Goodbye, My Brother

DaviidMeD

Last Friday, my brother David went deep sea diving in Turks and Caicos with a guide and a small group. He never came back to the boat. They found his body on Saturday. We don’t know what happened—we’ll have more answers once we get the autopsy report back.

I’m not even sure how to begin processing this loss. With my mom, we knew for months that she wasn’t going to make it. Not that the knowing made her death any easier to bear—it didn’t—but there is something to be said for being prepared.

But this? This was fast and furious and shocking on every level. As of Friday morning, I had two brothers on this earth. Now I only have one. Just like that.

David only lived in the same house as me until I was three years old, and after that he moved to California, where he would reside for the rest of his life. One of my earliest memories is of me begging him not to go. “I’ll stay if you lick my feet,” he said. Then he shoved his foot in my face. Ah, big brothers.

Although we were on opposite ends of a very large sibling age spread—he the eldest, me the youngest—people always told us that we had the most similar personalities out of any of the siblings. As children we were both energetic, fiercely independent, spirited and not afraid to speak our minds. In this way, I’ve always felt a special connection with him. He got me and I got him.

One thing I most definitely did not share with my brother was his sense of adventure. The man was fearless. He tried every extreme sport known to man, and he excelled at them all. I am a total wuss, you guys. One Thanksgiving I went quad riding with David in the California desert. After riding around on some baby dunes for a few minutes, I stopped the quad and started crying. I was terrified of tipping over and dying. My brother turned around, comforted me and then escorted me back to the campsite. He and everyone else in the group spent the rest of the trip riding on serious dunes, and I drove around on the flats near our campsite. This was A-OK with me—my brother could be adventurous for both of us.

In addition to being a badass thrill seeker, David was many things—tough on the outside and a sap on the inside, determined, kind, always up for a good fart joke, outrageously charming, mischievous and the most generous person I’ve ever met.

One day he was all of that, filling the world with his larger-than-life personality, and now he is just gone. I still can’t believe it.

The last time I talked to David was a few weeks ago. He called and said, “Did you notice I haven’t called in a while? I didn’t want you to think I forgot about you.” I’m pretty sure I said something jokingly and unintentionally salty, like, “Well it’s not like you usually call a lot.” He was on his car phone. The connection kept cutting out. I felt like I had to yell so he could hear me. It was, quite honestly, an overall awkward conversation. But damn, am I glad he called. He seemed happy, content and at peace. We talked about how much he loved being a stay-at-home dad. We lamented over our kids growing up too fast. Best of all, I got to say I love you to him, one last time. And for that, I will be forever grateful.

So here’s my one request to you. It’s nothing new. People always say this when someone dies, but I don’t think it can be said too much: call your parents or your sister or that friend you haven’t spoken to in years. Hug your babies. Give your dog a nice, big squeeze. Leave a sweet note for your spouse or partner to find. If you love someone, let them know—as often and in as many ways as you can.

Because life is too precious. And far, far too short.

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My two brothers at my wedding.
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David and his son.
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Hanging with my mom at a Padres game.
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A back-in-the day shot with my sister.
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Family shot at the beach. This was taken the summer Tim and I got engaged.
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David and Lettie.
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David having a moment with his son. This was taken at my mom’s grave site. We all hung around for a while after the service and shared stories about her.
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Goof.
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Last summer: the last time the whole fam was together.
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This is one of my favorites. My siblings, minus one sister.

The Ghosts Of Christmas Past

Angel

On paper, I’m all set up to have a Norman Rockwell Christmas. I’m a mother to a three year old who has stars in her eyes about the season. I’m approaching the 14th week of what is, as far as I know, a healthy pregnancy. We have a tree with an angel on top and garland around our banister. Our house smells like cinnamon.

But then, underneath, there’s so much sadness.

Last Christmas, I woke up covered in blood. I left my daughter just after opening stockings to get an ultrasound. And at that ultrasound we found out our much-longed-for baby no longer had a heartbeat. It was one of the worst days of my life. I came home from the clinic and put on a good face. I didn’t want to ruin the magic for Lettie, my living child. We opened presents and I exclaimed in excitement over every little thing. I pushed all that grief aside, put it in a neat little box marked “Christmas,” and left it there. And sure, I did grieve some over the next few weeks and months, but my deepest, most secret sadness remained tucked away.

Here’s the thing about grief: it doesn’t like being ignored. It’s stubborn, and it comes out one way or another.

Two weeks ago, we went to the hardware store to pick out our Christmas tree. The same hardware store we went to last Christmas. As we were paying for everything, I found myself in the middle of a panic attack. Last year I was pregnant, just like this year. Last year I felt so much hope for the future, just like this year. It’s going to happen again, I thought, I’m going to lose this baby, too, just like last year.

And it’s not just the miscarriage that is making me melancholy. I miss my mom more than usual this time of year, too. I wish she were here now. I wish she were here last year. I wish she were here always.

Christmas is hard. Pregnancy after infertility and loss is hard. I keep waiting for someone to come along and say, “Just kidding, we’re taking this baby away from you, too! Sorryyyyy!”

There is always something to be fearful about. Last Friday, we met with a genetic counselor, and it’s official: we can’t do any non-invasive blood testing because the vanishing twin could jack up the results. So we’ll be going into our 20-week ultrasound blind. The genetic counselor warned us they might find “soft markers” for genetic disorders at this ultrasound. The markers are pretty common and often mean nothing, but sometimes they’re indicative of downs or trisomy 13 or 18 or whatever else awful thing they’re on the lookout for. I am now terrified of this scan, and it’s still six weeks away.

On Monday, I brought homemade cupcakes to work. I tied a tag around each that said, “Baby B, due June 2016.” I wanted to do something fun to announce my pregnancy. I wanted to give this baby the celebration he or she deserves. But after I carefully placed the cupcakes on my co-workers’ desks, I walked to the bathroom and cried. My pregnancy was out there now, and I couldn’t take it back. No matter what happened, I couldn’t take it back.

And the thing is, I feel guilty for feeling all of this. I’m finally pregnant after wishing for it for so long, and I can’t even embrace it? What is wrong with me? I have a beautiful daughter who is beyond excited for Christmas. Why can’t I be excited right along with her?

I’m having a tough time of it, you guys. I’m trying, I truly am, but some days the ghosts are really loud.

 

38 Years Of Being Alive

Shortly after I turn 38, we fly to San Diego. We arrive at 2 am east coast time. When we emerge, bleary-eyed, from baggage claim into the warm night, Lettie points to the median in front of us and says, “Is that the jungle?”

“No, baby,” I say. “Those are palm trees.”

She turns to Tim and says, “Daddy, there are palm trees here,” and her eyes shine like she’s in on a secret.

**

The next day we gather at my brother’s house to celebrate my dad’s upcoming marriage,  because it’s never too late to find new love or old love or any kind of love. This is one thing I know: there is always more love.

I put on red lipstick and take pictures with my brothers and sisters. A mariachi band plays in the background. Lettie trades shoes with her cousin and together they set about the very important work of filling pails with landscaping rocks. Later, I will wash her dress and find tiny rocks in her pockets. Everywhere I go, I hear the sound of my sister’s distinctive laughter, a sound I have not heard in three years. Listening to it makes me feel two and ten and thirty-eight all at once. It is a reminder that wherever she is, wherever they all are, is home.

**

A couple of days later, I lounge sleepily by the pool with my twenty-two-year-old niece. We pass cans of chips back and forth. She takes pictures on Snapchat. I don’t even fully know what Snapchat is, but it doesn’t matter. We are two halves of kooky whole, her and I, always have been.

There is not one speck of white in the entire sky. The sun is hot, but the air is breezy. It is, quite possibly, the most perfect day in all the days.

“California is the worst,” I say.

“It really is,” she says.

One of my brothers, who has been busy in the kitchen, walks outside and heads to the lemon tree at the edge of the yard.

He pulls two lemons off the branch. “Can you believe it?” he says. “If you need lemons here, you just go pick lemons from a tree!”

I completely understand his excitement. It’s freshness and light, right at our fingertips. To me, it feels like this: in this magical place where tiny suns grow on trees, it’s almost like we are invincible.

**

On the ride to LA to visit Tim’s sister, fresh off a stop at In-N-Out burger, we get the news. Our close friend is losing his battle with brain cancer. It won’t be much longer now. Weeks, at most. I start crying in the backseat, where I am sitting next to Lettie. Tim keeps his eyes on the road, stoic as ever. Dry, cracked hills whiz by the window.

Lettie says, “What’s wrong, mama?”

So I tell her about cancer and dying and losing someone you love – all the things you wish you’d never have to explain to your child.

She looks at me with serious eyes, and then says, “Am I allowed to get cancer?”

I want to tell her, “No, you are not allowed to get cancer, not ever.” I want to be the Great Allower, the one who has control over All Things Terrible, so that I can keep her from them, so that I can keep everyone in the world from them, but I’m not. Not even close. So instead I tell her that it’s mostly older people who get cancer, and most people die when they’re old.

Then she says, “But I don’t want you to be old. I don’t want you to die. I don’t want you to leave me.”

I can’t tell her that this is the stuff of my nightmares — something happening to me, leaving her without a mom. Or something happening to her, leaving me with a moon-sized crater in my heart.

I can’t say any of that, so I say, “I promise you I will do everything in my power to stay with you for a long, long time.”

She points at me with her chubby, stubby finger and says, “Me too. I will do everything in my power to stay with you for a long, long time.” She stumbles over her words a little bit, but I hear her loud and clear.

There are seven stickers on her leg. An In-N-Out hat sits crooked on her head and she has ketchup on her fingers. Looking at her like that, I’ve never been more grateful that in this life where there is always more love, but never more time, she is mine for as long as the Great Allower allows it to be.

**

At the Santa Monica beach, the water is just chilly enough to feel refreshing. I hold Lettie’s hand as the waves wrap themselves around our ankles. Whenever one hits, she yells, “Heeee-YA,” and squeals with delight.

After a while, I pass her off to Tim and walk deeper into the ocean – something I haven’t done in years. I loved swimming in the sea as a child, but as I grew I got nervous about rip tides and creatures lurking in the depths. Today, though, I do it for our friend, who will never swim again. I dive beneath the surf, into the salty cold, feeling wholly alive in a way that I haven’t in a long time. I come back up for air and the sun is putting on a show, reflecting off the waves. It’s as if everything, everywhere is sparkling.

IVF #2: One

And that’s what we’re left with: one embryo. The other two are still alive, but she thinks that they will arrest by tomorrow. And that one “good” one? It’s not even that great. It’s two cells at day two, which is the minimum you can have at this point. The embryologist says that if we want to do a transfer of that one it will have to be on day 3. And that means no genetic testing.

I’m trying to get a hold of my doctor to discuss all of this before making a decision about a day 3 transfer, but it’s been over three hours and she hasn’t back called yet. I get that doctors are busy, but SERIOUSLY?

And that’s it. I don’t understand how this could’ve happened. It went from a pretty good cycle the first time to a really bad cycle this time. No minor variations here. Good to total crap. What the HELL, you guys?

I’m so disillusioned with this entire process. I have no idea if I can ever go through this again. It just breaks my heart. I’m so tired of grieving. I’m so tired of picking myself back up.

I am spent.

Little Girl Gone

We got our genetic test results back today. The baby I miscarried was a genetically normal girl.

The nurse I talked to said that there is a very small chance that my DNA could have contaminated the results, but she thinks it’s highly unlikely in this case. She explained why, but I was too out of it to really pay attention.

A part of me wished the baby had been genetically abnormal because then at least I would have known beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was not meant to be.

But she was normal. She should have had a chance. Instead she is just gone.

I want to scream “Why?” at the Universe. I want to kick down trees and bust through clouds and pound my hands on the street. I want to beg and barter. I want, more than anything, for this not to be true. But it is true. We had a little girl. She was normal, she was alive. And now she is gone.

Her name is Anna Adele Best.

Anna is after my paternal grandmother and Tim’s maternal grandmother. Adele is the name of Tim’s paternal grandmother. All those grandmas are in heaven now, if such a place exists, so hopefully they can keep our Anna close and tell her how much she is loved.

The fact that this baby was a girl is hitting me just as hard as the fact that she was genetically normal. I know just what it’s like to love a little girl and it’s pretty much the best thing ever. I know exactly what I’m missing.

It makes me sad for Lettie, too. She could have had sister to share life with, a best friend, a conspirator.

My Anna. Gone from us too soon, but loved beyond measure.

I love you to the sky and back, sweet girl. I hope to someday hold you on the other side.

We’re Still Us

t&tjokelarson

Tonight, our dear friend came over for dinner. He mentioned that he was planning on taking a trip to Iceland this summer. There are few things that Tim and I get more excited about than Iceland — we’ll talk about it with anyone who will listen. We traveled there in the summer of 2011 and it was the vacation of a lifetime. We, of course, had to immediately show our friend the photo slideshow we had made of the trip.

I hadn’t watched the slideshow in years. My first thought upon viewing it was, Who are these people? The couple in the video looked relaxed and carefree. They looked insanely happy.

They looked madly in love.

t&tkissingvolcano

I am undeniably still in love with Tim, but I can’t remember a time when we last looked that happy. We looked as if all that mattered in the world was each other. And it’s not like we were untouched by sadness during that trip — in fact, Tim’s childhood best friend had just died suddenly a few days before. I remember stopping on a black sand beach outside the town of Vik so Tim could drop a picture of his friend into the waves. We watched and cried together as it drifted out to sea. But even with that loss, I remember the trip as a time of sweetness and light.

To me, Iceland belongs to the time of Before. Before we lost my mom and our babies, before needles, endless doctors visits and drugs whose names I can’t pronounce. Of course, many happy things have also happened in the years since that trip — the most notable being the birth of our sweet Lettie. Despite all the good we’ve been blessed with, I’ve noticed that over the last few years our love has started to have a heaviness to it. What used to feel buoyant is now weighted down by our shared loss.

But here’s the thing I realized tonight. Although my first thought after seeing that slideshow was, Who are these people?, my next thought was Oh! That’s still us! And I started to feel excited. I began to feel hopeful for the first time in weeks.

Underneath all the grief and sadness, we are still those same two people who are madly in love. Our circumstances may have changed, but we didn’t. I believe that the core of who we are as a couple is still solid. We might not feel that giddy Icelandic happiness this very minute, but we’ve felt it before, and that alone is promise enough that we can feel it again. There’s no getting around the fact that we’re in a season of grief right now, but you never know:

A season of light could be just around the corner.

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Another Miscarriage or The Worst Christmas Ever

On Christmas Eve night I woke up with more bleeding. I had also developed some pain in my lower right side. I called the doctor’s office around 7 am on Christmas morning. We weren’t sure what to do. Should we start stockings and presents, knowing that the doctor might ask me to come in? They didn’t end up calling me back for an hour and a half, so we did start. What should have been an amazing Christmas morning with Lettie was tempered by the waiting and the pain in my side.

When they eventually called, they told me to come in. So we left Lettie with her grandparents and went. The whole time we were driving the 45 minutes to get there, I felt terrible for leaving her. Who on earth leaves their kid at Christmas? I looked out the window at the sunny sky and bare tree branches and felt like an asshole. I tried to talk to my embryo. Thump, thump, I thought at it, in an attempt to encourage a strong, beating heart.

The doctor’s office was a ghost town. There was one receptionist, one nurse and one doctor. The doctor did the ultrasound and said the blood clot had grown to twice its size. And the embryo no longer had a heartbeat. He looked for that heartbeat…and looked and looked. But it wasn’t there. The embryo had actually grown the right amount since the last ultrasound, but its heart had given up. The doctor was sorry, the nurse was sorry. Even the receptionist looked like she was about to cry. No one wants to give that news on Christmas morning.

The doctor said the baby might pass on its own or it might not. If I haven’t started bleeding before Monday, I’ll go back there and we can discuss a D & C. I haven’t had a bit of blood since Wednesday night, not even spotting.  I’m still having every pregnancy symptom, including morning sickness. My body, it seems, is trying to hang onto this one. My mind understands — I don’t want to let it go, either.

Now I am faced with the fact that not only do I have trouble getting pregnant, but I also have trouble staying pregnant. The doctor is going to run the panel of tests for recurrent miscarriage. I am praying that we get some answers, but I also have to be realistic and accept that we might not. I can’t help but wonder if Lettie was just a miraculous fluke. Like, maybe the Universe was saying, “Ok, her mom is dying, so we’ll let this one baby slide through for her, just this once.” Trust me,  I am grateful for that fluke every single day, but I’m starting to wonder if another one is just not meant to be.

So here I sit, entering yet another season of grief. There’s been a lot of that these last two and a half years — one mom and two babies. I feel like I know exactly what to expect now. There are those first few weeks of crushing sadness, of hiding in random bathrooms to cry in private. Then there are the months of feeling that you’re carrying a weight on your back because you just can’t shake the heartbreak. It might not be crushing anymore, but it is always there. Then, finally, acceptance and hope. So yeah, I know the drill. But I hate this fucking drill. I will go through it again, though, because I have no other choice.

Sleep in heavenly peace, my little love.

A Death, A Birth, A Silent Night — My Messy Beautiful

Three weeks after my mother’s cancer returned, I found out I was pregnant.

While I was growing life inside my body, my mom was dying. Her body was broken down by chemo and radiation. The cancer spread to her intestines. She spent many a night in the hospital for excessive vomiting. Eventually, she couldn’t eat anything at all except jello and popsicles. She drank cans of Ensure. She talked about a time when she’d be able to eat everything again. She talked of new treatments, new diets, new philosophies, but eventually, those came to an end, too.

I believed there was no way my baby would survive. How could she live when my mom was dying? My pregnancy was not happy or magical. It was nine months of gut-wrenching anxiety. Yes, I reveled in the joy of each kick, but I also wondered if each kick would be the last.

On July 22nd, the day before my mom’s birthday, Colette came into this world. She was healthy, beautiful and perfect. She was a little ball of life. She was mine. I could hardly believe it. I talked to my mom that day. This was a rare gift—she was often too tired to talk on the phone anymore. I talked to her the next day, too, on her birthday. Two days in a row! Maybe, I thought, things are looking up.

Three weeks later, she was dead. Because my mom lived in San Diego and I in Philadelphia, she never met my baby. Not once did she get to gaze into Colette’s eyes or kiss her sweet face.

_____

I attended my mom’s memorial service in a sleep-deprived haze. I read a poem by Mary Oliver. I wore a new dress that barely fit my post-partum figure. I plugged my breast pump into a meeting room and pumped while everyone else ate lunch. This obviously isn’t real, I thought. As a matter of fact, nothing is real. Not this baby, not this family around me, not this husband, not this beautiful Vermont sunshine.

I don’t remember crying much. Not then and not when I returned home after the service. There’s no time for grief, I remember thinking. I have to take care of that baby.

And that baby? She cried enough for both of us. She was relentless, wailing all hours, except the ones when she was sleeping, which were perilously few. I developed tricks to make her stop crying. One involved swaddling her, cradling her in my arms and bouncing her on an exercise ball. This worked like a charm until the second I stopped bouncing. Often I would catch myself nodding off on that exercise ball out of pure exhaustion, about to topple us both onto the wood floor.

What hell is this? I thought. Why is this all happening to me at once? How am I supposed to deal with this loss and this miracle without breaking open? It was too much for me, so I shut down. I cared for my baby. I went back to work after maternity leave. I scrunched my hair and put on mascara. My loving mother-in-law took me shopping and I bought striped sweaters and striped shirts and jeans one size up because I thought they would make me feel better about my new life as a mom, without a mom. They didn’t. I got by, but I was going through the motions.

During this period, I talked to my sister a lot. She was in the middle of a rough patch of her own and she often said, “I feel mom around me. I know she’s with me. She’s helping me.”

Other people, even those not so close to my mom would say things like, “I felt Peggy with me the other day.”

But me? Never. I never felt her, not even once. For whatever reason, she didn’t want to make her presence known to me. It took me a long time to realize that the problem was not that she wasn’t there, but that I wasn’t opening myself up to her.

_____

After about six months of this not-feeling business, I went to therapy. That was the beginning of both my grieving and my healing. I was also getting more sleep at that point, which helped tremendously. I began to let myself feel.

Eventually, I saw the timing of Colette’s birth and my mom’s death for what it was: a gift. Yes, it was hard growing a baby while watching my mom die. It was even harder caring for a newborn knowing that I would never see my mom again. In the end, though, the timing saved me. Every year around my mom’s birthday and the anniversary of her death, I will grieve for her, but I will also be reminded that in the midst of this death came life. A little girl was born—a girl who needs me, who loves me and who is the greatest joy I have ever known.

_____

One evening in late December last year, about a year and a half after my mom died, I rocked Colette to sleep like I always do. The last few nights I had been singing Christmas songs to her in honor of the season. Colette, often distracted during bedtime, was staring straight into my eyes. I began to sing Silent Night, a song adored by both my mother and me. Anyone who knew my mom knew that she loved to sing. She also happened to be the worst singer I’ve ever met. She was loud and proud and totally off key. As I sang to my daughter in that dark room on that cold night, I heard my mother signing with us. I heard her out-of-key voice, right in my ear. I felt her arms around us.

I knew with certainty that even though my sweet baby and my sweet mama had never met in this world, in that moment the three of us were, finally, together.

All is calm, all is bright, indeed.

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This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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Love in the Time of Miscarriage

It’s 8:24 a.m. Tim and I sit in our car in the hospital parking garage. Outside, the September sky is a cloudless blue. The temperature is mild. It’s a perfect day in Philadelphia.

The garage is warm and dirty and dark. There are tire marks on every wall. Even still, it’s better than out there, with all its sun and all its blue. It’s better than watching people walk to work like they do every day, as if this day is no different than any other.

There is no spoken agreement to stay in the car, but neither of us makes a move. We’re listening to a country cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You.” I watch the dial on the dash clock. Even though I do not want to get where I’m going, the thought of being late still makes me anxious.

After all, I have places to be. In six minutes, I’m due to check in for a D & C procedure.

Tim sits at one end of the car and I sit at the other, my shoulder and face pressed against the glass. Through the speaker, Carrie Underwood croons.

Tears stream down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace

I move away from the window. Tim puts his arm around me and I lean my head on his shoulder, like we are two kids in love at the movie theater. Except this is not a movie, and if it was, no one would ever want to watch it. I realize I’m crying, I think for the first time since we found out our baby would no longer grow. I can’t see or hear Tim, but I know he’s crying, too. This is it: goodbye. Once we leave the car, there’s no going back.

And right there, in the saddest moment we’ve shared, I feel it—a fluttery brush of sweetness, a tiny coil of peace. We are going, and we don’t like it, but we are going together.

So we go. The song ends and we step out of the car. The humid air rises around us. The elevator sounds its oblivious chime. Tim is holding my hand, and I’m thinking, Oh, how I love you—deeper, wider, still.

The Holiday Spirits

I’ve been a mute blogger lately. There have been some good days and some bad days. As always, my sweet Lettie is bringing me joy times a million.

Overall, I think I’m doing ok.

The holidays, though. Oh, the holidays. On the one hand, I’m incredibly excited for Christmas. Lettie sill has no idea who Santa is, but she’s going to love all the boxes and wrapping paper. I have no doubt that she’ll get caught up in the happy energy of Christmas morning. I can’t wait for that.

On the other hand, these December days are dark. They are literally dark, of course, thanks to the approaching solstice, but they are also dark inside my mind. Despite the beauty of the season, it feels like a season of missing to me. Missing my mom, who I spent every Christmas with for 35 years. Even her last Christmas, a Christmas that included an ER visit because she couldn’t stop vomiting, was still better than the alternative—her not being here at all.

Then there’s Gabriel. I should have been about six months pregnant now. I should have a big pregnant belly. I should have spent this season dreaming of what it was going to be like when our family welcomed a new member in a couple of months. I should have had a newborn this April.

But Alas. I was not meant to spend this Christmas with my mom or with a baby growing safe inside of me. If I were, they would both be here with me. Not meant to be, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t miss them, ache for them, cry for them.

I love my family. I’m grateful for them, always. I look at Lettie in wonder every day. How is she here with me, in this world where life is so fragile? How did I get so lucky? But underneath all that gratitude is a sadness so wide and deep that it takes my breath away.

Even if you’re not a Christian, the story of Jesus is still a beautiful story of enduring love. Christmas honors His birth—a day full of joy, no doubt. But Jesus left this world too soon, long before the world was ready to say goodbye. Many grieved His passing, but the truly faithful believed—and still believe—that He was still with them. They knew that His love was not lost.

I love my mom. I love Gabriel. If I didn’t love them so much, I wouldn’t be so heartbroken. And somewhere in this great big universe, they love me right back. That’s the thought I’m holding onto in the middle of all this sadness: their love is not lost.

True love never is.