Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Reflections

Today marks the beginning of Advent. As we got ready for church today, I realized that I love the Advent season. I love it for many reasons - the build up as we all wait together for Christmas, the advent wreath and candles, the blue and purple liturgical colors, the songs. Memories of advent in the Methodist church I grew up in came rushing back this morning.

It was exciting to take Molly to church today for her first Sunday of Advent. We had her dressed up in a purple flowery outfit making it seem like she picked out her outfit on purpose to blend in with the Advent colors (I wish I could say Cynthia and I did this on was in the back of my mind but it really coincidentally happened). She was passed out for the better part of the service and it was hard for me to stop smiling as I looked down at her in my arms. I was trying to be reflective and reserved as I listened to the Pastor's message, but I couldn't hold the smile back. It was so good to have Molly there in church today.

But it struck me earlier this morning how different the Advent season is this year. In fact, Cynthia and I have talked about this quite a bit over the weekend as we've been decorating our house.

We were in a very difficult place last Advent. We didn't have to reflect on what it was like to wait for the good news of Christ's birth, we were smack in the middle of a period of longing and waiting for any sign of hope. Last year Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas and even the New Year were all painful seasons to try to navigate through.

This all came to head on Friday when we started decorating our tree. Suddenly flashbacks of decorating our tree two years, when Cynthia was pregnant with Cara, came rushing back. Back then there was an innocent exuberance about the Advent and Christmas seasons. We had just started attending our new church and we were experiencing these seasons all for the first time with a baby in mind.

"Next year it will be so great to have Cara here at Christmas."
"Can you imagine how big Cara will be at Christmas next year?"
"It will be so fun to experience the holiday seasons with Cara next year."

Next year and next year...

Cynthia and I shared memories and tears as we decorated our tree this year and thought back to two years ago. We looked at some pictures of Cynthia over the holiday season when she was carrying Cara. Both her and Cara were so beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

So we enter this Advent season with more hope than we've had in our hearts since that terrible day when hope was taken away from us and our worlds were completely flipped upside down. But we still enter this season desperately missing Cara. Wishing that she was here. Wishing that all our dreams for "next year" would have come true. We will always carry a grief with us that wishes she was physically here. One day, Cara, we'll see you soon. We can't wait for that day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Finding Space

I try to make sense of it. Molly living, Cara not. I want to rationalize it, analyze it. "Molly wouldn't be here if Cara was alive. There might have been another Molly, but not this one," my mind wants me to believe. My heart is filled with so much love for this little girl. In some way I want to make sense of it all, and I can't.

I have heard other parents do it. "I wouldn't have had this child." And true I wouldn't. But it doesn't lead me towards acceptance of Cara's death. It doesn't erase that painful year and a half while we waited for this glimmer of hope to be born into our lives. Those were dark, dark days as we struggled with grieving our daughter, infertility as we tried to conceive our second and fear as the days of an anxious pregnancy unfolded. Still I want to justify my daughter's death as I have heard others do in the past, and I can't.

It's hard losing your first. There are so many hopes and dreams wrapped up in the second. I'm finding Molly is just a regular baby with demanding baby needs. Regardless, I believe Tim and I love Molly differently than we would have Cara. Our lives are certainly different. We have made more space and time to enjoy Molly. We love her with a thankfulness that would not have been had we not lost Cara.

In the recent days, I struggle to connect with Cara. I'm giving so much to Molly that I can't cling to the past like I have. I'm learning I do need to make space in the present though. I just sat nursing Molly and reading these words from a dear friend. Tears poured down my face as I recalled those early days after losing Cara. I used a burp cloth, the only thing around, to dry my tears.

Yes, it's important for me to connect with my girls, I just have to make the space for both of them in my life.