Monday, September 29, 2014

The Hurricane of Grief

I know a lot about hurricanes. I have lived the past 7 years on an island that is vulnerable to hurricanes, so I have had to become educated about them. I have learned that along with the high winds and heavy rains, storm surge is an often overlooked danger during a storm - the fact that the ocean water will rise up higher than normal, which when coupled with heavy rains causes additional flooding. I have also learned that in addition to the well-known "eye," the rain and winds in a hurricane come in "bands." There will be times when the wind is gentle and the rain sprinkling, followed by pouring rain and thrashing winds, over and over in a pattern.

I feel like my experience with Mikayla and Selah has been very much like a hurricane. When I began bleeding with Mikayla, it was like when the weather forecasters see a storm forming way out in the ocean. At that point everyone is wondering which direction it will really go. Will it come right at us for a direct hit? Will it miss us entirely, or fizzle out before it hits land? Or will it skirt by us giving us lots of wind and rain, but leave us with little or no damage?

With my hospitalization and my water breaking, it was looking more certain that the storm was coming our way. There were still no guarantees - we've seen several hurricanes that looked like they would hit us dead-on that have curved at the last minute and spared us. It was time to fill up the pantry, batten down the hatches, and put up the shutters. In spiritual terms, it meant filling up on gospel truths and God's faithful promises, and sending up prayers and petitions.

When I went into labor at not quite 22 weeks, I knew the storm was centered right on us. With a hurricane, this would be the time to fill up the bathtub and sinks and all available containers with water, and pull out the candles and flashlights. With a stillbirth, this was a time of crying out to God to spare me if possible, and to fill me with His presence and His light to bring me through the storm and its aftermath.

Just like the wind and rains, the grief comes in waves and bands. It will ease up for a bit, and then out of the blue hit me like a tree branch and knock me on my knees.

Not everyone in a hurricane will pass through the eye. Only where the hurricane passes directly over will there be a true calm in the midst of the storm. They say the most dangerous part of a hurricane is directly after the eye passes. The reason for this is two-fold. First, the strongest winds are in the eyewall just behind the eye of the storm, and second, some people will be lulled into a false sense of security by the calm blue skies outside as the eye is passing over, and they will venture out of their shelters and begin assessing the damage that has been done only to be caught unaware by the remainder of the storm.

My pregnancy with Selah was a bit like being in the eye of the storm. I could see the sun shining outside, and blue sky peeking through the clouds. Thankfully I knew enough to stay inside my shelter of the Almighty's arms even during this calm. I did not let the prayers stop, or give up on feasting on the Word of God.

When the eyewall hit of losing Selah, it was a double grief. A grief for the loss of another precious baby, and the loss of the calm and hope I had experienced during those weeks I knew Selah was with us.

I am now passing through the back side of the storm. I don't know how much longer it will be until it passes over. The grief is still coming in bands, some stronger, some calmer. My heart is still being battered and bruised.

But I know I will make it through the storm. Because my life is built on a firm foundation, and is capped with God's mighty hand, it will not fall. Even before hurricane season, when building a house where hurricanes may blow, they must be built on a firm foundation, with proper construction and a strong roof to withstand the winds and the rain and the surge. Without that foundation, the house would be washed away.

Clinging to my rock.

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