1. Letter to My First Child
I was always uncertain about becoming a father. The dominant voice in my head was fear of small children and uncertainty about entering a part of life I wasn’t sure I could control. When my wife Kristine got pregnant, I began hearing a different voice – one that encouraged me to acknowledge deeply hidden dreams of what sharing my life with this child could involve. When she miscarried, I had to reconcile my uncertainty with my dreams as I faced the unexpected reality of miscarriage. This chapter tells that story. In grieving and reflecting on the miscarriage, I choose to name my unborn child as a real person instead of a non-event. I also wrestle with my own identity as a father. The gospel hymn, I will meet you on that beautiful shore, helps bring resolution as I look forward to meeting my child for the first time.
2. Lament – On the Death of My Second Child
I could not to write a letter to my child after our second miscarriage, because I was paralyzed by my grief. I wanted to forget everything about both pregnancies. The lament in this chapter engages writings from Nicholas Wolterstorff, Rich Mullins, David Adam, and Frederick Buechner. These writers helped me make a journey to the point of granting dignity to my unborn children by choosing to remember their lives.
3. Letter to My Second Child
This letter’s dark mood is shaped by a miscarriage that lasted over 4 weeks. During those uncertain weeks, I was afraid to hope for the life of my child because I didn’t want to be hurt by another miscarriage. I was reluctant to love my child because I didn’t know if they would live. I resented Kristine for responding to this miscarriage differently than I did. The reflections and grieving in this chapter describe each of these burdens. Describing them helps me acknowledge the hope for this child’s life that was hidden deep beneath my cynicism about the impending miscarriage. I also begin to see glimmers of silent grief in the world around me. Granting dignity to my two unborn children becomes a call to enter those areas of silent grief. The concluding words from I will meet you on that beautiful shore claim a hope that overcomes my cynicism.
4. Lament – On the Death of My Fifth Child
We had two healthy girls after our second miscarriage. When we decided to try and get pregnant a fifth time, I thought I was prepared for a third miscarriage. I was wrong. After the second miscarriage, I wanted to forget. After the third miscarriage, I wanted to give up. The lament in this chapter uses text from the Northumbria Community’s Celtic Daily Prayer, which I set to music, to describe my encounter with that despair. Voicing my lament enabled Kristine and I to commit that the darkness of the miscarriages will not be the final answer that defines how they affect our lives.
5. Letter to My Six Children
This letter is written to my living and unborn children together. I wrote it to explore the role that the miscarriages continue to have in our family. Kristine and I grieved our first two miscarriages separately from each other. Through the births of our living children and through our third miscarriage, we have worked hard to define a narrative that brings us together. This letter discusses the three key elements of that narrative: remembering the miscarriages; holding our children and our home with an open hand instead of trying to protect ourselves from pain; and seeking healing in places around us where we see similar patterns to the hope, shattered dreams, and silent grief that we experienced with the miscarriages. The closing song, Take Heart My Friend, by Fernando Ortega, is our family’s anthem for living out this narrative.
6. Epilogue: Songs of Comfort
Kristine and I compiled a set of songs after the third miscarriage, which we listened to as a way of processing our grief. The Epilogue lists those songs, as well as brief descriptions of why they are meaningful to us.