Ashes to Ashes and The Question of Heaven

When I was little, I remember going to see the Care Bears movie and thinking that Care Bear Land must be what heaven is like. Think about it. That place was basically a castle/playground in the clouds and the Care Bears got to fly around in little cars and peek through the clouds to see who needed their help before sweeping down to save the day. How could heaven (and angels for that matter) not be like that? I couldn’t imagine anything better. Frankly I still kind of hope heaven is like that.

To be honest, I’ve never been a big believer in heaven. For most of my life I’ve fallen squarely in the agnostic camp when it came to life after death. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. It never seemed particularly important to me – life now, here on earth, that was what was important and worth worrying about. Perhaps my anti-anxiety meds keep me from feeling all “angsty” about what comes next. But since we lost our boys, I find it matters more to me now.  [Read more...]

Carrying The Weight

It’s amazing how quickly twenty extra pounds can become the new normal. I’ve been fortunate and frustrated that my weight has been constant ever since high school. A few pounds on here, a few pounds off there, but basically the same. Marriage added five pounds, for which I blame my husband completely, but otherwise, it stays the same.

Pregnancy, however, changed all that. When we lost our twin boys 19 weeks into the pregnancy I had already gained twenty pounds. (God only knows how much I would have weighed if we had been able to carry them to full term.) Having never been pregnant before, I figured that once I had given birth the weight would disappear. That only seemed fair. No babies, no baby weight. Anything else would go against my inherent belief in the karmic justice of the universe.

The universe failed me.

After the boys were born I had only lost five pounds. And, five months later, I’ve only lost a few more.

You would think that the death of twin boys and our grief surrounding that loss would be all-consuming. What is a few extra pounds in the face of such a loss? But, if I’m honest, on a day to day basis, it is the extra weight that bothers me the most. Maybe it is that the death of babies is too big to grasp most days, too big to carry around when the rest of life goes on. Or maybe it is simply that extra weight is the only thing that is tangibly different in my life now that we are no longer pregnant. Whatever the reason, the weight bothers me.

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Hospice Grief

She lay on the couch, drowning under blankets and quilts. She looked so much older than her short 51 years – so shrunken and withdrawn. Her husband hovered. It was evident that he was the hopeful one, and she the one wrestling with a reality that was soon going to extinguish her.

A gaggle of words babbled from my mouth: what hospice does, who a chaplain is – but really, what words are there to offer in this place? Only the comfort of knowing others have gone before you, questionable comfort.

It’s so easy to hide behind the badge. Who am I? Look – it says right here, I’m the chaplain. I’m in seminary – a senior. I studied for this. I’m prepared for this. I can barely begin to fathom this.

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