I am grateful for those who walked alongside me the best way they could. Those who had many conversations and listened to me as my hope diminished and reality sunk in. I am grateful to those who visited me in the hospital and stayed with me overnight (Vicky Walker, I am missing you a lot today), I am grateful to those who opened their home to me while I was recovering, brought delicious meals to me or took me out to eat when I was getting a little stir crazy, and those who sent cards and gifts. I am also certain that the prayers of those who knew; (the cancer scare) leading up to the surgery, during the surgery (which took longer than expected) and as I recovered, carried me through those dark and uncertain moments in ways known and unknown. Thank You.
How does one mourn the death of children that will never be? There is no Hallmark sympathy card for those who are having a hysterectomy. No ceremony or funeral. No adequate words. How does one re-write the childhood song, “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage?” How does one answer the annoying question that usually comes after an equally annoying one? Do you have kids? Are you married? How does one respond to the comment, “but you can adopt a kid? I support adoption. I always have. I think most foster kids do. However what does one have to do with the other? (Side note: adoption is a difficult process for anyone. It is even more difficult for people that have disabilities because of the stigma regarding parents with disabilities). How does one respond to friends who get pregnant? Baby showers and the numerous Facebook Prego pictures and baby photos?
On my good days, I rejoice with them because someone was able to see their dream of parenthood come true. Baby showers give me a chance to go into the baby clothes section of a store and participate in the joyous season of a friend. On my bad days, I stay off Facebook and social media and decline baby shower invites. Not because I’m not happy for you, but because it is a very visible reminder for me of my dream; my dead dream.
I am also very aware that this is Holy week. Easter is coming. Three years ago on Easter I was in the hospital soon to discover that my journey toward the death of my dream would begin. Good Friday is supposed to be about death and Sunday we are to celebrate Resurrection. Part of me would prefer to “Pass Over” Easter this year. To seclude myself from the many children in their pretty dresses and handsome suits. I still might choose that. But because I have fierce hope; hope in the God who defeats death; even the death of dreams, I may not choose to hide, but instead to fully enter the celebration of the Resurrection with my many, many questions. Because of my fierce hope I choose not to hide under the blanket of shame that sometimes covers me because I am a single woman in her thirties who cannot have children. I know, I am not alone. And if being married and having children are what makes one a woman or a good Christian woman …well, I have never fit the mold before, why start now? My goal is not to be good, but to be faithful.
So, what have I learned during this year since my surgery? Life goes on. I do that well. Pick myself and continue. However “anniversaries” like this one cause me to slow down, to reflect, to be angry, to be sad, for a little while and then to be fierce about finding hope once more. To realize that this experience has changed me in ways that I know: I am stronger than I thought and yet sadness emerges; no matter how hard I try to ignore that emotion.
So, this week I may be a little edgy and today a little sad because such an ambiguous death feels and is very final. No bunny, No colored egg or Easter basket can Band-Aid such a loss. Yes, I know this is Holy Week. I will join my voice with many saints around the world and say “Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed. I put my fierce hope in Jesus. But today what feels more real, more honest, more true as I give space to name this seemingly ambiguous loss is “Lord, I believe, help me unbelief.”
What happens to a dream deferred? (Or rather a dead dream)
Does it dry up“A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Letiah is a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene Seminary, a hospital chaplain, a director of the Love Wins LGBT ministry and serves on the pastoral staff of Trinity Family Midtown Church of the Nazarene in Kansas City.