The fight goes on, me versus pain, emotional pain. One very sore spot I haven’t mentioned yet is my youngest sister’s pregnancy. Hers is most painful to me for reasons I don’t quite understand. For some reason, friends’ pregnancies don’t bother me as much. Adrienne’s was a little difficult of course because we were pregnant together. But there is something about Jamie’s that strikes a raw nerve. She actually suspected she might be pregnant when she was in town for Trinity’s memorial service. She was supposed to call me and tell me the results. Weeks went by with no word. I was speaking with my mom one weekend, “I assume Jamie’s not pregnant. I haven’t heard from her.”
My mom, upbeat and nonchalantly says, “No, she is.”
I am caught off guard. “Oh.” I can’t remember the rest of the conversation. I probably cut it short. From that moment her pregnancy became bitter for me. I felt like a fool, and it made me really mad. Why couldn’t she just be straight with me? I was annoyed that she didn’t have the guts to tell me herself. I remind myself, though that she has several extra helpings of softiness, and I’m sure she just couldn’t take hurting me. In fact, she might not have even been able to speak through her tears. But what she didn’t know was that delaying the truth, and finding it out from someone other than her, hurt a lot more.
Sorting through all these feelings is overwhelming, like mountains of paperwork. Just grab something you recognize and decide what to do with it. Does it require any action? Do I file it or shred it? Or does it go into the i-have-no-idea-what-to-do-with-this-but-i-can’t-throw-it-away-or-file-it pile? Feelings are similar. I am feeling all these different things about one circumstance. I’m sad, hurt, jealous, angry, embarrassed. And guilty because I’m feeling everything except happy for my sister - the one thing I should be feeling. But feelings are pretty unreliable that way.
So I am angry at her for not telling me herself. But why is it so hard otherwise? Is it that she’s the youngest, and I was supposed to have the first grandchild? Am I that ridiculous? Actually I did have the first grandchild, but I just didn’t have her for long. Maybe I’m just jealous. I’m not sure, but feeling this way makes me want to jump out of my skin. She isn’t due until October, so I’ve got some time to continue sorting through this mountain of feelings.
Maybe it has to do with proximity – relationally or physically. Pregnant friends I’m not super close with, and don’t see or talk to every week don’t bother me in the least. But I experience a sort of mini panic attack at the site of strollers and pregnant women I don’t even know. When I am walking down the sidewalk and see one of these happy horrors approaching, my heart races with dread. When they get really close, I actually hold my breath and pray desperately in my mind, “Help! Help! Help!” until they pass. And then I deflate, hoping there are no more until I get wherever I am going. This happens pretty frequently, working in the South Park neighborhood of San Francisco. It is a lovely little European style park surrounded by restaurants, businesses, and residences. It is always bustling midday, but even when it’s quiet, residents can be strolling their little ones to the small playground.
One beautiful evening after work, I begin walking several blocks to where I’d parked that morning. I encounter a stroller and have one of these episodes. As I’m recovering and turn the corner, my head is hanging low. I am so weary of these secret seizures and lament with a heavy sigh, “How long will it be like this?” To my surprise, I sense a response. “Keep your eyes on your own path, and on Me.” My gaze begins to go slowly from my feet, down the length of sidewalk to its end, and then up to the spot of sky between the buildings - soft blue with feathery white clouds. It was like God gave me mental blinders to reestablish my focus. He has a plan for me - that may or may not include children. Very deep breath. But He is in charge, He knows what He is doing, and I have to trust Him and believe that He has good things in store for me on my path.
I continue walking the rest of the way to my car, feeling a bit lighter, a bit stronger, and maybe even a little optimistic. About what? My future - a thing I had totally forgotten about in my efforts to make it through each moment. It was like seeing a road sign on this unmarked journey, reassuring me that I’m going the right way and that there are good things up ahead. I have no idea how far up ahead, so I’ll just have to stay focused - on my path and the One who lights it.