Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Pass?

A few months ago, I heard about a woman who had lost two of her three children to infant leukemia. She is the only known case of this happening with non identical twins. Her story sent a ripple of shock and horror through the infant leukemia community because we had all been promised by our own doctors and experts that such a thing could never happen.

Last night my cousin asked me to pray for a 3 year old little girl who was in the battle of her life. Today I learned that her parents, a couple who recently lost their five month old to a congenital issue, have now been dealt the incredibly unfair blow of having to say good bye to her too. Her tiny body couldn't fight off a freak case of bacterial meningitis, something her pediatrician originally wrote off as nothing more than bronchitis.

A woman in my grieving mom's group, a very kind and special and encouraging woman, I learned yesterday, is losing her battle with cancer. Her husband who unfairly had to bury his son, now must prepare to bury her too.

Seems so unfair, doesn't it?

There are a lot of really shitty people in this world. People who hurt and take and think of no one but themselves, and yet, you don't hear about these things happening to them. Why?

You would think that after all a bereaved parent goes through in loving and losing and grieving their beloved children, there would be some sort of free pass. A Get Out Of Heartache Free card. Something along the lines of:

"Your survival through the hell of losing a child entitles you to a life void of any further tragedy."
- God.

I guess this just goes to show that what my doctor told me when she diagnosed my infertility is true: "There is no justice in this world."

These stories are tragic. And heartbreaking. They bring tears to our eyes, and prayers for these families' healing to our hearts. We cry out in anger at God and the Universe for allowing such pain to exist. Hearing them sends us down a road of "Oh, what's the point in even trying," but there is another message here too. An eye opening one. One that must not be ignored.

You are still here. 
You are still alive.
Don't waste it.

It is so important that we not allow our grief to make us complacent in our living. We must not turn our backs on the day to day joys, no matter how minuscule they seem in comparison to the dark cloud that sorrow has cast over our lives. As tough a task as our circumstances make it, and as small as they feel in contrast to our pain, we must remind ourselves of what blessings we do have, and be grateful, because as these stories so cruelly illustrate, there are no guarantees in this life.

I have gotten into the habit of reminding myself before bed of what I do have. Among other things, this practice helps to calm the anxieties that cause my insomnia, and allows me a more peaceful transition to sleep.

I remind myself that I have my health.
My husband.
My family.
My friends.
A house to keep me warm.
Food to fill my belly.
A dog who has brought great joy into my life.
A love for writing.
A bed to sleep in.

You get the picture.

I know this may seem a bit odd, especially coming from someone who wrote in her last post that her life is ruined, and believe me when I say that that feeling is genuine, but even I, the girl with the dead kid and blocked tubes, have to remind myself that while my life may feel ruined, while it may feel at my core as if it has been broken beyond repair, I don't know that yet.

My story has not yet been told in its entirety, and I have to believe, even if believing means pushing through indescribable pain and heartache, that there is a possibility things will get better. The opportunity to live each day with the above blessings is proof of that.

Most of you who read here have lost a child, or loved one, or your fertility. You fight your own daily battles, and struggle through your own dark places.

Life, as we have learned, is not fair. Or easy. Or just.
It is just life.

We have each lost so much, far more than any person should have to endure losing, but I guess my point is that we haven't lost everything.

Each time we wake to see another day, draw another breath into our lungs, or allow a sense of love into our hearts; each time we find enough strength within ourselves to laugh through our tears, or feel that we are in the presence of a message or sign from our children; each time we recognize something beautiful in our surroundings, or feel some measure of peace in our souls, no matter how short lived those peaceful moments may be, we have to remind ourselves that in this broken world of no guarantees, each of these moments is a gift not be overlooked or taken for granted, but instead to be celebrated.


  1. With the things I have been through, whenever I list them out to someone who doesn't know, they always do the *suck in air* "WOW" thing and then they get all silent. I'm sure you get the same reaction, different reasons.

    But I reached the same conclusions. Sometimes, it just is. Somehow, you and I are still standing. I don't know why, it just is.

    So it's time to do something with that.


  2. I could not make it through one sentence of this post without crying. It is such a beautiful post. It is unfair what people must endure, especially those suffering multiple losses. My heart breaks everytime i hear of someones loved one passing. And you are right, life is to be celebrated and not taken for granted! Thanks for this post!

  3. You are an amazing writer, and this is a perfect post. It seems like so many horrible, horrible things are happening lately. And to such wonderful people. It seems so unfair. It's so easy to get stuck in the "woe is me" mentality. But you've inspired me today. Thank you. Xoxo

  4. This is such a beautiful post and so very, very true. Thank you. You are a gifted writer.

  5. Oh, Kristin. Thank you so much for this post. I am so profoundly affected by people's stories, and it just makes my heart break over and over again. My mom's brother developed leukemia when he was 14 and it took him when he was 35 years old. A few years after he died, my cousin developed leukemia at 5 years old. He is, very thankfully, 5 years cancer free right now, but we were in a TAILspin because it's not supposed to strike twice in a family. Life is just so unfair.
    But, really, this post is beyond beautiful. I had to read it 3 times. Thank you.

  6. Thank you so very much this post. I need to remind myself all the time of what I do have. It is so easy to lost in the land of IF and loss. I will never understand why so many bad things happen to such good people.

  7. What a great thought. Puts it all into perspective. We have all lost alot but still have much to be grateful for! Thank you for your inspiring words!!

  8. So very sad for that family....and sadly there are so many stories of just utter hopelessness, I dont know how we all are standing upright, but we are, somehow, and amazingly so. I wish a free pass was available too. Hugs, Nan xxx

  9. beautifully written..... so true.


  10. A free pass sure would be nice, wouldn't it? Lacking that, I will count the blessings I do have. Thanks for the beautiful reminder.

  11. I wish there were free passes. My dear friend lost her twins in 2009 at 22 weeks and tomorrow is burying her 3rd son who she lost at 23 weeks.

    I buried my child who they told me wouldn't be born alive. And when she was I was given false hope.

    I found your blog through the blog I found on a friends site. I hope it's ok if I put your button on my blog

  12. Thanks for this post! One of the things I do often is remember how blessed I really am even though I had to say goodbye to my daughter.

  13. Oh...the free pass...if only. But, we know it isn't so, don't we? We know that truth quite intimately.

    There is much power in gratefulness...the simple act of being thankful for what I do have rescued me from the depths of bitterness. know, every moment when joy seeps through the darkness is a sweet victory. I was just talking to a friend who was heart-broken for a family we "knew" whose four-year-old daughter had died from cancer. She asked me, "How do you do it? How do you look at the grief around us everyday?" as she battled the guilt of enjoying her own day and her own family while someone else suffered.

    I told her that sometimes it is too much. Sometimes I am overcome. I, of course, lean on the One who is big enough to carry it. But, as far as the guilt goes...I have learned that when joy comes, I need to embrace and cherish it...soak in every moment. Because we never know when we will be called to walk through sorrow again. Those of us who have walked there know that reality all too well.

    Love and continued prayers for you...

  14. This is such a beautiful post, there is so much sadness out there it is almost overwhelming, I try to remind myself as well of the wonderful things in my life. Thank you for reminding me again.

    Thinking of you.

  15. So well said, I needed that reminder today.


  16. thank you for this beautiful reminder.

  17. sending you warmth and love....over the miles...but close in spirit. ((HUG))

  18. A free pass is what I keep asking for but it just doesn't come. I just keep praying that it does get better soon.

  19. As Suze Orman might say, "you said it, GIRLFRIEND." :)

  20. I wrote a whole long answer and then lost it :-( Probably just as well. The gist of it was that I suspect that people with stronger characters get given more to deal with. And to that end I bargained with G-d that I no longer want to be one of those stronger people, I'm ready for my life to become a calm, flat plateau. Apparently that's not how the game works, it seems not to be what we signed up for. And so now I am also trying to find the beauty in surrender, and some days I can do that, and some days I can't. But I know that no matter how bad it gets, I will never be given anything I can't survive. Eventually. Even though it doesn't always feel that way. Thank you so much for a beautiful, moving post. Thank you for reminding me of exactly what I need to hear right now. I think you should write a book.

  21. Your post reminded me of a moment I had this past week. I had the chance to hear a woman who had just lost her home to fire sing a song I've never heard before, about carrying on even when things are at their worst. The last line unexpectedly brought me to tears - "I know I'm filled to be emptied again, The seed I've received I will sow."

    It hit me hard, and I had to think that what she was singing about was the definition of true courage. Courage so strong that I wonder if I could ever possibly be like that. Babyloss families have to have superhuman strength and courage, to be able to carry on and appreciate any joys. I think you are both stronger and braver than you know.


  22. Loss can certainly never be compared since it is unique to each of us in the specific and precious relationships we lose....but you are right in that perspective certainly is gained, isn't it??

    I just find myself often thanking God that the pain I am dealing with is NOT the pain of that family...the man who lost his wife as she gave birth to his twins, and his oldest son at 22 to the same connective tissue disorder that killed his wife, and his 17 year old twin son six months after his 22 year old....and a week before he was diagnosed with blood cancer...

    Or the mom who had a successful IVF, twins, premature birth, one twin died after 7 hours, the other after 7 months in NICU, never to come home...

    The suffering of others breaks my heart, but also reminds me to be thankful for what I have been blessed with. Hard to remember, but so important!

  23. So beautifully articulated. I too have questioned, again and again, why bad things happen to such lovely people when there are much better 'contenders'. But then again, I'm not God and don't get to make the calls.

    What struck me from your post, besides the stories of heartache and totally foot-stomping unfairness was:
    "It is so important that we not allow our grief to make us complacent in our living. We must not turn our backs on the day to day joys, no matter how minuscule they seem in comparison to the dark cloud that sorrow has cast over our lives."

    - Susie.

  24. Great post!
    I'm praying for you!
    Hugs and Love,

  25. oh boy...I know too many parent's who have more than one child in heaven. I remember after Emma died the grief counselor looked at me and said "you know even though this is the most painful thing you have experienced up to this point, bad things will still happen, you don't get a free pass" I never quite understood that until years later. I liked the note to God :)