Saturday, 11 September 2010

Heading to TN and retelling the story

In just over a week, I'll be hopping on a plane and making my way out to south eastern United States for a little break. You may have read on this blog about our loss earlier in the year and our journey since then and this is part of the healing process.
Around now we would have been reaching the end of a twin pregnancy if all had gone to plan. It's difficult to know when the date would have been as twins are even more unpredictable, but it would have almost certainly been sometime in September. Back in the aftermath of the miscarriage, we realised that 2010 was looking very empty without this event to mark a stake in the ground and so we made the decision to look for positive, memory making experiences so that September 2010 wouldn't always be about loss, sadness and miscarriage.

Andy and I this summer...he's pretty cool
Thanks to Mr Tesco Clubcard points, converted into Airmiles, I am flying out to Atlanta GA where I'll be picked up by Emily and Jack to have a week with them and their new, month old daughter Madeleine. Can't honestly remember if I've told the Jack story on here, but I'll tell it again anyway!

Back in 2004 we were having some work done on our house in Gateshead. As it was roof work, very messy and dusty, we went off to New Wine festival for a week leaving the workmen to get the job done. It was a wet week, plenty of rain in Somerset for the festival and the same in the North East. On our return to our house, we unlocked the front door and were faced with a smell I can only describe as rotting. All the way down our stairs, directly in front of us was black sludge and the walls had black wet patches all down them.
We were in complete shock - and it transpired in the following few hours that our builder had left the roof uncovered on a night of thunderstorms and huge amounts of rain and we had been flooded from top to bottom...
Fast forward a couple of weeks - we'd moved out cos the house was uninhabitable, the insurance company were assessing the damage and the dehumidifiers were doing their best to dry out the house. Living with Andy's godparents near Durham, we started to lick our wounds and the implications of the flood were sinking in. It was pretty depressing. I had compassionate leave from work, Andy eventually suffered anxiety bouts which left him deflated and struggling to engage with people at all. In the midst of this, in early September we were invited to lunch with Andy's other godparents and their new Methodist minister...well, free meal we thought and a change of scene...
And there we met Jack King, newly arrived from the States, Tennessee to be precise and over for a year as part of his seminary training. He was the same age as me (26 at the time), living in the Manse or Vicarage and getting to know not only the church but also the North East culture and language and food!
We had a great year, lots of fun times, meals out, trips to the beach and theatre and just general hanging out and connecting with this great man of God who was just wanting to make the best of every opportunity. Jack and Andy especially bonded and Jack was introduced to the extended Smith clan on their many visits as well as to my folks.
On 7th May 2005, at our combined housewarming/27th birthday party, Jack blessed our newly refurbished, redecorated home after 6 months of work, renovations and living elsewhere. It felt like a coming home in so many ways and that evening was one of the most significant and memorable of my life.
After a year, Jack returned to Tennessee, to a job in Knoxville at the Methodist Church there and we kept in touch as much as we could. Just after his arrival home, Hurrican Katrina struck and he was involved in huge amounts of ministry and outreach to displaced people from New Orleans.
Jack met Emily on his return to Knoxville and they married on 7.7.2007 - we weren't able to go, Matilda was only small and money was not so forthcoming with just a few months notice. But we did visit for 10 days in August 2008 with Matilda who was then 18 months. Meeting Emily was nerve wracking - what would she be like, would she like us? But it's fair to say that she and I had a soul connection, something God given and truly special came about in those 10 days and it was with many tears and sadness that we left to come home at the end of our trip...we promised to return again for Andy's 30th birthday in 2011 which we still plan to do.
But with the events of this year and the sadness and loss and rebuilding we have been doing, I needed something exciting and unique to to focus on. Soon after the miscarriage, while I was convalescing at home, Andy asked me what would make me feel better or I would look forward to doing. I didn't have to think long before I said "I'd like to travel on my own"...Andy's following question was "Where to?" and I knew I'd want to go and see Emily. I have many wonderful friends and family, more than a girl deserves. But there is something unique about a friend at long distance, who it isn't so easy to see or contact, where time zones mean we're asleep when they're awake and lives go at a different pace.
Google Chat has been a life saver as Emily and I have kept in touch and worked through many feelings and emotions. She took time out of lectures to chat with me online, rang when she should have been sleeping and enabled me to see beyond my immediate situation and gave me hope for the future.
I feel very blessed at her willingness to give up some of her precious time with her new baby to spend with me next week. I am amazed and in awe of a God who has allowed me to follow and share in such a dear friends' pregnancy and have loved that journey, in spite of the pain we have also found in it. Pain is not always bad, it is refining and forms us in a way which is more precious as a result. I have no doubt that it would have been easier to stick only with friends who haven't been pregnant, but in Emily and in my sister, I have people whose preciousness to me and whose understanding of me have enabled me to cope with pregnancy close at hand. It was with huge elation that we stalked Facebook and waited on emails for news of Emily's labour and we rejoiced at the birth of Madeleine Clara King on 19th August, followed by the birth of our nephew, Frederick Peter Lane on 24th August.
There are a mix of emotions right now - I am SUPER excited and cannot wait to get off that plane in Atlanta and see Emily and Jack and kiss that baby's head. I am also desperate for switch off time...being disconnected will be so good for me and I am going to try and be disciplined about staying off facebook and just keeping in touch with home. But my Love Language is acts of service and I want to bless Jack and Emily and Madeleine with my time there and hope I can be useful in getting them settled in their new home (they moved 10 days after Madeleine was born!), and doing what I do best - feeding people! I am nervous about being away from home - missing Andy and Matilda and having these experiences without them will be weird. This is a situation where I'm not sure of how I will feel...and I'm not good with the unknown or the unplanned. But God has been teaching me so much about letting him take control - and miscarriage in a way is the ultimate lack of control. Nothing I could have done would have changed the outcome. I don't understand that, but that's the way it is. And I must leave that with the Lord, who has plans to prosper me and not harm me, to give me a hope and a future and my hope and my future lies in my wonderful, faithful, loving husband and my clever, inquisitive and hilarious daughter. Only God knows what our family will look like in 2, 5, 10 years but I am content and thankful for all I have and all I have been through...strange as that may sound.
Who knows what these 6 days away will bring. I am open to whatever God wants to do in me and I shall be surprised I am sure. And I'd appreciate your prayers (Jack and Emily may do too!)

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