“Every true cross-bearer learns to carry his cross as if it were an ornament rather than a burden, and finds after a time that it carries him. It gives more strength to him than he gives to it.”
- Mrs. Charles Cowman
The other day a dear friend texted me this quote. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It feels so strange to be able to resonate (on any level) with comparing our loss to an ‘ornament’. When I think about an ornament, I think of something that is adored, cherished, and put up for display. It is something to be admired – it might even hold significance, special meaning or precious memories.
Sure those days hold some of the most precious memories of my life, but I will never forget the feeling like my chest had been ripped open. The precious memories, they came at an incredible cost. And the only thing I could see about this whole ordeal was that I had been forever changed. I missed the person I used to be, the old life, the innocence. More than anything I missed my daughter. None of it made any sense, and out of frustration I became angry. So angry in fact that my heart became hard.
To say my loss was an ‘ornament’ those days would have been a stretch of the wildest imagination. It was a heavy, heavy burden (understatement of the century) that quickly defined everything about me. Who I was, what I talked about, who I talked to, what I cared about and how I spent every last minute of my life. I was becoming grief. The problem with that, is we were never created to become a single emotion. We might live in a single emotion for a while, but life is too grand, too big, to fill your days with just one. But I almost feel like that’s what had to happen.
When I finally realized and accepted that something had to change, the anger dissipated as quickly as it had come. It didn’t matter who remembered what, who still thought about our girl, who was afraid to say her name… because we did all those things. And we were the only ones that mattered. Every one else would have just been icing on the cake. And I do have to say, we have some icing on this cake, even three years later.
Over time I could think about our girl without so many tears, or any tears at all. I could smile about her. I could thank God for every single day she was with us. Every day that I got to carry her and enjoy feeling those amazing kicks. Over time, this loss – the unexpected twist that morphed our lives into the today we are living – became something I was proud of. Not just something I was holding onto for fear of forgetting her existence, but something I was holding up high because this… this thing that happens to one in four… we were chosen. This was our ornament, and the truth is she only makes Heaven that much sweeter.
So yes, today… I can honestly say our loss isn’t something I would have ever picked for our family, but it is something I am proud of. This is our story. The way God wrote history for us with my firstborn’s birth and death. And all the ways this ornament continues to affect our lives.