The swings in emotion one human being can take in one day is just unbelievable. And today, more clearly than ever, they were all orchestrated by God. That’s it–it’s the only way.
A snippet: My sister calls to check in on us, and lets me know she and my nephew put together a special care package for us, en route today.
Our neighbor and friend thinks he has volunteered to drive us to the airport Saturday for a 4 AM flight, that is actually at 4 PM. And he is willing to be there just the same.
After calling two dear friends, who were ready to drop everything, my wonderful best buddy, Tia B, comes over at the drop of a hat so Andy and I can go together to make arrangements with the funeral director for Faith.
Due to a parish reorganization, I can’t get a hold of our priest. I feel a bit panicked, wondering if we were making the right choices for Faith’s remains, so just call the nearest Catholic church, where Father Kevin gets on the phone and listens to a complete stranger (did I even tell him my name?) try to make intelligible noises to say “Our 20 week ultrasound showed our baby had died and she was born Saturday. We are going to the funeral home today. Should we have her anointed?” He listens patiently, and kindly lets me know we have done all that is asked of us as Christian parents, and to please take my time and not apologize. To please call if we need anything else.
I hang up the phone and have a complete meltdown in time to realize that I can not possibly wear any of my maternity clothes. Ever. Again. But I don’t fit into anything else. And now I’m late to meet Andy and Tia B is already here, and thank goodness Cal knows how to open the tricky screen door. I find my postpartum squishy dress and realize I look naked and put on my pearl necklace Andy got me the first Christmas we were together. I look like a grown-up now. With a very red face and bloodshot eyes. I see Tia B and proceed to cry my eyes out in the arms of the best hugger known to friend-dom. Oh, I don’t want to do this.
I get in the car and drive to Andy’s work and meet him outside the gate, where I promptly proceed to misread his intended path and nearly run over his foot. The last time I picked him up was just three days ago for Faith’s ultrasound. As I get out to let him drive (my motion sickness has magically vanished after Faith’s birth), he tells me he just got out of a meeting. He got his first promotion since starting work 3 years ago. I don’t even know what to say–it’s wonderful, and I’m happy, then want to cry, because we’re driving to the funeral home next. I remember that I forgot to pump before I left, and pray for the 500th time since Friday afternoon that Faith’s milk will come in for Libby.
When we get there, the funeral director greets us at the door, and I’m glad we’ve decided we don’t need to see Faith again. As we sit down, I expect to be given options for small urns and various levels of care for the remains. As the funeral director opens the file marked “Baby Vanchura,” I see a sheet with lines through all the options columns. He lets us know that they couldn’t accept payment from us, and the only charge for their services is the $63 for the medical examiner’s signature. I had just shifted all the rest of our savings into our checking, anticipating a bill for hundreds of dollars. I feel so humbled, and so grateful to have been given such a gift. My eyes fill with tears, and we both just thank him for the incredible gift. We tell him a little bit about what we are doing in the coming week, how God was shaping every plan, starting a year ago, knowing He would call Faith home. And I ask him to write “Faith Rowan Vanchura” instead of “Baby Vanchura” and he says he would be happy to. We leave smiling and with the weight of this burden so much easier for some reason…far beyond the financial. The meeting took five minutes.
We stop by the baby store to see if we could find a slimmer car seat for Libby when she comes home. Eight days ago I was there checking to see if they had supplemental nursers (they didn’t), and we had parked in the expectant mother parking, just for fun. Today we skip those vacant spots and park way out.
As we leave, bemoaning the rock-climber-like hand strength it takes to buckle the new style of car seat, I realize Andy and I haven’t been eating much, and a frozen coke for him and a gas station cappuccino for me sounds good. We drive back into our town and I drop him off at his car at work. I really feel happy, and he does, too.
We get home to happy kids and adventures involving backyard ants and sweet baby cuddles from Tia B’s 4-month-old. We have dinner together and I can’t believe the time when our wonderful friend the next town over comes over. She’s checking in on our routine, because with a day’s notice, she and her husband are rearranging their whole lives next week, so she can come watch our crew for the weekend. Not to mention she has volunteered to be our airport photographer from leaving to the day we bring Libby home. How do you even thank someone who pours themselves out for the mission God called your family to? Oh yes, because He hasn’t called just one part of the body to make this happen. It’s like standing in the center of a battle, with the greatest warriors protecting YOU…not because YOU are important, but because your MISSION is.
How am I even supposed to breathe when I feel God’s presence protecting every step and healing every hurt? God is supposed to be invisible. His words are written down, but you don’t expect to walk in a whole day of the world in perpetual divine care.
I turn on the computer after the kids are in bed, and see a beautiful gift in a private message. A spiritual bouquet of memorare offered, Hail Mary’s spoken, rosaries promised, and hours of prayer pledged to our family, our Faith, in the month of July. A memorial rosary coming to our home tomorrow. All from women I have known so well this year, but never met face to face, who chipped in to show their love.
Oh, Lord, with grace like this, who has any right to grieve? And still we do. But gently, with the edges smoothed over. Then suddenly, with support coming uncalled to our door. And so strongly, with an army of angels offering prayers to hold our hearts during the darkness. Because we still won’t have our baby in December. And that’s just hard to think about right now.
But our baby girl in Eastern Europe needs us now, too. For much, much longer, and with such a deep need. And when I think that by this time next week I will know her name, I can hardly believe it. Andy and I said our lives right now are a strange screenplay by an avant garde Italian director who loves Jesus. Today I broke out in a spontaneous rendition of West Side Story’s “Tonight, Tonight” for the kids with improvised lyrics involving cleaning the basement, so possibly Bollywood. It’s hard to say.
I’ve smiled and cried three different times each just writing about this day. I don’t know how long I can take these mood swings. But, I don’t know how I could make it through without them.