They told me to recline for labor,The above words were penned this morning by my dear friend, Amy, only two days after losing her baby boy. At 21 weeks gestation, this precious child was perfectly formed but not yet developed enough to cope with life outside of the protective covering of his mother's womb.
But I was on my knees.
I was on my knees
When I learned who you were.
Knees on the floor,
Hands in the air,
So much cause for praise.
I was on my knees,
Clearing the garden,
Planting seeds in the rain.
They wrapped the monitor around
And it moved up and down
With your body.
You were kicking against it
As hard as I was.
You were never on your knees.
She said she lost hers, same as mine
Twenty years ago.
She caught my son, she felt the weight.
She knows. She knows.
One day gone, and clothes hang loose.
All of me is too small without you.
Every sight of mother with child
Whispers, My son, my son, my son.
The longing all day, the longing all life,
For the moment to recline.
We push, we writhe, on cursed ground.
You drive us to our knees.
They say they want to take the work,
They tell me to be still.
They’ll cook, they’ll clean, leave me undone:
You forget I was made for labor.
Let me weep, with feeble hands reverse
The mundane disorder I can control.
Milk is here and you are not.
We touch each other to quell the grief.
I hold your brothers in my arms,
Your father wraps around me.
There’s nothing to do but wait
For the milk of the Promised Land.
I will see your face. I will hold your face.
On Your knees, sweating blood,
Wrestling over life to be lost and won.
I watch the blood flow, the scar site burns;
My son is lost to me.
Your Son was lost to You.
You know. You know.
And I am on my knees.
I am on my knees.
In situation like this we all want to say the right thing. We humans are funny. Somehow we think that we are in charge. That it is up to us to fix things. That we have the answers. That we can provide wisdom and comfort. That we can bring clarity to situations that are tearing others apart. I'm not sure where we get this idea. But it seems to be rampant and as old as history itself.
I've been reading through Job. I'm only to chapter 13 by now but I've already gotten the gist of things. You have Job suffering more than anybody can imagine ever suffering. And then you have his friends. These friends start off fine. It says that they weep and tear their clothes and then sit with him in silence for seven days. No words. Just tears.
But dang it to pieces! One by one, each buddy opens his mouth and what spills forth is a pathetic drivel of arrogance and assumptions and prescriptions.
Funny thing is, we, the readers, have already been filled in on the entire story. WE know why this is happening, so it is maddening and almost humorous to hear Job's best buds waxing long and theological about something that they really know nothing about.
What's interesting is that what they say is true, in certain circumstances. It's just not true in THIS one. But each friend assumes he knows best and can set things straight and Job can be on his merry way. Theology misapplied is a dreadful, dreadful thing. Perhaps that is why it is best to just keep our mouths shut. No words. Just tears.
But even with the best of intentions, sometimes silence is what soothes and heals. Sometimes there are just no words to ease the ache and only tears will do. Several years ago a woman in our church lost a baby at 37 weeks. Heartbreaking in a way most of us cannot even imagine. The graveside funeral was on a cold, rainy October afternoon. As we stood there amid the brown grass and the tombstones and the tiny casket and family, numb with exhaustion and loss, the pastor began to speak. And as he spoke the skies opened up and poured... buckets of tears from heaven. The louder the rain, the louder he spoke. And the louder he spoke, the harder and louder it rained. As if heaven itself was saying "Shhhhh. No words. Just tears."
Today my friend is laid low. Flattened by the grief and loss. Milk, but no baby. A wrecking ball swings through her flesh and through her soul. Let's let her speak when she is ready and keep our best of intentions to ourselves. We'll be quiet and mourn with her. No words. Just tears.