Dear Atticus, on loss

fall foliage

Dear Atticus,

I said it had been a hard week, and I am sure that you know that somehow or another. I am not sure how it works, exactly, whether you have heard me talking to your dad or you can just sense my emotions. It is still strange to think of you always being with me like that. It is strange, too, to think that soon you won’t be with me, that you will be a separate person and we will start learning who you are and what you are like. Even though I am pretty much ready for you to make your appearance, I recognize that when you do so, it will be a sort of loss. This time will be over, and things will be different. And even though it will be a good thing to have you here with us, change can also be scary and difficult.

I don’t think I will be the kind of mother who gets sentimental over the first steps and the first haircut and the first day of school. But I recognize that those are losses, too, just as much as they are milestones. Each new milestone represents the end of a certain stage of life, and every choice we make causes us to lose the possibility of something else. Though we should not dwell on things that might have been, it is better to grieve them appropriately than to pretend that they did not matter. I think that is why we have been given 40 weeks to prepare for your arrival: we are excited about you coming, but we also have to accept that our way of living is going to change.

You will lose a lot of things in life, Atticus. Not just toys and sweatshirts, though I am sure you will lose your fair share of those. Your friends will move away, or you will grow apart. People and pets will die. You will learn things that make you feel stupid and naive. You will lose sleep and peace. You will even lose hope sometimes. Though I wish I could protect you from these things, I also know that they are part of life. And I believe (haltingly, failingly) that each of these losses makes space for something to grow.

Some people call that redemption. I believe in redemption, in difficult things being turned into beautiful, life-giving things. But I think that what fills that empty space is nothing more or less than simply grace. We want you to know that grace, let it teach and change you in the midst of pain and frustration and, yes, loss. When opportunities pass you by, when difficult decisions are made, when friends and family slip away, we want you to be able to trust in that grace that, as Bono said, makes goodness out of ugly things. It is there in the beautiful things, too, Atticus, making them more beautiful and giving us the courage to let them in to our lives. That’s the grace that I am experiencing now, as we wait these last six weeks for you to arrive.


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