By Lace Williams Tinajero
You would have just turned 6 years old. I wanted to be your mama. I wanted to give your brother a sibling. I did not want the ‘miscarriage discount’ offered by the local mattress dealer.
I wanted you to be born so that I could give you my love. For I believe love expands, it does not contract, when a second child is born.
Believing this continues to be difficult for me in light of my experience as the second born child. I did not know what love is growing up, only deeply aware of what love is not. I cannot recall one day of my young life when I was not hit, slapped, or attacked. I wonder if I have truly forgiven my mother for the cold dark garage moments until my crying stopped, for forcing me to strip down and bend over the edge of the bathtub so she could hit my naked body with various objects, for pouring hot sauce down my throat.
Compassion for my mother in the fullness of her humanity arises from my reading of Scripture and my relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The discipline of being moved with compassion allows me to remains in relationship with her. When I get away from this—when I resist Jesus’ love on the cross for my sake—it is hell in all its isolating and terrifying forms. In Paul’s words on this inner conflict, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).
As Mother’s Day draws near, I pause from the work around the house and yard and your brother’s homework. I take your little blanket out of my hidden drawer and hold it. The blanket that will never touch your skin. The tiny pastel blanket your cousin Mary knitted for me when I lost you.
Everything was going just fine. Then one bright Sunday morning, the bleeding of the prettiest pink rose flesh started. Contractions followed. This went on for weeks. I kept going to the doctor. He kept checking my blood. He kept reassuring me that things looked ‘normal’ and you were still alive, being knit together and intricately woven in my womb. Despite lab results, medical expertise, and my mind’s desire to carry you to term, to give birth to you, to be vulnerable enough to reveal to you the limits of my traumatized self, my body had a mind of its own.
In the solitary quiet of that one night as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, a black night that has not overtaken the light, I sensed a vast love transcending space and time and universe. As I placed my hands on my belly, unaware that life and death could occupy the same space, I spoke to you.
“Hello baby. It’s your mama. If you are still there, I just want you to know that I love you. I want you to know how much I want you to join our family. But if you cannot survive, if you need to go, I release you to God.”
For a moment I made peace with your death. How simple and ordinary and natural it all seemed. One day, I am growing you, my baby. The next day I am losing you.
I am missing you at Mother’s Day. I miss you every day. With you gone, I live on. I press on, or survive—I’m unsure which—with a question that remains as mysterious for me now as it did when I was that little girl: Why does Jesus desire to heal but not protect?
My cross, this unanswerable question, is the one Jesus calls me to pick up. For Jesus chooses not remove the tormenting thorn from my flesh. But you, my unborn child, and not I, are living fully into Jesus’ reply: “Is it not enough that I love you?”