Savanna Ray was her baby’s name. She never knew if it was a boy or a girl. She didn’t wait long enough to meet her, or to see the high-tech photos at 20 weeks that predict boy/girl status. She ended the pregnancy. She couldn’t carry this shame into the world, so she carried it all herself, into her heart, and onto her shoulders, and it began quickly, to swallow her whole.
I remember when Tammy (my identical twin) told me she was pregnant. I too was carrying a child. My second. Her first. How exciting to be pregnant together! Our kids would get to grow up together, just like we did!
But, she wasn’t excited. She’d only known the baby’s dad for a few months – at most. She didn’t know if he would stick around. And I wasn’t sure what to say.
I don’t remember my response. Of course I knew the baby she carried was a gift, and yet, I just couldn’t read Tammy. She seemed so far away.
A couple weeks later, she called. “I lost the baby. I had a miscarriage.” It was a choice, for me - to believe, or not believe her words. I chose to believe. The other story, the other possibility, was far too much to bear. I mourned her loss, in secret, (sharing only with my husband my sadness over her losing this child) and she hid from her grief and overwhelming pain, as she hid even further from us.
Away from us, she ran into the arms of this man, the baby’s father, whom we, and she, barely knew. Living more than two hours from my family, this made it so Tammy and I rarely had contact.
Yet, even though we weren’t together, I knew her pain. I carried it – wishing I could erase her agony. I knew my pain was nothing, not even remotely – anything – like the pain she carried and attempted to bury every single moment of every single day. I had no concept, until many years later, of the grief she stored within her soul – of the death she carried around within her heart.
It had been four years. I had heard from Tammy remotely, and seen her enough to know that these years were not easy. She was in and out of institutions, running deeper into addiction, and wandering as far away from herself as she could. We had both lost our Dad to cancer in 2001, I had suffered a deep depression soon after his death, and I and my husband were raising three young children, and keeping a growing church ministry afloat. Both of us, surviving, coping, and breathing in very different ways.
Tammy had been in a women’s home now (a woman named Sandra visited Tammy in jail, and loved her enough to bring Tammy into her home) for many months, and she had been healing, recovering, and walking through a process of becoming whole again – for good. She was allowing her truths to surface and her freedom to soar.
She wanted to have a memorial service for her baby. She needed to remember and she invited me and my mom to attend. She was seeking our support as she faced the burial of her fears and of the years she tried to bury in her addiction and her running away.
No more secrets. No more buried shame.
Memorial. A remembering.
A sacred place and space of holding onto what was – and letting go of what is now ahead - a life celebration and a goodbye.
All wrapped into one warm, healing, whole blanket. Healing came this time. And it stayed. We serve a God who gives life to death. We serve a God who brings hope to our pain. We serve a God who brings beauty from ashes.
My daughter today is 14. Her name is Kylie. Her cousin, Savanna Ray, in the arms of Jesus, was formed in the womb of my twin sister, 14 years ago. Kylie’s cousin was conceived for great purpose, and her life carried a measure of grace that very few longer lives will ever know. I celebrate this little one’s life. For me, she brought an absolutely new understanding of the healing that only God can bring, as we allow Him to fill the brokenness in us.
Today, I watched my sister’s two boys, while she treated herself to a massage. She is a mommy to three, and I love her kids. We do share our lives together, and we celebrate her healing, and her hope that she carries, every day, into the lives of many other women, from her wounds that have been healed.
***My sister shared her story of her loss in Friday’s post. It is her heart’s desire to love women who are hurting in the ways that she too suffered. Would you read her post and remember her life as a place to offer hope to those you love, in this similar pain?
What Memorial Service do you need to hold in your life? What forgiveness of self do you want to choose? To walk through to the other side and believe and live in your healing? Please share. Your story may just be the story someone else can be blessed by.
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- Inseparable: The Secret that Kept me Stuck (by Tammy Bolt Werthem) (iwokeupyesterday.com)