A Blanket, A Bush, And Healing
I was supposed to be teaching, not sitting at home on the couch on a school day. Devastated, I compared this Monday to the one before. A week ago I had been giddy with excitement over my pregnancy and looking forward to a fun weekend at an out-of-town wedding with my husband. Now I was recovering from a miscarriage, suffered alone at a strange hospital while my husband played the trumpet processional for a bride. The chilly, gray November day mirrored the lifelessness I felt.
Then my mother’s car pulled in the drive. She had driven 125 miles to be with me. I dissolved into tears as I had countless times over the past two days. Mom hugged me, and then went to unpack her car. She loaded the refrigerator with several meals she had prepared so I wouldn’t need to cook.
The next bag she opened took me by surprise. It contained knitting needles, a book of blanket patterns, and multiple skeins of yarn in soft pastel shades. At first I was hurt. There was no longer a baby to prepare for. Those soft pinks, blues, yellows, and greens would not be used to cuddle a newborn anytime soon.
Unfazed, mom reviewed for me the knit and purl stitches and a few variations. She taught me how to read the pattern and got me started on the first few rows. When I dropped a stitch, she showed me how to fix it.
Though I had been resistant at first, I was soon caught up in the project. It kept my hands and mind busy as I rested. There was healing in this process of creating. Soon I could see the wisdom in my mom’s gift. It was a visible sign of hope, revealing her faith when mine was lacking. She believed for me, that in good time there would be a baby for this emerging blanket to hold.
Soon after, dear friends gave us a gift certificate to a local green house and nursery. My husband and I chose a flowering almond bush and planted it in our backyard, anticipating beautiful pink blossoms in spring. The process planted the promise of life in our hearts as we grieved our loss.
By the time our new shrub bloomed in April, I was also blooming with new life. I worked on my blanket with more urgency, wanting it be ready to receive a baby due in early fall. Months later we were blessed with a baby girl, who later became a big sister to a biological sister and brother, followed by an adopted sister and brother.
Though more than two decades has passed since that painful November, the memories are still fresh. The turning of leaves, a certain change in the look of the sunlight, and a biting chill in the air bring them back to me each year. I still feel a twinge of sorrow as I think of the child we never got to hold. But the sadness is accompanied by thankfulness for two perceptive gifts that represented life and hope when we most needed them.
My mom and our friends did not brush off or minimize our loss. They shared our sorrow, yet at the same time, they helped point us beyond it. While I created something beautiful and useful with my hands, my heart began to mend. As we planted something that would produce beauty in the spring, we were reminded that new life can follow a desolate season. In the midst of it all, we learned the power of speaking life to the barren places in hurting hearts.
Not every story has the happy ending we were given when we longed for a child. Sometimes we, or those we love, live with unresolved hurts or hopes for years. Sometimes the ending of a chapter in our lives is not what we would have written at all.
But that does not mean there is no hope. The final curtain has not come down, and the story is not finished. As followers of Christ we are assured that "he who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it" (Phil 1:6) and that he is restoring what is broken and dead in our world, so that we can witness the grand finale when he proclaims, "I am making everything new!" (Rev 21:5).
In the meantime, we have the privilege of carrying one another's burdens. We can reassure the one who has suffered setback and loss that life wins in the end. The tool you have to share a foretaste of glory might be a spade or a knitting needle. It may also be a guitar, a mixing bowl, or a paintbrush. Your gifts, and mine, can be lovingly used to start the healing process and point the broken-hearted to the Author of life.