Adrienne isn’t pregnant anymore. I should have probably mentioned that last week, but I just didn’t feel like going there. She gave birth to her son, Caden… on Trinity’s due date, March 10. Ouch. Really? Why couldn’t he have arrived any other day? Another blow to deal with. I’m just not catching any breaks. Everything is in my face. More practice for me to hold the line, no matter what’s coming at me, like a soldier on the field of battle. I know the timing of Caden’s arrival was out of everyone’s hands, except God’s, so I was not angry, just hurt. I was so glad to be out of town. Trent and Shelly were headed to Tahoe for the weekend, and invited us along for a change of scenery. Another example of friends stepping up to fill a need we didn’t even know we had. This kind of action has been most appreciated because when people ask what they can do to help, we simply don’t know how to answer. But when people just do something, it is always appreciated.
I stayed in the ski house while everyone enjoyed the slopes for the day. Even though I’m not a bad snowboarder, walking is enough effort these days. I know Richard was more than ready to blow off his surplus of steam, so I was glad for him. I was at the kitchen table when Lisa called to let me know that Caden had arrived safe and sound, but that it was scary because the cord was around his neck. I was unable to feel happy. The pain was too potent. Guilt swirled around too, adding more unsavory flavor to the bitter concoction I was being steeped in. Feeling guilty for not feeling happy while trying to deal with all the other feelings I already had was dizzying. I shut down and took a nap.
Back in the Bay Area, I feel a little refreshed. Many thanks to Trent and Shelly. We really needed that. I am also relieved at Caden’s birth, even though his birthday will always be a reminder. But we shouldn’t hold on to due dates anyway. It’s the actual birthday that’s important. It’s just so sad that Trinity’s birthday is also the day she left this world.
And so I’m faced with another reckoning. Between what I was taught when I was growing up, and what I choose to believe, now that I’m grown up – in some ways. I think maybe we grow up our whole lives. We grow up, grow old, grow wise, grow weary, etc. There are lots of ways to grow. Nothing is static; that is for sure.
So now that I’ve surrendered Trinity to God, and I feel that peace physically, my mind has a little catching up to do. I grew up an average Protestant Christian mutt. A little Baptist, a little Methodist, a little Presbyterian. I think that’s good because I got the gist without getting distracted by the details. I went to church pretty regularly as a kid, but my attendance was sparse in high school, and mostly nonexistent in my unmentionable college days. I finally made it back to regular attendance in my early thirties. Nevertheless, having grown up Christian, the idea of Heaven was something I took for granted. A perfect place without pain or tears. It’s the place we go when we die if we believe that Jesus died to save us. That’ll be great, but it’s so far into the future, and I’m very busy with Earth stuff. I’m not old enough to be concerned with my mortality. But it’s not my mortality that gets my attention, it’s Trinity’s. Now this too-good-to-be-true place needs to materialize.
How can I truly believe that my little Trinity is in a place that I can't truly grasp? I consider it, ponder it, meditate on it, wonder about it, wrestle with it, and pray about it. What’s left after this thorough sifting is an unshakeable, unexplainable knowing. I just know it’s real and that she’s there. It goes beyond my upbringing. It goes beyond Biblical explanation because I haven’t read the whole Bible yet. Although there are a few verses that resonate with me.
“You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before You. Each man’s life is but a breath.” Psalm 39:5
“Humans are like a breath of air. Their life span is like a fleeting shadow.” Psalm 144:4
Life is short. People say that all the time, but the Bible says it more poetically. I have certainly experienced the brevity of life. Though the first days and weeks of intense sorrow seemed anything but brief, when I back up to behold the bigger picture, I see that my life will also be relatively short, even if I live to be a hundred. I cannot wrap my mind around the tangibility of Heaven or the actuality of eternity. It makes my head hurt and my ears smoke. I don’t need to think that I can know everything. That sounds pretty boring to me. Accepting our ignorance of things we cannot possibly comprehend is bliss.
The few moments I had with Trinity were each a gift, including the pregnancy. I now see every moment of my life as a gift. Every breath is a gift. Each and every beat of my heart is a gift. And because I don’t know how many moments I have left, I must treasure as many of them as possible. I can now gaze at my favorite photo of her the way a middle schooler gazes at a picture of his or her latest crush, with sighs and smiles and longing. It’s like the unrequited love we learned about in high school literature class. I hope that those who had their loved ones around longer than I had Trinity are able to cherish their memories, and to allow themselves to be filled with love and joy when they think of them.
As I get my mind around all this, I take increasing comfort in her whereabouts. From a mother’s perspective, she is safe! She has been spared all the pain, fear, suffering, and tears of this place. I don’t have to worry about her. She’s better off than I am! And since I’ve been reminded how short life on Earth is, I also take comfort in the fact that I will be with her relatively soon. I may not get to be with her right now, but I do get to be with her FOREVER. I can wait “a breath” of time if I know we have eternity to catch up.
Perhaps one reason why God lets bad things happen is so we can be reminded, and thankful, that Earth is not the end of our story. We work our fingers to the bone trying to create Heaven on Earth, and we never achieve it. Nothing we do with our hands ever fully satisfies. And even if we do manage to create something heavenly, it can be destroyed in seconds by “an act of God”. So as bad things continue to happen every day, maybe I can take comfort that the Earth chapter of my story is but “a breath”.