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|
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.
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!)