Empty Womb, Empty Arms

We don’t like to talk about grief very much. We aren’t good at it. We avoid bringing up the loved one and the events around their death, not realizing that ignoring it hurts more than talking about it. We quote platitudes that are often false and think to ourselves that a little more faith or prayer, or less sin, may have kept the person alive. We are bad at death. We are bad at loss. We are bad at grief.

So we keep our griefs private. We don’t advertise our mental illness, or our loved one’s debilitating disease, or our stifling financial burden. We smile and try to act normal. Or we isolate ourselves and blame others for not having an intuitive knowledge of what’s going on. Loneliness makes our grief heavier and the spiral of breaking continues.

There are socially acceptable griefs, that are more easily shared and understood. A parent dying. A lost job. A divorce. Some griefs, though, are harder to talk about, either because they involve more intimate disclosure, or because they open you up to more unhelpful or hurtful comments. Not that any situation is safe from such comments, but some seem to be more of a magnet for ignorant feedback. Man, so many rabbit trails to explore later.

Anyway, this is an update on a more hidden grief. Not secret, most of our loved ones, maybe all of them, know. Hidden in the sense of intimate. Easy to ignore until it breaks out for some reason and makes itself felt again. Let’s talk about infertility and miscarriage.

I never thought about the possibility of infertility affecting me. I have six siblings, five living. None of my aunts or uncles or grandparents had difficulty conceiving, or at least they all had children. There isn’t a history of it in Fred’s family either. And yet it took us a year, and then almost three years, to conceive. If you haven’t been here, it is heart wrenching. Each period is like a neon sign pointing out the obvious. Still no children. People ask what you are waiting for, assuming that this simple task (getting pregnant) is in your total control. In case you are under that delusion, it isn’t. God opens and closes the womb. After our first miscarriage (which I’ll come back to), we waited over a year before we started the doctor appointments. It’s not like there weren’t life complications that could have been preventing pregnancy. Surely it was just physical and emotional stress getting in the way. But each month the blood came, so we finally started testing.

A year later every test was done and every treatment tried, short of IUI or IVF. Nothing wrong. But still no baby. Okay, so it’s not that we should be changing something, it is purely in God’s hands. Which is good to know, that we are healthy. Healthy, barren. Both. Hoping and longing. Both. Grieving the empty womb. Empty arms.
(This went long so I will make miscarriage it’s own post).

I wrote this poem last year on a rough night. This seemed like an appropriate place for it.

The blood comes, my heart drops,
The answer’s no again.
Am I missing something You want or
is this part of Your plan-
A piece to some larger puzzle that I
do not understand?

I grow weary of questions,
“So how many, one or two?”
“I guess you don’t want babies”
Or “You’re waiting, good for you.”
Do I tell them of my heartbreak,
One who early looked on You?

We’ve done all of the right things,
We’re healthy, loving, kind.
Advice still comes, some welcome,
Some stings from hearts left blind,
thoughtless in its flippancy, blame
casually assigned.

This barrenness deserves the name,
for empty womb and arms
display the blessing that’s withheld
like rainless, dusty farms.
How can we fill the earth for You
if You withhold such charms?

It isn’t that I’m faithless
or without peace in this,
but I do still hurt and struggle
with the pieces that I miss.
With children born unwanted,
in homes touched by Satan’s kiss.

Why should babes be slaughtered?
Why should children be abused?
Why are infants born addicted
or on the world by parents loosed?
Why are those wombs open?
Is this by You produced?

copyright Jonelle Liddell 2016

A Resurrection Day Poem

(written last Easter, 3/20/2016)

Do you feel the wonder?

How do you hold it in? 

If you’ve really felt it, 

That rush, release from sin 

Exhilarating freedom, 

New hope that grace may win. 
Does your heart leap within you, 

Almost bursting from your breast? 

Is this the taste of freedom 

Promised to those without rest, 

To the hopeless, wand’ring strangers 

With no pillows, den or nest? 
This is home, here’s peace at last, 

Rejoice! Let it be known!

Proclaim your hope, let others hear, 

Go sow the seed you’ve grown. 

Such news was made for sharing, 

You can’t celebrate alone! 
Copyright Jonelle Liddell, 2016

Luke 17

Stained with sin so deep I stink,
Stink from my very core.
Indeed, my core’s the problem,
There’s a rotting, festered sore.

The world sees superficial wrong,
It’s depth beyond their ken.
I know the evil well because
My heart has been it’s den.

The monster lives within me,
Yes, our two hearts beat as one.
It leaves me as the outcast,
Longing for pain to be done.

I see the joyful people,
I long to join them there,
But no one wants my illness.
Touch me, they would not dare.

Then One comes by and hope springs.
“Jesus, heal me” peals the cry.
Was that my voice, my pleading?
So desperate not to die?

“Go, show the priest,” He told me.
I take two steps, then smell.
No rot, no stench, just sweetness,
Life, I feel it, my heart’s well!

Bowed down in tears, on purpose?
No, what other choice was there?
Would you not do the same
If I could this cleanness share?

Rejoice! I live! And you can too!
This life is truly real!
Farewell, I go my way in peace,
Rejoicing in my weal.

© 2017 Jonelle Liddell

To Write a Book

What would it take to write a book?
What would I write about –
A story full of bygone times
Or tales of faith and doubt?

Would others want to read by thoughts
And glimpse my inner heart?
Would my words be a challenge or
A balm giv’n thru my art?

Are my words worth another’s time,
Encouraging to read?
“Of many books there is no end” –
For many, there’s no need.

Copyright Jonelle Liddell 2015

Winter Light

The sun hangs lower in the sky,
When it at all is seen.
Soon, too soon, night comes upon us,
The world is white and clean.

This is winter, time of darkness,
Now we cherish light.
Each candle brings a revelation,
Opening our sight.

I may not see the darkness as
I wander thru the cold,
But when a flame is kindled I’m
Freed from the unfelt hold.

It only takes a small flame to
Illuminate the night
And its truth reveals my secrets,
Those hid from public sight.

We are lights in life’s darkness,
On other’s lives we shine,
But only when our life is free,
The Spirit in us thrives.

Is my light shining bright or is
The Spirit quenched in me?
A thing to ponder sometimes if
God’s servant I would be.

Copyright Jonelle Liddell 2015

Psalm 127:2

The road we walk is weary
    Our ways and days trend long.
We drag our feet and linger,
    Listening for a song.

Is there rest on this earth
    Or is endless toil our fate?
Will our hearts find solace
    Ere the grave alters our state?

The adage seems quite hopeless,
    “For the weary, there’s no rest”
So where does Sabbath promise fit
    If life’s an anxious jest?

He said His yoke is easy
    And the burden giv’n is light.
He said that Sabbath rest remains
    When day replaces night.

How do we know it’s coming?
    Listen, hear the lullaby
“Lay your weary head upon my breast,
    Be still here as you lie.”

“Here you find your balance,
    Here are filled from deep to deep.
He gives his children good gifts
    And to His beloved, sleep.”

Copyright Jonelle Liddell 2015.

Poems and a Brief Update

Fodge Family Picture

It has been a long time since I have posted, mostly because opening myself enough to write hurts too much.  It hurts a lot, actually.  Since my last update in August, my Mom improved.  The roller coaster continued, as we thought she had maybe 6 months to live.  It turns she had until November.  The 22nd, to be exact.  I was there for her last two weeks, and for the week after.  It was agonizing and a blessing at the same time.  A blessing to be with so many dear ones, to be with her, for those last precious days.  But agonizing to watch my beautiful, wonderful mother waste away and die.  Maybe someday I will write more of the memories that haunt me.  But right now I struggle to keep them buried.  Because letting them out rips my heart up.  So we try to focus on the happy memories.  Because the specter of cancer changed our lives.  When our family was whole.

IMG_6174

Here are a couple of poems, the only real writing I have been able to manage in months.  The first I wrote in October, when we knew that Mom’s Homecoming was approaching soon.  The second I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

Mommy’s Going Home

November 6, 2013

I started this on October 26 and finished it today.

My mommy’s going home soon,
Though we pray for her to stay.
I beg God o’er and over
But have yet to see the way
To her staying.

Our hearts feel ever broken
Yet we haven’t said goodby.
It’s the dread of coming sorrow
That, though bury it we try,
Remains constant.

As the fog obscures the daylight,
So this grief coats any joy
With a ling’ring sense of nightmare
That no laughter can alloy
Or make better.

“This too shall pass,” my mind says
But my heart defies such thought.
Still the Comforter is present
And ’tis good what God hath wrought
And for our good.

 

Heart Holes

May 1, 2014

Look down and see Thy child in tears,
From grief and pain, some doubts and fears,
As somewhere near the devil jeers
And time plods dully on.
 
Thou sorrowed also long ago
With depth of grief that I can’t know,
As Thy Son’s head was beaten low
By vessels of Thy wrath.
 
Did Thy heart scream in tune with mine
When heart’s beat ceased with life’s decline
In that one who, by Love’s design,
Was dear beyond belief?
 
The hole there in my heart remains,
Surprising me with unsought gains
Of territory or of chains
That still bind me in anguish.
 
Yet Thou gave hope to we who weep,
For even those who fell asleep
Shall rise one day, for Thou shall reap
All souls on that great day.
 
They’ll rise again, for He rose first
And conquered death for we, the cursed,
As Sun again touched those whose thirst
For joy seemed lost in night.
 
Yes, Hope burst forth and entered in,
From there to reach for us, His kin,
By Love and Blood brought well within
That rest beyond the veil.
 
Such gifts of good Thou gives to me,
If only I’ll wait patiently,
For pain will pass and Thee still be
There gently holding all.