Testimony is one of those "Sunday School" words that used to make me squirm a little bit...still does, if I am completely honest. The definition of testimony that I am most familiar with is the one that I am least comfortable with, that is a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. The very thought of getting up in front of a bunch of people and talking about God makes me feel all jumpy inside. I mean, blaring my beliefs all over the world wide web, sure, but in person...not so much.
But I recently discovered that I was in need of reminding of my own testimony, a different kind of testimony, the one that is defined as evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something or, in my case, two somethings, to help me through some late night worrying sessions. I thought maybe this testimony was worth writing down so that those two somethings might read them one day.
Growing up, I loved to visit my grandparent's farm and play with the toys they kept for all of the grandkids (because everybody knows other people's toys are the best toys). My happy place is and has always been the ocean, so I would spend hours building boats out of legos so all of the mismatched tiny dolls could travel the seas. The problem was, once I built the boats I would start to worry that my little charges would fall off into the water. So then I would build walls. Then I would build windows into the walls. Then I would be afraid the windows were too big so I would build walls in front of the windows. Eventually my lego friends would have been better off staying on dry land.
Little did I know that this was actually just training for what it would be like to be a mother. You want your children to be able to experience great things...but nobody tells you how terrifying that will be.
So, when I lie awake at night and think of all of the ways the world is a scary place, I need to know that there is Someone in Charge. I need to KNOW there is a God. Back to my testimony.
I gave birth to Rip on November 11th. 11/11. I picked his birthday. I picked that day because 11/11 has always, from childhood, been a lucky number for me. Rip died and everything I ever knew about God and the world was forever changed.
But somehow, I knew the only way I had any hope of survival was to keep talking to the God I wasn't sure I knew anymore. And the numbers 11/11 kept popping up. The first blogpost I wrote after Rip's death was at 11:11...and I can assure I did not have the presence of mind at that point to know what time it was.
What I wanted more that anything else in the world was a baby in my arms. In my grief addled brain, I looked months ahead into my calendar and decided I would be pregnant on 4/21/11- the 111th day of the year.
In those months I learned that a baby after loss was called a rainbow baby. Like the number 11/11, rainbows are something I've always looked for and considered to be lucky. Parke and I went on a trip not long after Rip died and I prayed to see rainbows- we saw five.
On April 20th, 2011, I was 1.5 weeks past the time I should have received a positive pregnancy test. I was beyond broken. It was a stormy day and I fell to my knees and prayed in desperation. It was not a prayer like I've prayed before or since. It was a prayer that said I did not know if I was brave enough to take one more breath unless I knew that there was hope in the world. It was a prayer that asked specifically for a rainbow. It was a prayer that brought a peace like I have never felt when I looked out the window and saw the colors in the sky.
The next morning, on 4/21/11, I got two lines. I was pregnant. On the 111th day of the year.
I saw more rainbows during my pregnancy with Gracie that I've seen before or since.
I gave birth to Gracie on December 22, 2011. One year, one month, and eleven days after her older brother was born.
Gracie healed a huge, gaping hole in our hearts. There was another hole, a hole just for Rip that would never be filled and that we would never try to fill...and then there was a hole that was the hole of a boy mama with no baby boy in her arms.
So I prayed again, I prayed and prayed for that baby boy.
I read a bible verse, I don't even know which one, and it said there would be a boy, and I believed.
Parke and I went back to that magical place and there was just one rainbow this time, and again long after there should have been two lines on a stick another baby was on his way.
Sam filled my boy mama arms.
This is my testimony. This does not explain why some people can't have babies or some prayers aren't answered. This does not explain cancer or unspeakable tragedies. This does not explain why Rip died. This is evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something. And I guess this is also a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience if we want to get all Sunday School about it.
The thing is, the oceans are still just as beautiful as they were when I was a kid...and just like then, no matter how high I build those walls, I can't always keep my little people safe. So, sometimes I need a reminder, two little reminders, that its not always up to me.