Some time ago, fellow blogger and sister-in-loss, Justine Froelker, reached out and asked me to review a chapter of her upcoming book, Ever Upward: Overcoming the Lifelong Losses of Infertility to Own a Childfree Life. I’ll admit I was hesitant, since reading and somehow “grading” a person’s heart notes can be scary, especially if the relationship isn’t the stuff of marrow and soul. But I wanted to do it for her, in honor of the heart shards we share.
The chapter title which spoke to me most was Chapter 8: Emerging to Own Myself Again. The visual representation I had was of a wounded butterfly recocooning itself to heal, yet reemerging, after a Season of grief and recovery, better and stronger because of its traumas or, as Justine calls them, “soul scars”. It is precisely that image that Justine puts into words:
It was with these words, “own and not just prove”, that I felt my calling, my purpose. I needed to own every single part of my story and not just prove it. I needed to stop trying to prove that my path is okay. That not doing another round of IVF is okay. That not being a mother is okay. That not adopting is okay. Stop trying to prove it and just own it. Own my struggles in the IVF world. Own that I stopped treatments. Own that I don’t want to adopt. Own that I am more than childless. Own that I will practice and fight for my recovery and my own childfree life.
Despite the fact that our stories are similar, I don’t pretend to understand all that Justine has suffered. I am, now more than ever, keenly aware of the breadth and depth of the loss spectrum. And surely, if I have learned anything about grief and recovery, it is that each is uniquely personal. Truly, a pebble thrown in the well of the heart will never make exactly the same ripple twice. And I believe it is designed that way. As my husband says, “God is not a god of repetition”: no two trees are alike, no two flowers and yes, no two traumas are either.
Justine’s chapter reminds me of this and what waits for us on the other side:
We are only capable of understanding so much in this life, and maybe we’re only allowed to understand so much. Maybe I will always have to create this constant balance between finding my purpose through the story of my struggle, making sure it means more, at least to me, and trusting that it will still mean just as much without the soul-completing clarity I so desire.
Perhaps the anger will hang on; perhaps the question of whether or not to try again will be a daily, if not an hourly, one; perhaps our sacred light will be snuffed out, at least for awhile; but Justine reminds us that there is more after loss. There is joy, and purpose, and yes…
There. Is. Life.
Until I spin my next web,