Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Village

The Village
By: Gwenevere

“Life presses all kinds of burdens on each of us, some light but others relentless and heavy. Bearing up under our own burdens can help us develop a reservoir of empathy for the problems others face. The Apostle Paul taught [in Galatians 6:2] that we should bear one another’s burdens. Accordingly; [from Mosiah 19:8-9] that we should be willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light, yea and [be] willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” 

“Hello, This is Gwen” I said in the usual way that I do when I don’t recognize the number on my phone’s caller ID. I hate talking on the phone and if I don’t recognize the number, I rarely pick it up. Whomever this was calling, should feel very lucky that I even answered, I thought as I waited for a response to my greeting from the other end.
“Gwen?” an apprehensive voice asked through the line, “Uhm, this is Amanda,”
Something was clearly wrong and I restrained myself from responding in the happy, upbeat way that is typical when we talk.
Amanda and I met in college while we were living in a married student-housing complex, also known as “The Village”. Our friendship has always been one that hasn’t needed a lot of maintenance, which is interesting since both Amanda and I tend to hang out on the higher end of the maintenance scale. She was one of several women whose friendship I quickly came to depend on through trying times. It seemed that in those early years of marriage we all faced some challenge; miscarriage, infertility, financial woes, job security, etc. Each challenge drew us closer and kept us together even after we all moved from The Village well over 6 years ago. Sure we got together less frequently than we did when we were all next door neighbors, but when we did, there was never any love lost.
The last time I had spoken to Amanda was over the phone more than 6 months ago. During that call she had opened up to me about her distress in not being able to carry a pregnancy to term and wondered what was next for her little family. Since that conversation, I learned, through email and other social networks, that she was pregnant again.
The apprehension I was now hearing in her voice from the other end of the phone sent panic through me as I anticipated what she was about to tell me. I braced myself for her to tell me that she had lost another baby.
“Hey. What’s goin’ on?” I asked, knowing that whatever she had to say was not going to be good.
“Um” she said again with a catch in her voice, “Elise’s baby was delivered stillborn yesterday.”
My heart stopped.
Elise was one of us from The Village. She was a little different though, she was on the lower end of the maintenance scale, she was tactful and much more put together and organized than any of the rest of us. She loved us despite our neuroses and DARN IT! Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to people like her!
I searched to find any words that would be worth sharing at this moment.
I failed.
“What happened?” I asked dumbly.
            Barely holding on, Amanda proceeded to tell me of the little she knew of the ordeal, “Elise said that on Monday she just couldn’t stop crying and she had no idea what was wrong. There were no signs of a problem, no pain, no bleeding. She just said that she was an emotional wreck. At her final appointment with her OB, before her scheduled delivery on Friday, she told her doctor that something was not right.”  Amanda paused as she tried to get the next bit out. Full of raw emotion she declared, “The doctor couldn’t find the heartbeat.”
Another wave of sorrow drenched me as I remembered each time I had been in an exam or ultra sound room praying that the doctor would find the tiny heartbeat. Then I remembered each time they couldn’t and what would happen next. Soon I would be wheeled on a gurney into a freezing operating room and with hot tears running down my cheeks I would ask the doctor to please be absolutely certain before he proceeded.
Amanda and I fumbled around with our words a bit and discussed what Elise and her husband Nolan would do next. Amanda told me that they would probably be having a small graveside service at the cemetery where Nolan’s dad was buried. She told me that they have spent the time in the hospital with their perfect little baby boy and that today they would be leaving the hospital.
My heart hurts for every woman who doesn’t.

* * *

What is more pure than a child whose earthly mission only required a moment?

As always, when it seems to matter most, I can’t find the right words.
I pray that the broken pieces of your heart will mend and that soon your peace will be more profound than your sorrow.

(Names, other than my own, have been changed to protect the identity
of those who are grieving during this difficult time.)


Michelle said...

That is absolutely heartbreaking. I feel I am fortunate, not because it's never happened to be but because I've never even known someone it's happened to. I can't imagine what it must be like for her right now.

Katie said...

These stories are always hard to hear, especially when one is carrying a baby. My mother in law's #6 child was a stillborn and still has a sadness she carries with her. All the older kids remember the pain their parents went through and they carry that with them still too. I'm really sorry for your friend.

Chelsea said...

I'm amazed at how common this is. My dear cousin just experienced a very similar situation just recently. How heartbreaking. The sorrow seems to actually rip at your heart and you actually know what a broken heart feels like. I'm so sorry for your friend. You're words of encouragement are so beautiful and uplifting. I'm so sorry for your experiences too. I didn't know. We need to have a talk. It's time we got to know each other better.

Anonymous said...

As always your words are beautiful and your faith strong. You have wisdom and insight that show Christlike compassion. Thank-you.

Naomi said...

I am so sorry for your friend. No one can understand what this is like unless they have been through it, but she will be in my prayers.

Julie said...

I've heard too many stories like this lately, too many tears!!... this is not something pregnant woman should be reading!! I'm so sorry for your friend, she will be in my prayers

Rick & Liz said...

My heart broke into a million pieces reading this :(. I'm so sorry for your friends and their loss. I can't imagine the pain they are going through right now.
This is something I am completely terrified of right now. We've made it to 30 weeks. Well beyond what we have been able to make it in any of our past pregnancies. I have no reason to think that something is going to go wrong but at the same time get so scared sometimes and just want to see 10 weeks into the future with us holding our sweet baby girl in our arms. Knowing she is healthy and strong. You are right every mom deserves to go home with that baby in their arms :(.
Thoughts and prayers go out to your friend.

Gwenevere said...

Sorry Liz, I should probably put a disclaimer on this post to warn women who are pregnant that the information in the post may be disturbing.

Rick & Liz said...

No worries. I just feel so badly for your friend :(