The Letter

She would be 39 years old today.  I've often wondered if she would have red curly hair like me or straight brown hair like her father. What would she have been like as an older sister of two younger brothers?  Would we have had a close relationship?  I dreamed it would be so. 

That entire pregnancy was out of order. From the beginning nothing seemed to be typical, but then again, what is typical from one pregnancy to the next? I was quite ill and ended up in the hospital for nearly a week as I couldn't keep food or water down at all. Nothing. The medical term used was Hyperemesis gravidarum.  Snazzy, eh? It just means excessive vomiting, but I like their name better. It seems to validate how sick I really was. 

I barely gained any weight with this wee one, but considering how little food I kept down that wasn't surprising.  Finally, the sickness sort of settled down, but not entirely.  Into the 7th month, and due to some concerns the doctor had, I was sent for an ultrasound at the hospital, as that's the only place they were done. This procedure was brand, spanking new!  For several hours they took pictures while my mom waited for me.  Finally, the head of the department came in and said they were having trouble getting the kind of pictures as they'd hoped and thought it might be the machine so they moved me to another one for even more pictures.  My back was aching but I figured it was just from all the laying on the tables as they continually pressed and nudged my tummy while trying to get something better than what they found.  

By the next morning, my water broke and I delivered a still-born baby girl with Anencephaly and a few other deformities that can accompany neural tube defects. In an instant our dreams were dashed. The nurse sedated me, but I could hear everything the medical team was saying. I felt my doctor take my hand and rub my arm, but when I didn't respond he asked out loud if the baby had been baptized and would someone go get the father.   I wanted to shout out, but couldn't utter a sound. What just happened?? What does this all mean? 

I thought a lot about that day in 1977 as a young co-worker celebrated her 38th birthday today.  I rushed home from work to look for a letter my father wrote and brought to me in the hospital which I read late that night alone. It's the most special letter I've ever received and at times through the years I've pulled it out and re-read it again when I needed to strengthen my resolve.  Had I read it with wisdom when I received it, I possibly would have avoided other years of struggle in my life, but I was still foolish in so many ways for a long time. 

I want to share parts of this most personal letter with you in the hopes that you will find some words here that can apply to any difficult situation you've encountered or are now going through.  

"First, do not love your grief.  Grieve, but endure and grow from it." Wise, eh? We all know someone that has never moved past a grievous event in their lives. "For some reason God has determined you should not have a child at this time. Accept this fact; do not question for that leads to self-doubt and self-pity."  Loaded with wisdom. 

"Consider your goals in life. Your loss will certainly cause you to examine your life-style and ambitions. You will be different because of this event but you must go on.  Do not be bitter for that is self-pity and not a reflection of maturity. Try to determine what abilities you have and develop them to serve yourselves and others. Be humble, not humiliated and try to do good without boasting about it."  Deep, guiding wisdom. 

And lastly Dad said, "I know it is hard to see right now, but by serving we are served."   Try to put this wise and true statement into practice. It really can change your life perspective and give you just a moment of relief as your focus changes from inward to outward. You will be richly rewarded with peace. I am blessed beyond measure to have something this profound in my father's handwriting still with me to this day. This letter has impacted my life and more so as I have grown older, and hopefully wiser. 

As they say in recovery, take what you need and leave the rest. This letter may have no bearing on the situation you are in right now, but if you look hard enough, this letter will have great bearing on your own life today and in the days ahead if you so choose.  

Happy Birthday, sweet baby of mine. I can't wait till the day I can cup your beautiful, perfect, healthy face in my hands and tell you how much I love you.