When the Memory of Grief Lingers

The other day I was trying to remember something that happened a few months ago and the details all seemed a bit fuzzy to me. I have entire blocks of time where I have vague memories of the outline of what happened. I don’t typically struggle with remembering the details of my life (it’s a curse and a blessing), but as I get older there are only so many memories my brain can hold.

Grief, though, lingers in my memory whether I like it or not.

August is a weird month for me. There are many memories of August floating in my brain—memories of sorrow and memories of joy, memories of hope, mixed with memories of fear.

I have strong memories of a hot summer night filled with equally hot tears and confused cries of sorrow. We lost our first baby that August. Daniel went back to classes that August. Life moved on, even as our hearts struggled to, that August. August was a hard month that year. I remember the mindless shows on television that August. I remember the movies we watched to pass the time, to swallow the grief, and to numb the pain that August. I remember the food people brought us, the conversations I had with friends who told me “it will get easier. This will change you, but it will get easier.” I remember that August like it was yesterday.

But I also remember another August. This one contained more joy, more hope, but an equal dose of anxiety. On August 1, exactly two years later I finally saw the longed for “pregnant” on a pregnancy test. And at the end of that same month, as I anxiously sat in an ultrasound room, I heard “and here’s the second heartbeat.” I remember the surprise and the joy. I remember the shock and the tears. I remember the shared blessing that all who had prayed for us those two years of struggle, surgery, doctor’s visits, medicine, and all manner of emotions, could finally rejoice together that God had not only given us one, but two precious babies.

Grief and joy stay with you, sometimes in the very same block of memories, sometimes in the very same month.

This August feels rather ordinary compared to those Augusts. But I haven’t forgotten the feelings. I haven’t forgotten the tears. I haven’t forgotten the cries of sorrow and the cries of happiness that God gave us in those years. I may have forgotten fuzzy details along the way, but I haven’t forgotten life-altering memories. I haven’t forgotten what it felt like to lose a baby for the first time, or the second. And I haven’t forgotten what it felt like to hold two babies hooked up to wires, too small to even breathe on their own. I haven’t forgotten what it felt like to hold a nearly nine pound baby either, his full head of dark hair in the early morning hours after a long and difficult delivery.

I have memories, some I’d rather forget and some I want to carry with me forever. Both have shaped me. The sad memories of holding each other after losing our babies, and the happy memories of holding each other as we have full arms, both have shaped us and made us love the Savior more.

This seemingly ordinary August I remember. I remember the sadness that launched us into this parenting journey, and the joy that keeps us going. And I’m thankful my brain held on to all these memories, even if they still break my heart sometimes.