I dreaded new group meetings. You’re sitting at a table. Everyone takes turns introducing themselves. The basic questions: Name, age, what you do, how many years have you been married and how many children do you have? But the last question would give me so much anxiety. I just wanted my turn to be skipped. Introductions are supposed to be surface level, get to know one another, not oh by the way, my 10 month old daughter passed away. It’s a real buzz killer as everyone is smiling and talking as they get to know one another.
It would seem easier to say I just have three children and leave the depressing story of losing a child to a later, deeper conversation. But I have four children. And that is part of me and has shaped me more than the years I’ve been married or what I do for a job. Not to mention the mom guilt. Yes I might be at peace with Evy living in heaven, but it doesn’t mean that I have huge mom guilt if I don’t include her in the family. What parent doesn’t love to brag on their children. Evy was the biggest blessing in our lives. How can I possibly leave her out? The thought of not mentioning her leaves me short of breath, creates a huge hollow feeling in my chest and more anxiety than the introduction. It’s a feeling hard to explain unless you’ve lost a child. I also don’t want Evy to think I forgot her. It brings me to sobbing tears as I write this. I can’t explain the heartbreak I would feel as her mother if she thought I have forgotten her. I don’t need the world to know who she was or make her famous, but she is not forgotten. I can’t even go into more depth than that. There are no words, just horrible feelings.
As everyone goes around the circle introducing themselves, I am going over my intro in my head of how should I word this. Most times I would cry. If I was lucky enough to have my friend Anola with me, she would shed tears before I started because she knew how I felt. Her tears allowed me to just say it without crying. That’s a good friend.
I also worried that people would think I mention her for attention or sympathy or just so I had a story to tell. Refer back to mom guilt. I worried and still worry that my friends, who know my story already, will secretly roll their eyes when it’s my turn. Oh great, it’s Beth’s turn. She’s going to bring up her dead daughter again. I don’t know if that is a lie I tell myself or if it is partly true. But this is just a small glimpse as to what all goes through my head when the question comes to me, “How many children do you have?”
So yes, you may only see my three children, but I carry four in my heart. I might only have three mouths to feed and only three to get dressed in the morning. But the absence of the fourth mouth and the absence of the 10 extra toes is sometimes bigger than actually taking care of four.
But God is good. He answers my prayers and knows my fears. The birth of Elijah has made the last 3 months a lot easier in introductions. I don’t sheepishly say I have 3 children. I boldly say I have 4 children. Others might now judge me that I talk about all 4 with a smile on my face. But when God is that good and has blessed us in so many ways, how can I not smile when getting to share my story? Yes we had a daughter pass away, but God in his infamous glory gave us a son who was born 3 years later on our daughters birthday. Does Elijah replace Evy? Absolutely not! But God gave us a gift that is the light spot in the dark story. I smile because God continues to bless us and provide for us. I was at peace with Evy’s passing before Elijah, but God took away a fear I constantly was facing. So go ahead and ask me how many children I have because it gives me an opportunity to tell you how great my God is.