Kristin finds it hard to describe herself these days. She is a writer by trade and a mourner at heart. After losing four babies to miscarriage and her sweet son Thomas to a placental abruption during delivery in March 2005, she spends much of her time trying to make sense of her childless world and peacefully dwell within it.
She also bakes, crochets and gardens with ferocity. Because, she says, she is happiest when she’s creating something - be it with seeds, yarn, flour or words.
She lives a quiet, determined life with her husband and their 12-year old cat just outside of Toronto, Ontario.
When I lay on the operating table muttering frantic prayers into an oxygen mask while they bagged my son and tried to stop the bleeding that threatened to take me too, my relationship with the God I’d always known and taken comfort in cracked, crumbled and eventually simply fell away.
He had deserted me. I begged for my son’s life and buried him 8 days later while God and his whole company of angels sat idly by watching.
God was a big deal in my house when I was a child. One of my earliest memories, hazy and sweet, is of being cradled in my Mother’s arms in the glow of the early morning sun while she softly sang “Jesus Loves Me” and rocked me back to sleep.
Although only one side of my family is Catholic, both sides were devout, involved in their respective churches - specifically in the choirs - going back generations. And I happily followed in their footsteps, singing and worshiping and believing. Not always following every single rule (and often questioning those that I did), but doing my best just the same.
And then, in an instant, the foundation that I thought was as strong as bedrock rumbled, shifted and knocked me off my feet.
After all I’d done all my life to try to live up to the sometimes impossible standards he’d set, God vanished when I needed him most. He denied me my miracle when, to my grief stricken mind, it seemed that he freely doled them out to others. To others who maybe hadn’t tried as hard as I had to follow the path he demanded.
It wasn’t necessarily that I thought I deserve miracles more than someone else – I’m flawed in a million different ways - I just thought I deserved them too.
I’m still very much living in the aftermath of this perceived betrayal. I’m a tentative believer now. Wary and cautious. My church is made of eggshells and glass, and I live with the feeling that the slightest tremor could shatter it.
I’m awed by others who were able to run towards their gods and churches and traditions when I ran from mine. And I wonder what it is that gives them the confidence and faith that I lack.
Sometimes, in dark moments, I have even wondered if this is why I didn’t get my miracle.
Immediately after Thomas died, while I was still numb and thoughts refused to reveal themselves to me in useful ways that made any sense, I took comfort in the formal rituals of death that I knew and understood. Contacting the priest. Arranging the funeral. Going to the Mass. Wrapping myself in the security of the traditions and practices I knew and understood dragged me through those first horrifying days.
This was the only part of Thomas dying that made any sense. It was the last time I knew what would happen next. Or what, as a grieving mother, I was supposed to do.
When he was finally buried I had nothing left. No rituals to cling to and nothing but empty space and endless time.
And that’s what I discovered that God was absent.
I looked and couldn’t find him. I asked and received no answer. I begged and pleaded and cajoled and was, each time, summarily denied.
And this abandonment fueled an ugly, seething rage within me. I continued to go to church, but I was suddenly an outsider in a world I that I used to feel so much a part of. I went simply to challenge God. To force him to deal with me. To taunt him with my anger. To let him know that I hadn’t vanished like he had, and wouldn’t go away without a fight.
Admittedly, I also went to church because I was too scared not to. This new God killed babies. My baby. And I was utterly terrified at what he might do next. So I went to Mass filled with hate and fear. For months.
I waged an epic battle with God.
There was no one great moment of clarity – no startling epiphany - that changed my thinking. I just slowly, quietly started to notice the anger seeping away. And in its place, a longing to belong again. To find peace. To make amends.
There is still a hole in my soul. There are band-aids and sticky tape and staples and glue bearing the weight of my fragile faith.
But I can accept this. If it takes a lifetime to grieve for a lost child, it makes sense that it might also take a lifetime to repair some of the relationships that were lost with him.
I have nothing but time. I can wait.