Kristin Cash shares a story about finding courage after loss. Now you can find the Kindred Mom book, Strong, Brave, and Beautiful: Stories of Hope for Moms in the Weeds, wherever books are sold. Subscribe to the Kindred Mom newsletter and receive a preview of the book today! Photo by Vadim L on Unsplash
It had been four long, lonely, heartbreaking months since Christmas Eve when I heard the words, “He’s gone. No heartbeat.” They resounded in my mind every morning like an alarm clock. With four living children at home, there wasn’t time to focus on grieving.
Instead, I found myself drifting while the world went on without me. At some point, whether prompted by another thoughtless comment about moving on, or my desire to celebrate my four living children—I doubt I’ll ever remember clearly—I made a choice.
No amount of weeping and walking around dejectedly would bring him back. I knew I had to let him go.
The only way for me to let go of part of my heart is to write, so I wrote him a letter.
I miss you even though I didn’t get to hold your tiny fingers. I’m gonna try to live without the grief and let Jesus be the Helper of my soul. Brighter days must come for me, because that’s what you would want for me, and you’re living among The Light of the World. If you could, send down some extra cheer for me. Help me let go of the guilt of moving on; the heartache is too deep to carry any longer. I love you and I’m so thankful you didn’t have to carry the earthly burden of your condition. Where you are, there is no pain, no trisomy, no disorder. You are whole and full of life. I’ll always be your Mama. One day, I’ll see you face to face. Until then, help me live a little brighter and be a good Mama to your siblings here. Give your sister up there a huge hug from me and run to your heart’s content.
Love always, Mama.
I drew a heart below my name and closed the cover of the journal I’d kept for him.
Later that week, we boarded a plane to meet family for a holiday away. I should’ve been carrying my ready-to-be-born son, but all I had was my broken heart and several suitcases. I was an Alaskan mama traveling to the beaches of the Gulf Coast, but I was anything but excited.
For almost two weeks I played in the sand, took a million pictures, even laughed a couple times. But the day before Mother’s Day, I couldn’t. I sat holding my empty belly, pregnant with grief. And while I sat, I slowly drank a glass of wine, staring at the beach from my veranda. It felt anything but blissful.
Mother’s Day was a mixture of walking away from my familiar grief, embracing the unknown, and holding hands with grace. I woke up with this unshakable, nagging feeling. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and it distracted me from every splash my toddler made in the pool and every drop of sunshine on my face.
Lunchtime found me doing the mommy potty dance, trying to hustle and get food to four ravenous, sand-covered kids without bursting. I dropped the last paper plate on the picnic table and ran hastily to the bathroom. And then I knew exactly what had been nagging me all day long. Honestly, I didn’t even want to consider it. I was barely letting go of burying my grief with Abraham. How can I walk into another pregnancy right now?
I quickly shuffled through my makeup bag to find the lone pregnancy test. After multiple losses, I have learned to carry one with me wherever I go. Two minutes later I was staring at a positive test, which stared back at me from the floor in front of the toilet. My hands were shaking. I was completely shocked.
I tried to spend the last two days of our vacation focused on making memories and pouring love into my family. Although I told my husband the news, I did my best not to think about it until we got home, knowing that I might spiral into a fearful place.
The next weeks were filled with countless OB appointments, blood draws, ultrasounds, follow-ups, and appointments with specialists. My needy kiddos couldn’t help feeding off my anxiety and fear over the unknown. But we survived. Together, bravely, and again, we found ourselves pregnant with hope.
It became evident at 33 weeks that this baby would need to come early. I didn’t want to dwell on what might go wrong, I just wanted to hear her cry, smell her head, and rub my lips on her forehead. I needed to rest in that without worrying about the whys and hows that would follow. I made a million freezer meals, decorated for Christmas, wrapped all the presents, and prayed like my life depended on it—because I knew hers did.
Harmony was born at 35.5 weeks. That morning I was prepping for my high-risk Cesarean, surrounded by a team of 20 people, bright lights, cold hands, and the same familiar, nagging feeling I couldn’t quite name. It wasn’t until I was lying down on the bed, watching the first incisions on the camera, that I realized I was delivering her exactly one year to the day after Abraham’s heart stopped beating.
I wept and wept, all the tears I’d held in for 9 months, pregnant with hope. And as Harmony cried her first cry, grief and grace collided, and I couldn’t help but be in complete awe at the God who redeems it all.
Kristin Cash is a mama to 5 (soon to be 6!) kids who share her table, and 2 Heavenly babies. She and her hubby, Jimi, live in Alaska with their hooligans and way too many animals. Her favorite home away from home is Hilton Head, SC. She loves to bake sourdough boule and drink hot coffee—while it’s still hot. She is the founder of Tapestry of Grace Writers Guild and author of Tapestry of Grace: A Manifesto for Women. You can find her online at www.krisccash.com.