You are now 22 weeks old, sweet Flicker, which candidly speaking is an age I never thought you would achieve. I realize it is uncommon to consider gestational age in this way, but we are in an uncommon situation. Our situation mandates that we count each week of this life-in-progress as the only life you may live.
Context helps to bring me sanity on the hard days, while on other days the context that I invite breaks me in two. We are only 18 weeks away from the 40-week benchmark that most families circle on their calendars in anxious anticipation. For us, these 18 weeks tell two contradicting stories:
Story 1: 18 weeks, in the grand scheme of my life, is actually quite short. When I find myself questioning how I am going to survive this season of sadness, I try to focus on the notion that this specific breed of sadness – what I would consider the anticipation of deep grief – will not last forever. By no means am I asserting, sweet Flicker, that once you go on to meet your Maker that my season of sadness will end. In fact, it is almost guaranteed to deepen; morphed into a new season of grief over missing you. I truly cannot process how I am going to survive that breed of sadness; a mystery which will reveal itself in due time. You and me and your dad. Day by day. That is all we can live right now.
Story 2: 18 weeks, in the grand scheme of your life, is just not long enough. As humans we are hardwired to hate death, to fear it and mourn it and prolong it as long as possible. It gives me some comfort to know that you will likely never have to consciously confront this fear, but rather its cause will take you before that time comes. However the realization that your death could come at any time (which is true for all of us, I suppose), but at maximum 18 weeks from now, (which is true for none of us, I suppose) leaves me paralyzed. So we end up in the same place – you and me and your dad. Day by day. That is all we can live right now.
In speaking with one of our pastors about you, sweet Flicker, we were given some very sound advice. Though right now is certainly a dark valley, one day, some day, we will be living in light. This promise of light is asserted over and over again in the Bible, and is something that your dad and I promise to each other every day. But we were cautioned against establishing specifically what form this “light” will take in the future, as failing to reach such an inflexible definition could cause significantly more darkness. Bitterness. Hopelessness. Anger. So against all temptation we are trying not to put pressure on ourselves or God to fulfill our parameters of light. To make you whole. To give us a biological family. To take away this pain. Rather, we are clinging to this ambiguous promise of light as the destination of this tough journey together.
Truthfully, sweet Flicker, I think that this current season of darkness will always leave a mark on my soul. And that is OK. What the promise of light tells me is that while the darkness today can be nearly all-consuming, that will not always be the case. Slowly but surely, some darkness will be replaced by uncertainty. And uncertainty by optimism. And optimism by light. Your infinitely talented father created a drawing to reflect this progression, which I study with you each day. I have re-created it as the backdrop for this space, sweet Flicker, in hopes that it can serve as a visual reminder of the promise of light to others who find themselves in the dark.
You and me and your dad. Day by day. That’s all we can live right now.