Every year since we’ve been married, I’ve saved extra clippings from our tree after cutting it down and have made them into a wreath. Now, I’ve never considered myself to be much of the creative type, so when I originally had the idea.. it was sketchy, to say the least. Four years and wreaths later, while I still wouldn’t label the whole wreath-making process a success, I will say they’ve progressed since the first, wimpy little attempt at bending pine branches into one very sorry circle.
One of the things I’ve loved about making wreaths is the idea of turning nothing into something, of taking excess scraps that would have otherwise been tossed out and turning them into something beautiful, something that brings life to my veins as I’m creating it and that brings joy to my soul as I enjoy it for the remainder of the season.
I almost didn’t make one this year, though. This Christmas season has brought with it an underlying sadness and loss.
You see, in July of this year, we found out that I was pregnant. To say we were excited is an understatement. After trying for over a year and finally seeing that second pink line, we were completely overcome and quite honestly in shock, so much so that I took three more tests after seeing the first positive – just to confirm that the first test was not a dud. (I know, OCD much?) But we had been waiting for what seemed like an eternity, just to get one single line after another. I was literally one appointment away from seeing a fertility specialist, thinking perhaps I was among the few women who experience infertility even after having a child. So when I saw that faint, but very evident second line, it took a lot of confirmation for me to believe it was real.
Six days later, I began to bleed. I immediately panicked and expected the worst. I compulsively searched the internet to try to differentiate between normal early pregnancy spotting and the worst case scenario. Based on what I was reading, I had no reason to start worrying yet, but my gut told me otherwise.
Hours passed and the pain and bleeding worsened immensely. Long story short, it became so severe that it landed me in the emergency room where an ultrasound confirmed the worst.
We lost the baby.
Though we only knew about this little life for 6 days and I was only 6 and a half weeks along when it happened, it was just enough time to build up the following 9 months in my mind and heighten the expectation of what each milestone would look like. I would get to tell my family in person about the pregnancy because I had a visit to California planned just two weeks after finding out, my bump would be minimal, but starting to happily peak through at the start of my very favorite time of year, I’d be starting my third trimester around Christmas, and in March of 2018, we would meet our second baby and fourth member of our little family.
But instead of announcing a pregnancy when I went to California, I announced loss. When Thanksgiving rolled around, there was no bump. And still now, as we approach Christmas, the bump is long gone.
And yet, it still feels so raw. So real. So near. This holiday season has already been so much different than I expected it would be in those 6 short days.
At first I naively consoled myself that the pain would go away with time. I was wrong. Instead, I’ve found that the further along I would have been in this pregnancy, the more sad I find myself. Each month that passes, my bump would have been bigger, reminding me that everything is healthy and that the baby is growing as it’s supposed to be. But that’s not what’s happening.
As Fall started and the holiday season began to roll in, it felt wrong to be excited about all of the typical things that I love so much about this time of year. In fact, it took a lot for me to be excited at all. Compared to how excited I would be if I were almost 6 months pregnant, the current state of my still unpredictable cycles as my body tries to regulate and re-orient itself isn’t all that exciting, to be honest.
But this year, as I play my favorite Christmas playlists, decorate the house, light my (all-time favorite) Balsam Pine candles, drink in the comforting warmth of my favorite beverages… and make my wreath, two words seem to be playing over in my mind again and again:
The loss hurts. It hurts really, really bad. And that is okay; when moments of grief hit, I take them in and I let the tears wash a little bit more of the edge off of the pain. And one ounce of heartache at a time, this grief helps me heal a little bit more.
But in the midst of all of the loss, the good, the beauty, the all-things-new anthem I hear God’s creation singing over and over again are still there, too. I breathe them in and count each one of them as a gift, and just like the tears that come in the difficult moments, these beautiful moments, too, help me heal just a little bit more each time they come. They remind me that though loss is a reality of life, it does not change the fact that the good things are still a reality of life, too.
I believe it is in creating things that we are reminded of hope, and that all things are being made new – even when it doesn’t feel like it. We were made in the image of a Creator; we are therefore creators of various types. I think there’s something to say for why there is so much restoration, satisfaction, and wholeness to be found when we create. It is a core part of who we are and why we were made.
And so, in light of creating something from nothing, beauty from scraps and ashes, newness from waste, a wreath hangs from our front door once again this year. And every time I look at it as I’m coming and going, I remember to press in. I remember to keep creating, both in little ways and in big ways. I remember to keep doing and ushering in the good.
Because that is where the healing is found.