In mid April 2015 our daughter-in-law spoke words my heart had longed to hear for years. “You’re going to be a grandmother.”
My delighted anticipation lasted only a few short weeks. On May 6th my son called to say they were loosing the baby. It was a heartbreaking and difficult wait, especially for Tess who had to cope with physical pain and another sudden hormonal shift in addition to the dashed dreams. That baby’s birthday would have been in early December if the pregnancy had been carried to completion.
In the spring we all grieved in our own ways. By late summer we had begun to adjust and to accept the loss. When December rolled around, I knew I had to so something to acknowledge this precious child we would never have the opportunity to hold in our arms.
December 6th was a balmy, windy day. I headed into the park to a spot sacred to my soul. I carried a bag of rose petals I bought to float on the creek. I also carried songs of love, grief, gratitude, life and death along with heartfelt prayer for all the children who were conceived and never born in my lineage.
I hiked down the steep, muddy trail to where the creek bends. Looking toward the east the forest is lush with moss, ferns, Doug firs, and ancient cedars. Looking toward the west there are limbless burnt trunks left from the pipeline explosion some dozen years earlier. This is an intersection of bitter and sweet. A place that can hold the beauty and anguish of love and loss.
My heart sank when I saw a beautiful, young woman sitting on a huge rock just above the one I planned to be on for my ritual. It was obvious this was a special place to her as well. I assumed she, like I, would want her space. I walked back up the creek just a little and sat on a rock by the creek to wait for the space to become available. After five minutes or so I looked up and saw the woman was gone. I started to gather my things to move to the rock when she appeared on the trail behind me.
She smiled and asked if I was having a good day. I told her I was and said I hoped I hadn’t disturbed her. “Not at all.” she replied. Then she asked, “Can I give you a hug?” I gladly received her sweet hug, and thanked her warmly. We wished each other well and she was on her way.
Most of my rock was underwater, the creek now more a raging river than the lazy, shallow stream of the summer. Still I made it out on to the rock without getting wet and spent time in prayer with the unborn and the Mystery. The force of the water caused the petals to vanish in an instant, like the pregnancy. My tears met the waters of the creek and the wind carried my promise. “I will never forget you.”