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50/50: You may not get over it but you can get through it

Susie Ekberg Risher

‘It looks like you’ve got a healthy little baby there,” said the ultrasound technician, gliding the camera over my little baby bump. We all smiled at the monitor.

It’s July 1990 and I’m 14 weeks pregnant. I’m so excited to be pregnant again, and seeing that little white blur wiggling on the screen makes my heart do a little extra skip. But later that night I got sick, and by the time I got to the ER the next morning, I knew something was horribly wrong. I was all alone in the doctor’s office when they did the examination. The nurse with the kind eyes held one of my hands while she wiped away my tears with her other hand.

There was no reason I should’ve lost the baby. I had two beautiful children back home. There was no warning. Just one day an image on a screen, and the next day nothing.

I don’t remember if I told my parents or my sisters. I don’t remember what my husband at the time said, but I’m hoping it was something comforting and gentle. What I DO remember is sitting by myself in the room off our master bedroom, late at night after my children were asleep, listening to Sandi Patty sing “Another Time, Another Place” on an endless loop, crying alone in the dark.

I got over it. That’s why I can still tell the story in so much detail. I don’t think about it. It hasn’t affected me nor changed me at all. As everyone said, “You already have two children at home. You’re young. You can have more. It’s God’s will.” I’m tough. I’m fine.

I had no idea anything was amiss until someone told me that she had recently suffered a miscarriage and was now devastated. Her husband, family and friends had surrounded her with love, and they had even held a ceremony for her baby. My surprising internal response? Anger. Whatever, I thought. What’s the big deal? Get over it. I did.

Obviously I hadn’t gotten over it. That particular loss turned out to be a block of cement on my life path and my feet were firmly frozen in that block. On some level I had been unable to heal and move on from that day back in the summer of 1990. And I didn’t even know it.

What else don’t I know? Now I’m worried. I gingerly try to recall some tumultuous times from my first marriage and I can almost hear my brain screaming “NO, NO!!! Pull down the blackout curtain! Nothing to see here. Move on ...” and now my heart is racing. I don’t want to do this. Do I have to do this?

Before you get concerned and think you need to dredge up all the awful things from your past in order to heal, let me present a new strategy. Instead of “getting over” something, is it possible we can heal by “walking through” something?

We may not be able to just lightly jump over the trauma and injury, but we may be able to look at it when we feel it grab us by the ankle and say, “Oh hey – there you are. Thank you for letting me know that I’m stuck. This is a tough one, for sure.”

Then don’t run. Just don’t run away. Don’t pretend nothing’s wrong. Don’t pretend it’s no big deal. Stay. Then start walking slowly forward. Through. With your feelings. With your pain. Holding their hands. Just like the sweet nurse in the ER did with me. You may never get over “it” but I trust you will be able to get THROUGH it.

I DO think of that sweet little baby from time to time. She’d be about 23 right now. I’m sure she would’ve been beautiful, if she was anything like my oldest daughter. But I also trust that everything happens for a reason, even if I have no idea of what that reason may be.

I think of the gifts of that time, and I will tell you the greatest gift of them all was that for the first time I completely understood that something greater than me was present every step of the way on my life’s journey.

And I remember Sandi Patty’s comforting words to this day: “I’ve always heard there is a land, beyond the mortal dreams of man. That every tear’ll be left behind, but it must be in another time. There’ll be an everlasting light. Shining a purest holy white. And every fear will be erased but it must be in another place,” and even now as I’m listening to the song again I think “yes.”

I take a deep breath, and when I wonder if I still hurt from my baby loss all I can feel now is a beautiful open space. And that feels really peaceful, so perhaps my feet aren’t in that block of cement anymore. And for that I am eternally grateful.

Susie Ekberg Risher is a writer living in Fargo. Follow her on a yearlong journey to lose 50 pounds – half through emotional work and half through physical effort. Readers can reach her at