my feelings right now.
Granted, we did just have a baby. Monica broke her arm. Lucia had a tonsillectomy. Dominic is a two and half year old boy (read: he jumps, climbs, runs, throws and drives everything. All the time). The hot water heater broke. Genevieve’s name was spelled wrong on her birth certificate. Just a veritable litany of life complications.
But the disquiet in my heart runs deeper than what any person in the grocery store can notice as they survey my motley crew, “Wow. You have your hands full!”
I think I’m trying to process the last year of my life. The first of my thirtieth decade. A year that started out amazing, and ended amazingly as well. But also a year that had a lot of hurt and tragedy. Losing Lucas. Almost losing Dominic and coming to grips with the horrible truth that I could lose any of my kids. At any time. Depression during G’s pregnancy. It’s more than this Mama ever thought she could face in such a short time.
It is certainly not the year I envisioned last August, and I am certainly not the same Caitlin today as the Caitlin blowing out 30 candles. The thirty-first candle represents a lot of grief and growth. A lot of anger and tears.
However, all those complicated feelings are not locked in a cage of despair. They’re not stuck at the bottom of a well of self-pity, and they wouldn’t be complicated if they were only bad. That is because of hope. Because of love. Because of mercy. In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I am just now realizing how much mercy was poured into my extraordinarily difficult thirtieth year.
Every tragedy, every hardship was met with love. Lucas’ Memorial. Dominic’s guardian angels. My tribe of female family and friends. People who helped us time and time again with broken things, broken hearts. I can’t stop thinking about the phlebotomist who enveloped me into her arms when I was such a mess. Tears running dow my face. Blood running into her tubes. Both confirming what I knew: that Lucas was gone. And then Lucas, who was gone but somehow not gone, showing me the most intense love I have ever received.
We celebrated Lucas yesterday, on his feast day. We made a little cake. Said a little prayer. And half-way through I was smacked with a different sort of grief. Andy held Genevieve and I understood, with great clarity, that if not for losing Lucas, she would not be here. I’m still recovering from her birth, exactly a year from when I started recovering from his death. That is a completely different layer to grief. How can I mourn a loss that made way for life? Isn’t that the basic question of our faith? Balancing the cross with the empty tomb. Cognitive dissonance at its finest. Complicated to say the least.
I know it’s imaginative, but I like to believe that God gave Lucas a choice. That He spoke to Lucas’ soul and said, you have the power to do an amazing thing if you come with me now. You will break your mother’s heart, but you will save her soul. You won’t be physically present to your family, but you will be able to intercede for them every day. If you lay down your life, there will be more life that can follow. And no greater love is this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend.
And I like to think that he said, Yes Lord. Thy will be done.
A teeny, tiny fiat.
The smallest of fiats.
But, looking at Genevieve, one with perhaps unfathomable results.
I like to think that now, as I contemplate all the redemption and life that came from his loss, he smiles at me and says, Good job Mama. I know you’re still sad, but I knew you’d find the joy. Remember to look for the joy.
I know there is more pain to come. My thirtieth year taught me, in a bone-marrow kind of way, that living and loving comes with death and loss. Hello means goodbye. But thinking about this past year, friends, family, and Genevieve… I also know that joy and love has the ability to triumph.
So this is my prayer right now: in all the complicated feelings of my life, may the peaks of joy carry me over the valleys of sorrow… until I can find the flat, solid ground of peace.
Maybe that will be this year…