We plan for those moments with incessant regularity.
And the hard truth about this is that those stories built upon the promises pregnant within us will probably never materialise — certainly not in the time and the way we imagine them coming to fruition.
Largely, they’re myths.
But some moments we don’t plan for do come.
I recall a few of these moments in one twenty-four-hour period when our son was stillborn.
The first of these moments lasted about two hours, and truly the emotional experience of wondering whether I had what it took was poignant in and of itself. The moment Nathanael was declared as passed away, by the nurse, then later the doctor. Their reactions. Attempting to console an inconsolable wife. Sitting there as minute-by-minute she went downhill spiking a fever. Being told there would need to be an emergency delivery. Feeling angry that our son hadn’t been monitored; that we hadn’t been granted a C-section in the first place. Wanting to protect one of the midwives who seemed to be really struggling with what had happened. Waiting there in the room before we were wheeled into theatre tracing the bodily outline of our son on my wife’s abdomen. Wondering at this point whether we had what it would take to encounter our deceased son. The music of Bethel’s ‘It Is Well’ playing as he was delivered. Experiencing with shock the elements of his delivery. Not being ready for his facial expression. Not fainting. Being present there with him and everyone else. Bathing him. Weighing him. Then later, having those bare and raw moments when all was quiet, when distractions could no longer rescue us from the full emotional response that needed to be let out. The commencement of that grief. Having to insist a social worker come back at a more appropriate time. Having to stand our ground when others should have known better.
A day full of moments like this; a week of them. And months beforehand and months afterward. And yet we survived.
Life is a tricky juxtaposition of moments we think will occur at some point, but that never do with the moments of paroxysm that leave us confounded, unable to find sense for what has happened.
Finding poise in the moments I’ve described above was a matter of acknowledging how bizarre the reality really was; with a faith that is willing to stay in the moment; with a trust that shows up.
We always wonder if we have what it takes in an overwhelming moment. And in such a moment we prove we can simply in the act of keeping on going. We don’t stop. We don’t reflect amid the pressure to perform. We do that later. We go through the motions the best we possibly can, and God gets us through them.
There is always plenty of opportunity for reflection.