Today during a lesson at church I was asked to think about times I’ve felt God’s love. Initially, I started thinking about how blessed I am to be pregnant with my twins, and how grateful I’ve been every time I’ve gone to the doctor so anxiously praying things haven’t gone wrong like I’ve imagined over and over, and there they are–wiggling around, hearts beating strong. But really, gratitude and anxious relief don’t necessarily feel the same as being loved. I feel blessed, and in our lesson a lot of people talked about how their blessings help them feel loved, but feeling blessed paled in comparison to what I knew love could feel like.
It took me a minute to realize when I had felt that love. In my mind, I knew it was when things were hardest. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew it was when things were bad that I had felt God’s love most, not when I had been blessed. I thought about bringing this up, but I wasn’t sure what to say when I didn’t even know why I remembered being loved during hard times. I couldn’t settle on a specific moment. I couldn’t describe what God’s love had felt like. I just knew it was there. And I thought, maybe the only reason I knew that was because of the evidence of where I am today. To have survived everything I’ve been through in the past year, I had to have God’s love with me during those hardest of times.
Then our teacher played a story about the mothers of three teenage women who had died in a car accident. At one point, a bishop reflected on his experience as a fly on the wall when one of the mothers received the news of her daughter’s death. The grace and selflessness with which this mother handled the situation and immediately looked to serve the other daughter’s families was staggering, in a way. But so much more about this mother’s reaction was shakingly familiar. The details of our situations are so different that I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I related with this woman. But I did. Memories of those first few moments after we received the news of Liam’s death suddenly came back to memory in a new light. So often flashbacks remind me of the devastating seconds after our ultrasound. It’s hard to find any good in that. But this time I remembered something new.
I felt nudged to acknowledge the moments after loss when my response was most similar to this mother’s. I may not have focused on serving other families immediately; there really wasn’t any opportunity to. But I was reminded of the decisions I made for Liam’s sake in those next 24 hours. Ensuring that I would be allowed to hold him, naming him, making sure we took pictures of him. And then, I remembered a detail I hadn’t really thought about in a long time. I remembered the first few hours when K and I were at home alone before our parents’ had come to take care of us. I remember crawling into bed together and holding each other. I remember how we knelt down together and prayed for comfort. I remember the beautiful prayer K gave when I was too weak to say what I was feeling. And I remembered a closeness and love and transcendence that was hard to appreciate at the time when the pain was so raw. I remember so many of those first moments through the blurry eyes of shock, and I’ve often attributed the strength I was able to gather during those first couple of days to the protective abilities of the body’s shock response. But for the first time I started to see evidence of something else that buoyed me up during those first, most difficult moments. I saw it in the woman in the story, and I saw it in myself. It was God’s love, at its most basic and beautiful. When things were scary and confusing and awful God’s love made them softer, easier to chew. He made the moments simple. He reigned in my mind enough for me to focus on each step, second by second. He brought K and I together when we needed each other most. He let Liam feel close while we needed him here. It was such a simple feeling at the time, but when I look back on it now I realize how overwhelming it felt in comparison to the gratitude I’ve felt for blessings at other times in my life. I suppose it would have to be in order to outweigh the heaviness of our heartbreak in that hard time.
I also remembered a few days later when the shock was starting to fade and I was starting to worry more and more about what happened to my sweet baby. I spent hours scouring the scriptures for answers about every detail. There were many comforting answers, but eventually the questions out ran the revealed doctrine, which really couldn’t have happened any other way. I could always find more questions to ask about the one thing that was most important to me. It was at that time that God’s love brought comfort again. Eventually I realized that the answers didn’t matter nearly as much as the promise that God loves me, and he loves Liam. If that was true, and I knew it was because I’d felt it, He would take the absolute best care of my baby.
I still believe this, and it brings comfort in my current pregnancy. As much as I don’t want to lose these babies, it is comforting to remember that regardless of the short-term, earthly outcome, these babies will be taken care of one way or another. It doesn’t calm my fears of losing them, and it wouldn’t make losing them any easier, really, because the pain of that loss is so infinite that any form of the word “easy” is inappropriate. But it’s comforting. It softens the fears a little. It’s like the net below the tight rope. If all goes absolutely wrong, it’s comforting to know that at least we can come back from it. We can all be together again eventually. I’d rather just get to the other side without falling. But if it absolutely has to go that way, at least I can have the comfort of knowing someone will catch me.