Every March, the redbud trees blooming side by side in our yard always hearten me. They remind me that spring is here, even if I'm still wearing my coat, and they remind me of the love that led me to plant them a few years ago.
Here at Glimsen, I often mention my daughter, a senior in high school getting ready to go to college in a few months. I have another child too: a little one I lost from miscarriage twenty years ago.
It was because of my baby in heaven that I began to understand that beauty, oddly enough, can be a comfort in grief.
When I was eight weeks' pregnant, my husband and I went to my first appointment with our new obstetrician. We were so excited. A baby! We met the doctor and briefly told her about ourselves. She gave us some information and said that my due date was in March.
Springtime! My favorite time of year.
She began the exam and listened for the heartbeat. And listened and listened, her brow furrowed. A few minutes later, she gently delivered the bad news: she could not find a heart beat.
My little one was already gone.
Over the next few weeks and months, I struggled to understand what had happened to me. I knew the baby was in heaven, but I hadn’t had the chance to say goodbye. There had been so little time to say hello.
When we found out we were pregnant, we had quickly spread the news far and wide to friends and family. Now we had to un-tell them. A few key people made phone calls for us.
Almost two dozen people reached out to us in cards and emails with similar stories of grief. Their words, which sometimes included scripture verses, comforted me. I wasn’t alone. Other people knew and understood. I collected those notes, printed out the emails, and stuck them all inside a new journal that I would put together someday when I was ready.
In one of the books I read about coping with miscarriage, the author wrote that parents who lose a child through miscarriage don’t usually have an opportunity for closure that a memorial service or funeral can provide. So she suggested planting a tree in memory of the baby. That idea touched me to the core, and we decided to do it.
But before we could, I got pregnant again. And thank God, nine months later, that baby was born healthy. We were filled with joy and gratitude, and of course our lives changed instantly. The following year, when we were all sleeping regularly and life had settled into a new normal, we decided to get a tree not just for our first baby but one for our new little girl too.
I didn't know what kind of tree--I just knew I wanted one that would bloom in the spring.
So, working with a landscaper, we planted two pink cherry trees in our front yard. I felt a deep sense of joy and comfort and almost relief, too, to plant and nurture a beautiful thing for such a purpose. We were honoring a life that matters, regardless of how short it was, and that won’t be forgotten. It felt so right. The trees helped to not only assuage my grief over my first baby but celebrate my joy over my second one.
Since then, I’ve lived in two other houses and at each one I’ve planted two trees for my babies. Along with those first pink cherry trees, the second pair were pink dogwoods. All four bloomed early in the season, their beautiful colors and delicate blooms reminding me that winter was over and spring was arriving.
At our current house, we planted two redbud trees, which also bloom early and, despite the name, have light purple blooms. This time, we added two more memorial trees: a third redbud for my father and a white dogwood for my mother-in-law.
All of these trees serve as a tangible reminder of how precious life is and what a gift our loved ones are. Their beauty has brought me comfort. They've given me a way to grieve the loss of a precious life here on earth and a way to celebrate life that goes on in heaven. There’s a verse in the Bible where God says that he brings beauty from ashes (Isaiah 63:1-3). He has done that over and over in my life, and these trees, his trees, remind me of that every time they bloom.
Has beauty ever been a comfort to you in grief? Do you have a similar story? If so, I'd love to hear it. Leave me a comment here or on Facebook or via email.
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