The day after we came home from the hospital with our newest baby, Mary, I turned on a “Love Songs” music channel. As I changed my new baby and then nursed her, a Jim Brickman song came on, and I started to weep. Then came "That's What Friends Are For," and I cried some more. I used to love sentimental songs that get me all weepy. But it had been a long, long time since I had let myself sink into one. For more than a year, I had avoided listening to sad songs, love songs, anything even the least bit wistful. In fact, I hadn’t listened to much music at all. Just a lot of talk radio. Music was just too hard for me.
A year ago last June, I had another baby girl. My daughter Hope, my second child. When I was four months pregnant with her, we went for our routine ultrasound, excited to be finding out the sex of our baby. We found out that our baby had a severe birth defect called anencephaly, a neural tube defect that prevents the skull and brain from fully developing. I was told my baby would most likely grow and thrive in my womb, but may not survive birth. And if she did survive birth, would live just a few minutes, up to maybe a few days.
I can tell you that after news like that, shock and fear will soon give way to grief, and for us, grief gave way to courage. I carried Hope for just over forty weeks, and to our joy and delight, she was indeed born live and wiggling. We held her in our arms for almost three days before we had to say goodbye, and let go of her for good. For all those days, through my labor and her delivery, and all the time we spent holding her and rocking her, we had music playing. We had made eleven CDs of our favorite, most meaningful songs. The day we lost Hope, we turned the music off. And I have not been able to bear listening to it since then.
And then three weeks ago we had our daughter Mary. We brought music for her birth, too, and some of it was the same from Hope’s birth. But it wasn’t until I was back home, alone with my new baby, with post partum hormones coursing through my body, that the music started to overwhelm me. As I cried, and hugged Mary, I realized it was finally okay. I didn’t need to turn the music off, I didn’t have to stop the overflow of emotion. I was happy, and the emotion was good. The tears were good.
Then a song came on called "Bless the Broken Road," by a group called Rascal Flats. It is about a man who is grateful for the wrong turns with the wrong people in his life, because it led him to the love he is with now. He knows that God had a plan for him to make his way down his broken road, and following that broken road was a blessing.
As I listened, I thought of the last year and a half as a broken road. My life, my family, didn’t happen as I’d wanted or planned. And my baby Hope surely, deeply, broke my heart. But there I stood with Mary, loving her so happily, with tears streaming down my face.
If Hope hadn’t come and gone from my life when and how she did, I most likely wouldn’t have Mary here right now. I wouldn’t be the mom I am now, loving her the way I do now. The timing would have been different. My heart would have been different.
I will always love Hope, and wish she could have stayed with us, and grown up with our family. There will always be a gap in our family, a hole in my heart, a special place for her that no one else will ever fill. But that break in my heart--that break in our road--led us to Mary. And as surely as I know that my heart has mended stronger than before, I also know that she is a blessing.
So I will listen to music—sad, wistful, sentimental music. And I will cry. But I won’t turn it off. It is not that having Mary has healed me. But Mary has given has given me back my tears, and brought music back to my heart again.
Every long lost dream lead me to where you are.
Others who broke my heart, they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way, into your loving arms.
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.