Saturday, November 16, 2013

Greg and Heather Go on a Date

Last night we were crazy.  

We went on a date.  The kind where you SPEND MONEY. 

The kind where you LEAVE THE HOUSE. 

We had a gift card to Olive Garden, and instead of waiting for some special occasion, we decided to just go out and spend it.  We both went nuts and ordered drinks. Not water, my friends.  Not water. 

As insane as it sounds, we were not finished after that.  We didn't just do one fun thing yesterday night, we did two fun things.  

I'll give you a hint.


 One of them entails wearing someone else's shoes. 

You'll notice I'm also wearing a skirt and tights.  Not very many people can pull off bowling in a skirt and tights, but I like to flatter myself that I am one of them. I wore a skirt to work yesterday for no particular reason except I wanted to feel pretty.  I just wanted to be cute. It's been awhile, you know?

We bowled two games.  Greg won both of them, but I'd like to submit Photographic Evidence A that at one point, I was beating him: 

And that’s pretty much the only time I was ahead. 

Here is Greg in all his bowling glory:

You will notice the semi-freaky hair on his upper lip.  Yeah.  Greg is doing that no-shave November thing.  I am not the kind of wife who forbids facial hair.  But I’m also not the kind of wife who feels any obligation to make him feel good about it.  When he says something like “Doesn’t it look good?” I usually say something like “No.  It looks bad.  Super bad.  Anyways I still like you.” And then Greg laughs.

Our date to an (overpriced) Italian restaurant and the BYU bowling alley has got me thinking about some other things. If this post could have a secondary title, I think it would be something like “The Purpose of Sorrow.” I’ve been musing on that for the last few days.  Sometimes I feel guilty that we are recovering.  I wonder if guilt is something that always hangs over the people who are left over when something scary happens to a family. Or maybe it’s just me. 

But I’m learning that there is a purpose to sorrow.  I remember a few days after Danny and Austin were born, I was sitting on the bed, crying.  I think my stomach still felt strange and empty and like all the muscles were missing.  I still looked pregnant, because somewhere around 14 weeks a bump showed up that was larger than I thought it would be and wonderfully full and round. Newsflash:  It doesn’t go away immediately.  Everyone at the funeral home will know that you are the mother of the two little boys as soon as you walk in.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But anyway, I remember sitting on the bed and crying, but saying to Greg, We don’t have to feel despair.  We never have to feel that, because that is never something God intends for us.  It isn’t constructive.  It isn’t purposeful.  Despair accomplishes nothing. Greg agreed with me.  After all, Greg is the one who taught me that.

There are two kinds of sorrow: the kind that is from God, and the kind that is not.  God intends for sorrow to teach us things.  It teaches us to be more like Him.  It teaches us to be compassionate.  It teaches us to feel grateful for our blessings.  It allows us the capacity to see blessings in our lives we would not have noticed otherwise.  It teaches us how to find strength within ourselves, a strength that comes only when you say to God, This is hard for me, but I’ll do it if you want me to. And I won’t even be mad about it. In short, Sorrow is the thing that allows us to be older—not older and weary, but older and wise. 

I do not know if I would call myself wise, but I would say that Greg and I have had very purposeful sorrow.  And, funnily enough, one of the purposes of sorrow is to teach you to be happy. I am finally understanding at a meaningful level what the scriptures mean when they say, if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet. My little family has imparted a kind of sweetness to my life that I have never had before. And it's so hard, but so worth it. 

Greg and I don’t know what will happen.  I don’t even know what I want to have happen.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t know anything.  But, we know enough. I am not happy every second of the day.  I am not even Okay every second of the day, but I remind myself that Sorrow has a purpose, and the kind of Sorrow that does not have a purpose—the kind of Sorrow that is mostly discouragement and despair and hopelessness and anger—has no place in my life. 

This is why Greg and I went to Olive Garden.  This is why we went bowling.  Because it’s okay to be happy, even though something bad happened.  It’s also okay to be sorrowful, but only if there’s a purpose in that.  There is an opposition in all things only because these two great extremes—Happiness and Sorrow—are actually so interconnected.  Like Greg says, I would go through anything to feel what it’s like to hold my own child again. Anything.  I would handle this kind of Sorrow as long as I was asked to if it meant bringing our children to our family in the way God wants us to.  It makes us happy.  It has a purpose.

If you made it this far, thanks for listening to my musings.  Who knew one date could be so abstractly meaningful? I suppose finding meaning in smaller things is the epitome of parenthood, especially the kind of parenthood that Greg and I know. 

Okay.  Cheesy musings done.  Have a great weekend. Love, Heather

Monday, November 11, 2013

Things That Make Me Happy

Allow me to romanticize and do some cheesy writing. Writing makes me happy.

(Other) Things That Make Me Happy

1.  I want you to do me a favor.  Listen to this song.  The whole thing.  Close your eyes.  Sit back on your couch, and just listen.  Let your mind wander and let your heart feel happy, and good, and peaceful.

I know what you are thinking.

I don't have time for this...

Yes you do.  You have 3 minutes and 44 seconds.  You have time.

I don't know where I originally found this song, but today it made me happy.  It always makes me think of beautiful things and I don't even know where they come from. An apartment in Europe that is quiet and simple, the ocean under an open sky, the moments when I am with my husband and thinking of nothing else.

Now, this song makes me think of my children as well.  I say, Listen, little boys.  This is beautiful.  This is called music.  It is beautiful.  And it teaches us there are still beautiful things in the world. 

2. Today I drove home from taking Greg to work.  I parked the car.  I felt so heavy.  I felt so old. But then out of nowhere the sun was shining.  It was so bright.  It hit my windshield perfectly.  I love the sun.  I hate dark and dreary winters.  Today Heavenly Father sent me sunshine and I closed my eyes and sat in the sun for as long as I could, and it was warm, and I cried.  For my family and for myself and because I love the sun.

3. Greg makes me happy.  Happier than anything else.  On Friday when I came home from work I stepped in the door to the smell of bread baking.  Greg made homemade pizza with homemade sauce, pepperoni, and Canadian bacon.

It doesn't get any better than this, my friends. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life Now

She says, How long have you been married?

I say, Three years.

She says, Wow.

Because it seems like a long time to her.

She says, So do you have any kids?

I say, What?

Not because I didn't hear her, but because I'm stalling.  I've started answering that question differently.

She says, Do you have any kids?

I say, Yes.  I have two little twin boys.

She looks happy.

I let her look happy for a little while.

And then I say, But they were born really early, so they were stillborn.

She looks like she doesn't know how she's supposed to look.

I wonder again if I'm handling these conversations the right way.

She says, Oh.

I decide I don't care if I'm handling these conversations the right way, or the wrong way.  I want to tell her not to be sad, or sorry, but it doesn't ever come out of my mouth.  I wish there was some way that I could explain to her--and to everyone--that I actually don't mind conversations like these. I am proud I get to tell people about them. I am proud of them.  It reminds me of the feeling I had when the nurse let me carry them out of the delivery room and up to the recovery room while I sat in the wheelchair.  I was so glad no one took them away from me.  I wanted to protect them and I was so, so proud of my little boys. I have never felt that full in my entire life. It doesn't make sense, but that's how it was.

These conversations where I tell people I'm a mom...they almost make me happy.

And that's the thing.  Greg and I are healing.  I might even say that we are healing beautifully.  Some days are harder than others.  Some days I feel so heavy inside and so empty inside all at the same time.

But we have decided that we will move forward.  That means I keep myself busy.  I have a new job.  I work full time.  I come home and study.  I go to bed.  I think of my sons in the moments before sleep and in the darkness of the early morning hours. Their names run through my head over and over and over.  Sometimes my arms just ache to hold them again. Sometimes when I am sitting at my desk I will think of how bright the sun was on the morning we buried them, how the flagpole clinks in the cemetery and sounds like a swing on a playground.  Sometimes I picture them so clearly for no reason at all. Sometimes I look around myself and think, What am I doing here? What even happened?

But mostly, we are moving forward. We are so changed. But you still have to do laundry, get groceries, sit in Relief Society, drive to work.

I am almost doing better than I ever thought would be possible.  I am more resilient than I thought. This, I suppose, is just a sign of the blessing that our years of infertility and our experience last summer have been.  God has been making me stronger. He knows what He's doing, and He always did. Even during the months when I sat and thought, This can't be right. This is not how my life is supposed to be.

But everything has been how it was supposed to be. And because of that, we step forward.  We remember them, day by day, even minute by minute. But somehow we are moving forward.

It makes me worry a little. Like maybe moving on is some kind of betrayal. How can I love so much, and still worry about that at the same time? But how can I love so much, and move on? Turns out, you don't have to spend too much time physically being with your children to wonder and wonder and wonder if you are a good Mommy.

I have this picture in my head sometimes.  I picture a loving God somewhere in Heaven looking down at me.  I picture there are tears on His cheeks because He knows He has asked me to do the thing that was most difficult for me in the world.  And He says, You can do it, Heather.  You really can.

And I picture my little boys with Him.

And I say, I know.  I know I can.