A year ago I called my eight-year-old niece to wish her a happy birthday. Or so she thought. It just so happened that her birthday fell on a day that I desperately needed to call my sister. Since I needed to call my sister at 6:30 in the morning, I decided to play it cool and act like I was calling MaryGrace. That day, on Facebook, I posted “Today I am grateful for the niece that gives me hope that there can by joy after unspeakable heartbreak. I need that today. Happy 8th Birthday, MaryGrace!”
A year ago, on what should have been Silas’ four-month birthday, two more lines appeared on a home pregnancy test. I was in such a daze that I don’t even remember my exact response. I don’t remember happy squeals. I don’t remember jumping up and down. The only thing I remember is picking up the phone to call my sister. I couldn’t think about doing anything else. I needed to talk to the one person I knew would understand how I was and wasn’t feeling.
I spoke with MaryGrace and had her hand the phone back to Jaimie. I asked her if she was alone, then I broke the news to her. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but I do remember her telling me that this pregnancy was different. She told me that repeatedly over the 36 weeks I carried Benji. I don’t think I believed it until I held him in my arms.
It was fitting that we started our journey to get Benji on MaryGrace’s birthday. Besides being my sister’s rainbow baby*, she’s a miracle. She shouldn’t have survived birth, but today we celebrate nine years with her. MaryGrace personifies joy–from the moment she springs out of bed to the moment she drags herself into it–so hearing her sweet, miraculous voice mere minutes after I got some of the most terrifying news of my life was calming.
There can, indeed, be joy after unspeakable heartbreak.
*Oddly, enough, Urban Dictionary has a great definition for this:
A “rainbow baby” is a baby that is born following a miscarriage or still birth. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm in comparison. The storm (pregnancy loss) has already happened and nothing can change that experience. Storm-clouds might still be overhead as the family continues to cope with the loss, but something colorful and bright has emerged from the darkness and misery.