Today marks three months since Ellis left my body and this earth. It’s hard to make sense of that amount of time—it feels both long and short.
Three months ago I was in the valley of grief, a pit of despair and darkness. But in that place I realized I could see beautiful things like the moon, the stars, lighting bugs, and the flicker of a candle. Light was seeping in, even when it felt as though I’d be stuck in the depths of grief forever.
In truth, Light was there from the moment Ellis died—it was reflected in the people placed around me. The doula I hired just five days before met me at the hospital and was by my side until my husband Hunter, who was out of town that weekend, was able to arrive. My cousin Linde caught the last flight from Dallas that night and also got a ticket for my sister so they could meet Ellis. A dear friend who suffered the loss of a full-term baby girl and also miscarried many other babies came to the hospital that night and baptized Ellis. The on-call night nurse, who took such gentle care of me in the still hours after midnight and shared the story of her own first son who was stillborn 30 years ago. (She went on to have another son who recently gave her a grandson, named after the first son she lost.) In the days following, family friends who lost a grandson at birth and happen to work in the funeral business took care of many logistical details for Ellis’ cremation and made us feel comforted knowing he was in their care in the end. There are many more stories like this.
So much darkness. So much light. I’ve accepted that these experiences don’t need to be categorized or separated from one another. I’m trying to move beyond dualistic thinking. I can feel heartache and gratitude simultaneously.
On Mother’s Day a week before Ellis died I wrote in my journal, “What a joy it is to soon be a mother myself!” I described how well things were going and how I couldn’t wait for our baby to join us. I wrote, “I feel so lucky to have such great family, friends, and colleagues. Sometimes I feel like my life is so charmed. I constantly have to remind myself that it’s okay for good things to keep happening. I am so grateful.”
In contrast to what happened just one week later, that optimistic outlook seems almost foreboding—like things were going so well that something bad was bound to happen. Since then Hunter and I have had many conversations around the question “Why did this happen?” Doctors aren’t able to give us a medical reason, and there are no spiritual or philosophical explanations that can wash away the pain. We’ve received many loving cards and messages that say something to the effect of “This is so unfair,” which made us think, “To whom would this be ‘fair’?”
Suffering is a part of the human condition and it connects us all. I’m learning that we will never in our lifetimes understand why this is, but I have faith that there is a higher power working towards our greater good—a divine plan beyond our comprehension. The desire to know “why” comes from my ego’s desperate need to be in control. And I’ve learned control is an illusion.
The past three months have been full of paradox—a time that’s felt both long and short; where I’ve found unity in separation, comfort in the unknown, and light in the darkness.