Monday, October 31, 2011

Can't Sleep

It seems to be a fairly common phenomenon amongst most BLMs that sleep can be an elusive thing.

When we were leaving the hospital after we lost Georgiana, the medical staff gave me sleeping pills. I took them religiously starting that night, so overwhelmed with grief and fear I didn't even think about it.

Cue to seven months forward, when I decided to get off the Ambien. I had a couple of really bad nights (i.e. less than one hour of sleep), and have had a couple of good ones (i.e., more than six hours of sleep).

Tonight is not so good.

I've been up since 2:30 am and finally just decided to come out here to the den and write. The dogs are snoozing next to me on the couch.

I have thought many times about what C.S. Lewis wrote at the beginning of his book, A Grief Observed. He wrote, "no one told me that grief felt so like fear."

It's odd to think about unless you've gone through it, but it's true. Grief, in its worst moments, really does feel like fear, that horrible panicky fluttering that hits your chest when you realize something has gone horribly wrong. I began to feel it when the doctor told us that fateful night at the hospital that she couldn't find a heartbeat. When I was 38 weeks pregnant. It was impossible. I couldn't even fathom it.

And the fear settled in.

Most days, I pray fervently for God to lift it from my heart and mind. Many days He does. Other days, I feel it much more strongly.

I decided a few days ago to start a Novena. For those of you who are not Catholic, a Novena is a special nine-day prayer in the Catholic church where you ask for a special intention or special graces from God. I never thought much of Novenas until right after Georgiana died, when we were back in our overwhelmingly empty and quiet house and I felt absolutely attacked by evil and despair. These two things, I have come to realize, are very real and tangible, the seen and unseen, right?

In those early early days, I started a Novena. I focused on St. Joseph, the protector of the Holy Family. I prayed for St. Joseph to help protect us, and to protect our entire family. I prayed for more children, I prayed for my child in heaven, I prayed for the two of us left here on earth--her mommy and daddy.

After a few days of the Novena, much of evil feeling that was in our house lifted. In its wake was a wrenching sadness, but some of the fear I felt had left.

Since then, I've been a fan of Novenas.

So I began another one a few days ago.  I have started praying as well to St. Lucy. For some reason, I feel a lot of connection between her and our Georgiana. To me, St. Lucy's story represents the difference between physical sight and spiritual sight.  During her martyrdom, she lost her eyes.  Even with no physical sight, she led others to Jesus because of her faith, because of her true sight.

This battle between what is real and what we see is so intense in us mamas who have lost our babies. It's easy to get sucked into the idea that our children have died, they are buried in the ground. It is so easy to feel despair on those worst of days when the rest of our lives feels like forever.

I have to remind myself, though, that although all those things are real, they are not necessarily true, at least in the grand scheme of things.

Don't worry, I'm not under some mistaken illusion that my daughter did not die. No, that part became very real to me very quickly after everything happened. What I mean is that our faith teaches us to look beyond this earthly life, and death, to look beyond the grave.

I think of the line in Corinthians--"oh death, where is thy victory?"  I never understood the magnitude of those words until I lost my child.  If you let it, death will conquer you. Every dark thought that comes up will seep through your soul and make you feel despair.

This is when I think on St. Lucy, a saint whose name means light, who, despite having no physical sight, saw to the true reality, to what was waiting for all of us who love Him and have faith.

What is true is that my child's body is in the grave, but she is not there. She is with Jesus, in a far better place than I can ever imagine. My mother-in-law said to me early on to think on what a beautiful life my daughter led--from the safety of my womb to the glory of heaven. Not too shabby, when I think about it that way. That, I am thankful for. I miss her here on earth, but I am thankful for that.

Now, safety of the womb? That's a whole different post...

I pray for light in the darkness, that my all too human heart, that misses my daughter terribly every minute of every day, will align more closely with the truth, that my daughter is alive and well with Jesus. I pray that I feel some of that joy, and not so much of the sorrow, and sadness, and yes, fear, that hits me.

I pray that for you all too.

It's now 4:21 a.m. Time to watch some useless TV and hopefully pass out on the couch until I have to get up for work.


  1. Thinking of your SAINT this day on All Saint's Day. Also said an extra prayer to St. Lucy while at Mass with your wonderful intention attached.

    Thank you, Georgiana, for your help with this one.

    Love you! Annie

  2. Easter this year had special meaning this year for me b/c of that promise that there is victory over death like you quoted.
    I ordered a print of a painting called "He is not here". Here's a link if you want to see the picture:
    It's a very simple image, but such a profound reassurance. I'm praying for you.

  3. Katie, this is a beautiful post...the seen and the unseen. Thank you for sharing.

    I've been praying for you. I miss chatting with you!

    Love you, friend!