I headed to the retreat with a lot of hesitation, anxiety and mixed emotions. I seriously almost changed my mind about going at all on Thursday. It was just a place I didn’t know I wanted to visit and be a part of with this new baby on the way. Sometimes when those tidal waves of grief hit you, they are not always easy to rise above. I am finding myself in a place distant from grief, and in some respects that bothers me, but mostly I know this is where I have to be, to give this little person every chance at life.
I have the rest of my life, however long or short that may be, to grieve Jenna. I keep reminding myself about that.
But I kept thinking about Susan and that she asked me to go. I made this magazine for loss mamas, and I felt like it was ultimate betrayal just saying I couldn’t go. And a little selfish of myself too. I prepared my heart for the next few days, as best I could.
On the drive up I listened to the silence of the early morning sunrise, and the road beneath my wheels. It was just me and God, and I told him I couldn’t do this without him. Have I mentioned that praying these days is hard? I am not sure why, it just is hard to find the words, and maybe even the faith that he really is listening.
I arrived in the small (population 90, yo) town of Round Top, Texas a little over an hour later. There was real peace there. I really admire and respect everything these beautiful ladies behind Haven of Hope do, to not only create this event and make it happen, but cover it in prayer so that it is a place where God can meet with us in a real way.
I was welcomed by a few ladies who were sitting on the front porch of this three story life-size dollhouse. It was still early and after small talk I found my friend Amy upstairs.
The retreat was packed with a full day of small group, speakers, testimonies, crafts and even some down time to just visit the little shops nearby or take a nap. Most of all, it meant a lot that they tucked time away in the schedule to just get the chance to bond with other loss mamas.
I had the chance to share Jenna and the magazine, but let me just say my speaking ‘skills’ need some work. Some people make it look effortless, and one day I hope to chunk that nervousness and stage fright out the door. I could have done better, but the truth is I got to share, and I do hope the ladies from the retreat decide to visit our website. There were mamas there who had lost from miscarriage, stillbirth, infant loss, child loss and even teenage and adult children. The heart break in the room was tremendous, and a little overwhelming. Humbling. It makes you wonder sometimes how we can even walk or breathe after such tragic losses.
Something I loved about the retreat was the focus on how we will never be the same, even though we have Christ. This is something that I struggle with, when it comes to certain people in my life. Several people have told me that they miss the old me or that they feel like a part of me died with Jenna. And honestly, after three years it is beyond frustrating to hear these things. But I’ve heard it more in the past 6 months or so than ever. It was somewhat validating for me, hearing it from a Christian perspective that it is OKAY that I won’t ever be the same.
I walked away from the retreat with not so much a heavy heart for myself, but for the new loss mamas. I wish a million times over that I could take this awful grief and pain from their lives, because I know the road that they have ahead. And it is anything but easy. I am grateful to Haven of Hope for creating the local community in hopes that these women may never feel alone.
For more information visit their website. It is so worth the trip, if you can make it :)
ps- you can read about last year’s retreat here