November 1 has come and gone, and I have not made any of those posts yet. Not because I don’t feel grateful, but because it has been a lot harder lately to focus on all the things I have to be grateful for in what has been a very difficult season of life.
These last three months since we lost our baby to miscarriage have been hard. I’m still struggling as I walk through my grief. Add on top of that a tough health year overall for our whole family and some other things that have been weighing heavy on my heart lately… I will admit that I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately and have had a hard time summoning that “attitude of gratitude.”
This morning, as I was leaving an appointment, I walked alone through the parking lot alone toward my car. As I was walking, I started thinking about all the times and all the reasons I’ve walked through that same parking lot. Routine appointments. Appointments that shattered my world. Visits to dear, sweet friends to meet their newborn children. The night that I arrived in the early stages of labor, eager with the anticipation of meeting our first child and leaving with that baby in my arms. Another day, a morning marked by ache and sadness, walking across that parking lot knowing that when I left, I wouldn't be leaving with the child that I carried in my womb.
As I walked, I thought about all the people I’ve passed in the hallways and elevators with each visit. Like me, each person has a different reason for being there. Some are mundane, everyday reasons. Some are joyful and cause for great celebration. Some are hopeful. Some are sad or tragic or heartbreaking. I don't know their stories, I don't know what they carry with them as they walk in and out of those doors, step into elevators, pass through corridors and hallways. But I do know that their stories and their journeys represent the fullness of life: Death, and also birth. Suffering, and also healing. Deep pain and sorrow, and also immeasurable joy.
As I approached my car, I thought about the grief that I carry, the pang of sadness that squeezes my heart every time I am in that parking lot as I remember the sad parts of my story that have taken place there.
And then it hit me: It’s all about your perspective. For the last three months, with each visit to that place, I have remembered the sad reasons that I have been there. I would say that’s a normal human reaction, especially with everything that has happened recently. This morning, I realized that I have come to associate this place with some of the greatest pain and grief that I have felt in my life. In light of that immeasurable sadness, it never occurred to me to stop and think about all the good things — the beautiful and wonderful parts of my story — that happened in the very same place.
Losing a child is not something that I will ever get over, or become a memory that doesn't ache with sadness. But today, I was reminded that life is both pain and joy, and that without the hurt and sadness and suffering that is part of life, we have nothing to measure our joy against.
So today, on this first Friday of November, I am reclaiming that attitude of gratitude. As they sing on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, "Sometimes you feel two feelings at the same time, and that's okay." In this hard season, I can give myself permission to lean into the sadness and grief that I am feeling, and also make space for the small, happy moments that are part of each day.
In doing that, I hope that someday, I can look back on this season of my life and remember it as bittersweet — a hard part of my life story that the little, joyful moments carried me through.
for capturing such a special family moment for us.