The other day I had a business meeting at Starbucks (seriously, does work get any better?). I was a little warm, so I took off my cardigan, laid it across the back of my chair, and got back to talking.
Later, at home, I went to put my cardigan back on. I couldn't find it. With dread (yes, DREAD) it dawned on me that I must have left it at Starbucks. I whipped out my handy iPhone, googled the number and likety-split was asking a barista to please, puh-lease, look for it.
New customers claimed stake at our table, making it difficult for her to search. I overheard her ask a customer if "that" was "theirs?" They said yes, and she promptly told me, "Sorry. No cardigan here."
"But you don't understand," I wanted to gush, "this is no ordinary cardigan. It is THE cardigan. The ONE and ONLY cardigan that goes with every outfit, is perfectly soft, doesn't wrinkle, hasn't faded in a year . . . oh, and did I mention, it goes with every outfit?? So you see, not finding it 15 minutes after I leave is simply not acceptable. It MUST be there."
I didn't gush the way I wanted. I said "fine" with half-resignation, half-defiance the way my daughter says "fine" when I tell her to turn off her TV, or go to bed, or to stop climbing up that wall, or to stop picking her nose.
But I didn't feel fine. Every time I remembered that my cardigan was out in 'nowhere land' I felt a little panicky.
The next day, I promptly called Starbucks again.
"Hi, I called yesterday. I'm looking for a black cardigan that I left there."
----on hold for a minute ------
"No, sorry, no cardigan here."
Seriously, I thought, this is not OK. So I persisted . . .
"Well, I know that I lost it yesterday. I was sitting by the window, next to the mugs you sell. Can you please look again? At the very least, I'd like to leave my name and number for when you find it." (Notice I said "When" and not "if." Verbiage is VERY important when you're trying to get your point across!)
------ on hold for 5 minutes -----------
"Oh, look!" the barista acted surprised, "Here it is. Someone moved it. Must've been here all along."
So, that afternoon, now finally at peace with the fact that my oh-so-perfect-Nordstrom cardigan is FINALLY home . . . It occurs to me how much I hate feeling like something that I value is lost. I mean, I really, really hate it.
It's a feeling that is always with me. Something -- someone -- is lost. Someone is supposed to be here, but they're not. It's quite disconcerting.
My brother Andrew posted on Facebook about his own disconcerting experience:
Two nights ago, while I was in another room, a thief climbed through my bedroom window and stole my Macbook Pro, as well as the bag that I carry everywhere.
My bag had a LOT inside: camera, iPod, checkbook, Bible, journal, books, tools, cash, umbrella, etc.
Altogether, the bag and laptop were probably my two most valuable possessions, in both sentimental and real value, yet they were gone in the blink of an eye. I felt violated and personally offended that someone would enter my living space in order to take things that didn't belong to them.
And with those words, my brother, who could never know what it's like to experience death inside of his own body, has perfectly crafted the words that mark my miscarriage experience . . .
And that, my friends, is how I feel about the death of my babies.
Violated by death. Like a thief snuck into my living space --- my BODY -- while I wasn't watching, and took my most valued possessions. Gone, in a blink of an eye.
Simply -- profoundly -- gone.
That feeling I had when my cardigan was lost, the feeling my brother has right now -- that unsettled feeling that things are not right and something is missing -- is how I feel day in and day out. Because my babies are gone. Stolen by death.
Maybe I will get used to the feeling, and it will be a new normal, and it won't hurt me so much. But maybe I will never get used to it.
My brother has a great lesson in store for us --- as he's never one to take things at face value without finding a spiritual application (something I could learn from him):
Besides learning to close the window when not in a room, what's the real lesson here?
No matter how much or how little you have, never place too much value on the things you own or invest too much energy in preserving everything you have, because no matter how hard you try, you cannot guarantee the security of your possessions. When you die, you can't take any of it with you anyway. I am reminded that the only thing I can fully trust that can never be taken away by any thief or disaster is the love of God, the forgiveness of my sins, and the guarantee of salvation I have because of Jesus. There is no security in placing your identity in anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ.
What else? According to the gospel, no matter how good of a person I may seem to be, I'm just as undeserving of God's grace as the thief who stole my belongings on Saturday night. Now, THAT is humbling and hard for me to accept, but it is true nonetheless. I still feel some anger towards the person who wronged me, and my heart/attitude isn't 100% right, but God is using this experience to help me learn and grow, even if it is painful. I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I know that I WILL forgive that thief, because God has forgiven me for so much already.
Really, I don't know how much better I could put it.
As much as I might love that cardigan -- it's not going with me. As hard as I try to protect my babies, there is no guarantee for their safety or security. While at least I know they will be in heaven, the only thing that I will NEVER have to be separated from here on Earth is God's love and forgiveness. And the HOPE I have in heaven.
And to quote him yet again . . . .
I still feel some anger [...], and my heart/attitude isn't 100% right, but God is using this experience to help me learn and grow, even if it is painful. I'm not sure if I'm there yet, but I know that I WILL forgive that thief, because God has forgiven me for so much already.
I'm not there yet . . . but one day, I will be.