Two years ago Thursday, I was in a hotel in Norman, Oklahoma with a couple of hours to go before I had to hit I-35 to Ada.
I went out for a run, got back and saw my cell phone blinking.
"Baby, call me please, they can't find a heartbeat. Just please call me."
From 17 minutes before.
We had a little girl, 17 weeks in utero - not an eternity in, but something in.
Not a new story, not a unique story, but our story.
We do boys really well. As I write this, five of them, ranging in age from college sophomore to eleven months old.
But Lilia died.
I knew it from the first second I heard Miranda's call.
But I was helped.
My friends at TAG covered for me and got me home, early the next day, before the procedure the following day. They were kind, and awesome.
I had to stay in Norman that night and Terry and Shane - colleagues- went to dinner with me.
I remember. Steak, rare - no starch please - just an extra helping of the broccoli and carrots and cauliflower.
I was drinking substantially then, so I may have gotten a little drunk.
God, I was sad.
Terry drove to the restaurant, Shane came in after and squeezed my shoulder when he got in. I am not a squeezer or a hugger yet Shane's shoulder squeeze I remember today.
We ate, Shane drove me back to the Embassy Suites, I got out, haltingly, and Terry hugged me.
I am not sure he is much more of a hugger than I am.
Maybe what he did was reciprocate my hug.
At any rate, I got hugged. And I felt loved.
TAG bent over backwards to get me home, substituting someone for my engagement; the Chickasaw Nation (my goodness, what great people) were kind. It may have been Shane, maybe Rich, who filled in for me.
I got home and we went to the clinic, the clinicians were awesome and Miranda spoke at the end of the procedure, the end of the day, these words when she woke up:
"Is my baby gone?"
So, you and I know we got off easy.
There are awful stories - even in my family - of stillbirths and unexpected dying. Just here in Charlotte, these last two days, a story of a seeming random car crash that is too awful to contemplate with a mama and babies dying.
But this was Lilia.
I kind of suck at remembering things, even watering trees. I have this sort of cauterizing ability hard-wired in my soul. I come across as distant to others, removed and unfeeling, and hard. I honest to God care, but I am not good at demonstrating so.
I know this.
A colleague at the time gave us - beautifully - a dogwood tree to remember Lilia by.
We have a pretty awesome backyard, where Lilia's tree is planted and occasionally I take #4 boy - Beckett - out there to water it.
But not always.
I sort of suck at the things that matter most.
I can express myself well with a MacBook Pro keyboard or a smooth legal pad surface and a Lamy pen. Aside from that, I fumble and fuss and almost always say the wrong thing unless I am in professional mode.
I am redeemed by the fact that I know this is true and that Jesus makes up for my lack and he has been doing that forever. Jesus fills in my every gap.
He has always been doing this for you and me, on I-35 and on our back roads and on the screaming highways and strangled nightmares and silent mornings of our lives.