On March 27th, 2008, the truck I was riding in slid across the center line on an icy highway in Idaho, and was hit by a semi. My dad and my 9-month old son were killed. In the days following the accident, while I was in the hospital healing from my injuries, I began the journey of writing this blog.
The one-year anniversary of that day just passed.
Because this was also spring break week, I was able to spend the days leading up to the anniversary at a bed and breakfast, giving myself the gift of solitude and reflection. On the second day of my little retreat, March 25th, I took a long walk, thinking a lot about Dad and how he would have enjoyed this kind of walk. I remembered one of his favorite quotes, "All who wander are not lost" (J.R.R. Tolkien, I think).
Later, I went jogging and then stopped by a restaurant for lunch. While I was there, I realized in a rush of panic, that I was bleeding. I am three months pregnant, and I know so many people who have lost pregnancies . . . I can't begin to express the horror that washed over me. I called Michael, and he rushed over to take me to the hospital.
While I waited for him, I kept thinking, how can this be happening? Why is it happening now, two days before the anniversary of losing Sage? How can Michael and I possible withstand the loss of another child?
When we got to the hospital, I was terrified to see the ultrasound screen, not knowing whether the baby would be alive. Michael and I held hands, trembling. The tech didn't turn the screen toward us until she'd had a glimpse. She pointed out the baby's strong heartbeat, and we saw the baby moving.
A doctor explained that I have a hematoma, a blood clot. It was probably jarred by my jogging, which may be why it started bleeding. We were told that while there is some increased risk for miscarriage, most likely it will not affect our growing baby. I was told to "be a couch potato" and to see the doctor or the midwife weekly for the next few weeks.
After we left the hospital, as the reality that our baby is alive and healthy sunk in, I felt so full of gratitude that even the lingering fears had little sway over me. Since finding out that I was pregnant, I have been awash in such a tangle of emotions, that I was unable to settle into the expectant joy of pregnancy. Now, finally, in this week of remembrance, I find myself really able to embrace the gift of this new child.
On the morning of the anniversary, I awoke from a dream with the words, "The baby is dead," in my mind. I told myself, "No! Don't even think that. The baby is just fine." And then I realized the baby referred to was Sage. And in that moment I began to grasp the reality of two separate babies, one dead and one alive, both loved.
So, there is the horror of "The baby is dead," and the overwhelming gratitude of "The baby is alive." There is the longing to be able to walk with and talk to my dad, and then there is the gift of the other people who make my life full and rich.
Someone is writing something new in the ashes of my life. This is where I find myself one year later.
Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again
on an open sky.
has to be
so you can find
the one line
Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out
someone has written
in the ashes of your life.
You are not leaving
you are arriving.
~ David Whyte ~