The Equalizing Calm Before Chaos

“After four miscarriages and a lot of grief, Jenna and I have a joy we want to share with you: we are having TWINS! We are so excited (and terrified)!

We created this video telling our journey because, while many people suffer miscarriages and infertility, they often have to suffer alone and silently, misunderstood by the medical establishment and the people around them. Jenna and I found great comfort and solidarity in a prenatal loss support group, and it is our hope this video may be of some help to others.

‘We fall till we become rain in the air.

We fall till we find we can fall knowing no fear.’

(from a poem I wrote many years ago)”



As I opened Facebook on Valentine’s Day, I was unexpectedly greeted by a post from its new On This Day feature highlighting what had happened in the realms of social media on this day in the years before.

One year ago, as Facebook so unceremoniously scrolled across my Newsfeed, this was how Patrick and I had announced our pregnancy with Ezra and Leo to the world.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, as I was greeted by this old announcement I was transported back into a different lifetime. Each congratulatory comment felt like falling through a vortex into another dimension of another world, a cosmos of peace and tranquility so blissfully unaware of the pain ahead.

17218710_806250107269_4644603333415801263_o

 

“So happy for you!!!! Glad all is well!!!”

“I hadn’t heard the news yet, tears of joy for you both!!!”

“Praying for a safe pregnancy for all of you, and we are so thrilled for you all. Your video is heart-wrenching and beautiful.”

“Thanks so much for your vulnerability, honestly and courage in sharing your journey. How beautiful to see God’s kindness through it all.”

“We are excited to meet them, but keep reminding these babies that they have to stay in there and cook for as long as they can. We are rooting for Leo babies – anything after July 23rd!”

 

Sucked so suddenly into this vortex, it is both too possible and impossible to transport myself back to this time of unfettered happiness and joy. After enduring the devastation of four miscarriages already, we felt like we had already faced the worst of our journey; yet in actuality, we now know that we were simply sitting in the eye of the hurricane, unaware that the worst was yet to come.

The calm before the storm.

In the wake of her husband’s death, author Joan Didion writes in her memoir The Year of Magical Thinking about this all too common sensation of calm before chaos –

“Confronted with sudden disaster, we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames, the swings where the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy.

“Life changes in an instant. The ordinary instant.”

The ordinary instant – like a bowl of breakfast eaten in the cafeteria, like a quiet conversation on the commons, like a quick goodbye from a mother dropping her daughter off at the door.

“Alexandria Caporali was eating breakfast in the cafeteria when she heard a shot, turned and saw the teenager with the gun. She knew him as a quiet boy who played music and always seemed happy. After the first shot, she said he seemed to hesitate, but then he fired every bullet in the gun.

Out in the commons, two 16-year-olds, Lexie Waymon and Baleigh Culp, had been laughing and talking about makeup and the homecoming basketball game like ordinary teenagers on an ordinary morning. They heard the first bang, and imagined something equally ordinary, like a heavy book hitting the floor.

‘That’s what I expected it to be,” Culp said. “Until I saw a body drop on the ground and the bangs continued. There was bullets flying everywhere.”

KY School Shooting – The Daily Herald

Later on that same Valentine’s Day, other parents would be sucked into this terrible vortex of grief and loss, so unexpected and so unbelievably surreal that it must feel otherworldly. On that same day, 17 families would soon have their worlds turned upside down when they would learn the news that their child or their loved one had been slaughtered by a gunman. Ordinary moments on an ordinary day forever shattered by gunshots.

Lori Alhadeff dropped her 14-year-old daughter Alyssa off at school that morning, and in the way that mothers so often do, she said good-bye with a quick,

“I love you.”

Later that day, when she heard about the shooting, she hustled to school, but she could sense that she was too late. “I knew at that point she was gone. I felt it in my heart,” she said.

As she would soon learn and as we all know now, Alyssa Alhadeff was one of 17 students who was killed at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

180215155009-02-alyssa-alhadeff-stoneman-douglas-victim-exlarge-169
Alyssa Alhadeff
I can only imagine what it must be like for these families as they must now face this new reality in the wake of yet another school shooting. When I watched Lori’s desperate plea for someone to just “do something!” so that other children would not have to die so needlessly, my heart broke. It was hard to watch, yet hard to look away.

Our stories are very different. And yet, in the face of this mother’s overwhelming grief, I can sense a familiar pain. This is the devastation of a mother’s loss laid bare.

It is more than a week later now, and this mother’s screams still haunt me.

I am still processing what it all means. Already that morning, when so forcefully faced with my own grief, I found myself contemplating just how quickly and senselessly life as you know it can change. And then, mere hours later, the utter senselessness of this new tragedy seemed to prove the point.

There is something humbling about looking back before a tragedy to the ordinary moment that preceded it. This moment – this ordinary, everyday moment – is a great equalizer. For precisely because of the ordinariness of this moment, we know that something like this could happen to any one of us. And that startling realization fills us with fear.

Yet, within that connection, there is also immense power. The power of empathy is one of the strongest forces in the world. In recognizing ourselves and our own mortal vulnerability within the tragedy of others, pain transforms into power.

We could look upon the pain of this grieving mother with pitying sympathy. We may think, “Oh, that’s terrible,” but then look back to the security of our own lives and move on. Through empathy, though, our fate aligns with hers, because we know, and we fear, that we too could be next. Through empathy, we become connected, and like a whirlwind that picks up strength as it gathers more and more to itself, our combined pain joins together into a force whose strength can overcome all that it faces.

My own day that day started with this reminder within our own pregnancy announcement,

“We created this video telling our journey because, while many people suffer miscarriages and infertility, they often have to suffer alone and silently,”

Now the same is true as grieving mothers and fathers and children plead and beg for our help. The worst we can do is silence them and force them to suffer alone.

And so I have been challenged, just as I will now challenge you, to hear this mother’s grief-stricken screams and not to look away. Even when it is hard to watch. Even if you disagree. For her pain is our pain. For her child could be our child. For her ordinary day could just as easily be our ordinary day.

Then perhaps, as we are connected together, as our fates intertwine, maybe we will finally answer her cries to

“do something!”



As we start the next step in this journey to create our family, we are facing new challenges. We anticipate that the adoption process will cost somewhere around $40,000. Though our adoption agency is a nonprofit organization, these costs go to pay for the legal expenses, the counseling that the agency provides for the birth mother and her family, some of the birth mother’s medical bills and living expenses, etc.

If you would like to help us offset some of these costs, you can support our adoption journey here –

https://www.youcaring.com/jennaandpatrickheery-1026485

10389992_10152601391556609_7728869783893224198_n

One thought on “The Equalizing Calm Before Chaos

  1. So beautiful and profound! So much pain and the feeling of helplessness. Still the teenagers who suffered loss are clearly showing us a way forward. You, Patrick, and those kids give us all courage.

    On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 6:41 AM End of the Rainbow wrote:

    > jheery posted: “”After four miscarriages and a lot of grief, Jenna and I > have a joy we want to share with you: we are having TWINS! We are so > excited (and terrified)! We created this video telling our journey because, > while many people suffer miscarriages and infertility” >

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s