I have no intention of interrupting the greatest of all time Harry Potter banquet that is happening right now. I know you are currently dancing in the arms of CS and Whitney Houston. I know you are swimming deep into the greatest ocean, snorkel free, letting each wave of grace knock you over and roll you giddily back to shore. I know that eternal goodness and glory and joy and praise are the only words on your tongue. Heaven is so much sweeter than we can imagine. I long for the day we are all there, together, with you, with Him.
Instead we ache for the wholeness and light that you are living and breathing right now.
Come, Lord Jesus. Bring us home.
Until then, we wait. We wait and try to pass the time making memories and making love and making babies and growing homes that would make you proud. We will try to become more like the kind of women who get to dance in Heaven forever.
But if I may be so bold, I wanted to write and introduce you to your sweet grandbaby. I’m so grateful that even a tiny part of you gets to live on and reenter our lives.
At just 12 weeks your Julia is more than ¼ of the way done with her pregnancy. Baby is the size of a lime and over two inches long. Julia’s body has responded properly to someone taking up space in her uterus, making her sick and dizzy and cranky and hungry and vomity, but you’d be so proud. In every way, Julia has been a friggin champ. Your Julia is moving in a million directions, in 20 places at once, because of course, (I know, you’re rolling your eyes…) she always is. She is wrapping up her master’s degree and getting her teacher licensure and working full time and still finding time to be a wife, a friend, a sister, and a grieving daughter. You and I would have definitely quit by now. But she just keeps going. She’s working really really hard to give your grandbaby an awesome life. What a lucky child.
We are already completely infatuated with him. After Julia told me she was expecting, I asked if I could eat her placenta. You and Julia are the only two people on the planet that would say yes, definitely, and not think that was a strange thing to say. Joking aside (that is a joke guys…) I love him, I want to consume him, I want him to, in the least selfish way possible, be just as big of a part in my life as he is in Julia’s. I love him. I’ll always love him.
So much beauty and so much pain because Megen, you should be here loving him too. You should be walking down Pearl Street and you should be alive to say yes, I want to eat the placenta too. I love him more than my own life. I would do anything, anything, for my grandbaby.
If you were here you would have already wrapped your arms around Julia’s tummy and kissed our angel. You would have already bought too many clothes. We’d laugh because you’d probably have a hunch if it was a boy or girl and you would be 100% right, or wrong, which would be funny too. You would have probably spent too much money on all of the unnecessary baby goods. You would have begged your Julia to let you go to her doctor appointment. And if she and Al let you, you would have been so concerned when they couldn’t quite find the heartbeat, even though it was totally normal and the doctor was not worried. You would have gone home and done your own google research and then emailed me. Did you hear the heartbeat at 11 weeks Shawna? I’m worried. Have a good day. Call me, I’m worried. Love, Megen.
You would have started reading all the great books- What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Labor and Breathing Techniques, The Grandmas Guide to Everything Baby, etc. You would have called Julia over and over, surprised by all of the information you never knew. She would have reminded you about the three perfect babies you had, 100% naturally. You might have whipped out some of the old birthing videos and watched them with Julia. You probably would have gotten creeped out by your own vagina, front and center, and turned it off. Instead, you would have taken Julia’s hand and headed out for bottomless Chai somewhere, swapping stories about love and marriage and sex while pregnant. No topic was ever off limits, huh?
You would have gotten out some old maternity jeans you had stuck in the back of a closet. And Julia would have laughed so hard because they would fit you like a glove now and you would appreciate the extra elastic so you would keep them on and start wearing them around the house. I can see it now: Both of you rocking maternity pants, dancing to Taylor, shaking your hair, and singing at the top of your lungs into your broomsticks. Solidarity in every way.
You would also be properly preparing space in your heart and your home. You’d have painted a nursery in Julia’s old room. Blue, green, pink, and yellow. Changing your mind daily, never able to stick with a theme. The whole thing would be cowboy/butterfly/fairytale/dinosaur ish. But baby would love it. You’d get out the old pack n’ play you kept and you would’ve washed it and scrubbed it and sewed new sheets. Then you would’ve been bored and bought a new one. There would be treasure chests filled with toys and games. Your Pinterest would be littered with everything baby. Feeding schedules, sleeping schedules, newborn photography, Christmas crafts for baby feet, all the things. Your rooms would be stuffed with high chairs and bassinets and empty picture frames waiting to be filled.
And in your heart, you would be pushing everything else out to make room for your new love. You would be praying, constantly, on your knees night and day, begging God for baby’s safety and provision. Obviously, you would be calling Julia for constant updates. How many weeks and days? I forgot. What’s the size again? I want to write it down. How do you feel? Sick again? Eat some ginger, I always ate ginger. No wait, I hated ginger, your dad was the one eating ginger. Ginger made me throw up.
Not having you there on the day this baby enters the world is too much to imagine. It is not something Julia should have to live through.
I’m not sure any of us are entirely convinced you won’t show up at the last minute. You, running into the hospital room, pulling off your hat and brushing off your coat saying, Sorry guys, remember that blizzard in Nederland that hit last June? It took so long to shovel out. I hate the snow. Sorry I’m late. We would all clap our hands and laugh. Ah, no wonder! Now tt makes perfect sense why you haven’t been around the last year and a half. This is great! So glad you could make it Megen.
But the painful truth that I cannot comprehend is the fact that you will not be rushing in at the last minute. And you will not be there to convince Julia that having babies naturally isn’t so bad and then encouraging an epidural at the first sign of pain in her eyes. You won’t be there to hold a leg up for your daughter and to shout, keep pushing, I can see the hair! You won’t be there to cuddle in her hospital bed and hold the baby while Julia naps. You won’t sit on the couch while Julia nurses at 3 am and sleepily watch old reruns of Gilmore Girls. You won’t be knitting onesies and hats and a new stocking for baby this Christmas. You won’t be there.
It’s not fair and it’s not okay and it’s enough to knock the wind out of a person. You should be there.
It hurts to talk about it and I will never begin to pretend that I understand Julia’s pain. So much pain. I can stand next to her and hold a leg in your place, I can rock the baby when Julia needs her nap, I can ooohh and ahhh over every picture, but it is not enough. I can watch the Gilmore Girl reruns and discuss pregnant sex and bring her bottomless Chai, but I am a very distant second to Julia’s heart beat and first pick, her mama. I am incredibly unworthy to fill your shoes. It’s not possible.
But this child, this love warrior, this angel baby, is coming. Ready or not. He’s got your eyes and ears and heart. She’s got your soul and hair and running abilities. Queen/Lover/Magi/Warrior. We will write the words on every article of baby’s clothing. This baby is born from a legacy of courage and sacrifice. This baby is born from a long line of relentless lovers and dreamers. This baby is born into a new world, one you, Megen, will never see.
This is an impossible fact. Too heavy to carry. Too hard to speak.
And somehow, day by day, year by year, Julia will survive. By God’s grace and blessing, this family will overcome the impossible reality of living without you, Grandma Megen. Julia will mother without her mother and she will do so with exceptional, heavenly, God-given, grace.
When baby comes into the world, she will be surrounded by true love, loyal friends, and the world’s newest and greatest mama. This baby will be loved up and down and every ounce of her will be consumed with complete adoration and affection.
Someday Julia will finish her book about you. She will wrap it up and give it to her babies for Christmas. If they are the only people on the planet that read it, that will be enough. They will witness the ache and pain in their mother’s voice and they will remember who you are and how you formed her and how you continue to shape every part of their family.
He will grow up a dog-loving, beach-loving, Spanish-speaking, Love Warrior.
She will stay up late at night while Julia brushes her hair and tells stories about the day her grandmother died.
He will recite every Grandma Megen story he knows to his girlfriend. He will laugh as he tells each one, like he was right there when it happened.
She will sing her Grandma Megen’s favorite songs. Blackbird. The Scientist. After the Storm. She will play them at her wedding and slow dance/cry with her mama.
And they will stay up past their bedtime and listen to the story about the day they were born. Julia will tell them how you were there.
You were there. You were present in the doctor’s hands and wisdom and decision making. You were present in the clamor and chaos and crushing pain that is birth. You were there in Julia’s tears and laughter as her baby was pulled out from her body and into this terrifying and beautiful world. You were there in the joy and celebration of a strong healthy baby. You were there in the peace of baby’s eyes as she nursed for the first time.
Julia will understand your love at that moment more than ever. And she will understand that this love is all part of a great and divine dance, a continuing, flowing, flowering, love that has no beginning and no end. Your love did not stop when you died. It continues moving through Julia and into this new beating heart.
It will never be okay. The hurt will never go away. But the baby that Jesus is sending will start to heal a broken heart that is aching. Julia will have a new person to watch Gilmore Girls with. She will have a new friend to take to Chai. She will have a new little love to knit socks and hats and stockings for. She will have new pictures framed and hung on the walls of her home. The divine dance will continue.
Now, back to your banquet, sweet Megen. Back to the meal and the party and the dance that never ends. Back to being a bride, unblemished, forgiven, perfect. Back to being a child, twirling and laughing and swinging across mountains with your True Love. We can’t wait to join you.
Always and forever,
P.S If it’s not too much trouble, can you save us a couple seats at your banquet table? I’d like to sit somewhere between Julia and Harry Potter, if you don’t mind.