April 20, 2003

Memories of the Heart

Today is Easter Sunday, and Jane asked me to include this remembrance she'd written recently. So this is Jane speaking, and not me.

In my life there are a few days that come back year after year. At Christmas dinner, I will always remember throwing Nerf balls at my brothers the Christmas after my Dad died. We all needed to play, and Dad wasn't there to make us behave. Lent, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and Easter services also bring strong memories.

Early in 1996 after nearly eight years of medical problems and infertility, Will and I learned that I was pregnant. We tried to be cautious, and waited until after we had seen the ultrasound before we told anyone. We were so very joyous. Then, once again, everything went wrong. I miscarried on Mardi Gras. I sat through the Ash Wednesday service the next day and internally I raged at God. I lived Lent that year, with prayers, tears, feeling abandoned by God, and deep grief, while trying to pretend life was returning to normal. I went to church because I should, not because I wanted anything to do with a God who teased me with a child and then took the dream away.

Good Friday fit my mood perfectly, but I could not pay attention to the service. The first reading at that service is Isaiah 52, verses 1 to 13. I picked up one of the Bibles in the pew, and not being able to follow the service I continued reading in Isaiah, reaching chapter 54. I was stunned by what I found:

"Sing, O barren woman, you who have never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband," says the Lord. "Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left; your descendants will dispossess nations and settle in their desolate cities."

Sing for joy? More children? Enlarge your tent? I was stunned. God had not only heard me, he would give me joy and children even if I didn't understand the details. Hope came back. I was able to cry tears of release rather than grief and rage. I began to accept the Lord's peace. He had heard me, and I knew he had a plan.

That next year was wild. We celebrated the 70th birthdays of both of Will's parents; my brother John got married; Will and I hosted a couple's Bible study; Will's mother was finally diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)), and we were told by the doctors that it was OK to try again to have a child. After the prayers of many, I got pregnant. (As did every other woman in our couple's Bible study; be careful what you pray for!)

Then, Will's parents realized that they could not stay in their home (the house Will grew up in) and would have to move. After a few moments of discussion and with much fear and trembling we offered to buy it from them. We sold our old house and moved in on February 1st, thereby doubling the size of our home--a much bigger tent, indeed.

On Ash Wednesday, just under two weeks later, our son David was born; we had him baptized at the Easter Vigil service. We've since added James and Anne to our family--God knew we needed that bigger tent.

I don't know what plans God has for me, but each Lent and Easter season I am reminded of both the intense sorrow and the amazing joy He has for us.

Posted by Will Duquette at April 20, 2003 03:02 PM