Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ice Cream Cones For Dinner

Several years ago, when Banana was almost four and Bear was eighteen months, we had gone back to California to vacation and visit old friends. When we lived in California we attended daily Mass at a Carmelite retreat center. The daily Mass community, the priests, and nuns there became dear friends, so when we came back for a visit they offered us a room. The Bishop's room to be precise, the room right on the other side of the chapel and the tabernacle. I cannot put into words what a blessing that turned out to be for our family.

We left for that vacation when I was a little over thirteen weeks pregnant. I was entering the second trimester and had breathed a sigh of relief thinking my chances of miscarriage were now pretty slim. We enjoyed telling old friends, many of whom knew our struggles with infertility, about our coming bundle of joy and I was glad I was feeling a little better and could enjoy their company. During the second week of our vacation, however, I began experiencing symptoms similar to that of my first miscarriage.

As the grief began to fall over me like a tidal wave in that little Bishop's room I sank into bed just a few feet from the blessed sacrament and I cried. David did the best he could to entertain two little girls in a confined space and took them for a walk, but it was growing close to dinnertime and my girls were much too young to understand the emotions that seemed to be paralyzing me. Despite my overwhelming sadness, there were grumbling tummies and two girls who had been enjoying a nice vacation not sure why things were now so somber. Dinner plans had to be made.

Banana decided we should make a dinner of ice cream cones. It was a hot July day in Southern California and ice cream sounded like the perfect solution to her hunger. To that little four year old ice cream was the ultimate good. She had no comprehension of nutrition and even if I had tried to explain to her the ins and outs of the digestive system and the need for nutritious food, she wouldn't have understood. She only knew that ice cream sure sounded good and it was unfair that her parents were denying her that privilege. There was very little reasoning taking place with her. Eventually she had to trust that as her parents, the two people who loved her most, we wanted the best for her even if she didn't (couldn't) understand.

Later that night, after dinner (I can't recall what we ate but it was not ice cream) and a trip to the emergency room to confirm I had indeed miscarried, we returned to the Bishop's room. We put the two little girls to bed, and I laid on the bed just opposite of the Eucharist and cried more. David took advantage of the chapel on the other side of the wall and also went to pray.

In the midst of the grief, I realized that in so many ways I was just like my little daughter. I was the toddler who couldn't understand why such a good, this child I already loved, would be taken from me. I was angry that the desire for a child would be put so strongly on my heart and then taken away. Then, slowly, I began to understand that in the same way there was a gap between my understanding of nutrition and little Banana's four year old reasoning of digestion, there existed in infinitely larger gap between my reasoning and God's. The same way a four-year-old can't fully understand nutrition, there are mysteries that I, in my human understanding, would never fully comprehend.

Isaiah 55:9 reads:"As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts."

 In that moment, so near to our Lord,  I realized I was being a whining, temper tantrum throwing four-year-old. I began to comprehend how much I needed to trust that God, who loves me infinitely more than parents love their children, wanted the ultimate good for me even if, like Banana, I didn't (couldn't) understand.

After four more miscarriages and countless other opportunities to abandon myself to God's plan instead of my own, I am still daily learning that lesson of trust.


Maria (also Bia) said...

what a heartfelt story and such a wonderful witness to what it means to surrender everything to God's will, even if we don't understand.

thank you for sharing, it touched my heart.

bobbi said...

Thank you for opening up and sharing your story. It's a heartfelt and beautiful witness even amidst the pain.