infant loss


To paraphrase a favorite middle school movie of mine, "I have no words? This has never happened to me before. Words are my life."  It has been rare in my life that anything would make me speechless - anger, excitement, boredom. Words would always come. Easily and plentifully, in my case.  But there are times when an emotion is too much for words.

Only when my husband and I experienced the simultaneous birth/loss of our stillborn daughter five years ago did I truly understand what speechlessness feels like. What staring into nothingness feels like.  What it's like to truly not have an answer for "how are you." Because, there's just nothing. You're empty. There aren't words, so you just sit there with your mouth weirdly hot and dry and stare at your fingernails while other people's words bounce off your ears and get absorbed by the carpet.

Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence always comes to mind. Hello, Darkness, my old friend.

I like to think that in five years, I've changed a little and matured a lot. I've actually been speechless many times since that experience.  Maybe I've learned to be more introspective, maybe I've learned that God speaks in the silence. Maybe I now know that it's ok to just sit and be blank. Through the current circumstances of my life, I find myself rehashing these feelings five years later, dwelling on the memories, trying to sort out right from wrong, peace from anger, acceptance from bitter resolve. 

My wise father-in-law has put a name on these times of confusion and wandering for me: being 'in the desert'. Of course, God was with Israel in the desert, watching them, caring for them every step of the way, but it was still hot, dry, and itchy. You learn a lot in the desert, but man... it sucks.

Wordlessness. Ironic to use the written word to describe the experience. But even in this attempt, I'm explaining around it.  Because the only thing to me that would sum it up would be blackness. Darkness. Emptiness. A waiting and longing for what isn't here and won't return.

At my daughter's funeral (a healing time for a group of families hosted by an organization called Share of Lancaster), one of the pastors closed the ceremony by praying in Spanish. Now, I had a good eight years of Spanish in school, but I could barely understand a single word. Strangely, that was the most touching moment of the service for me. That was the only moment I felt God reaching into my blank heart. The pastor was softly weeping and saying words I couldn't understand. For me, it was like experiencing Romans 8:26-27: "The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."

Groanings too deep for words. Yes. That's it. That's what the desert is like.