17 October 2013

Remembering the Unknown

Living 12km south of the middle of nowhere, I rely on the magical world of social networking to stay up to date on the cultural happenings of home.  Around here we don't have grocery stores, let alone checkout aisles lined with gossip magazines, and the BBC World page doesn't post too much on social trends.

So, facebook and pinterest keep me savvy.  Or at least in-the-know a day or two late.

This week, my wall has been littered with posts regarding the Day of Remembrance that happened in the US on 15 October.  I had never heard of it before, but it's stuck with me and today it sat face-to-face before me in the therapy gym.

Two days ago was the National Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day in the US.

Over the past 48 hours I have read several blog posts from friends and strangers opening up and sharing about the secret pain of the heart of mothers who never held their own babies.

I have spent silent moments praying for friends who are hundreds of miles across oceans and continents whose hearts still bear the scars of the hole left by the unborn.

And today, I held the hand of a stranger who tried to hide her still-fresh grief as she sat in my gym, her body half paralyzed.

Two months ago, B. went into labor.  It was long and strenuous . . . and her baby was stillborn.

As her heart broke in two, so did her body.  Her right side went limp and she lost her ability to speak.  At some point after her delivery, B. suffered a stroke.

Taking her history as her doting mother and attentive husband hovered nearby, I asked B. how many other children were at home.  She looked up at me with large dark eyes.  Perhaps it was her mild aphasia, or maybe it was her hidden sorrow, but B. paused and swallowed hard.

'I had one baby boy.  But not any more.'

I knew her story, but because of her age, 26, I had assumed this baby had been one of several children.  My Hausa is still pretty bad, and she has expressive aphasia, surely I had misunderstood.  So I asked for clarification, praying I had heard wrong.

'No, I only had one.  I was birthing him when this happened to me.  But he is in the ground.  He never lived.'

Suddenly, like a wave, the words I had been reading for the past few days flushed over me, and I realized that not only was the woman in front of me broken physically, she was silently suffering.  B. lives a world away from the authors of those honest outpourings . . . but she, too, is a mom that will never know her son.

I wondered if she would ever have the opportunity to express the depth of her loss . . . or to grieve her child who never got a name.  I wondered if this death would add a layer of callous to her heart . . . or if it would make her tender to the pain of this life.

As a coworker prayed in Hausa for the healing of her body, I silently prayed in English for the healing of her heart . . . and secretly claimed today as a Day of Remembrance for all the nameless Nigerien babies that have left their mama's with broken hearts.

1 comment:

Linda Thomas said...

I never heard of that day before, either. Now I know and will share your post with others. May God bless B and bring her all the kinds of healing she needs. Bless you, too, for being there.