Three peers in ministry.
One small office.
Huddled together, her smile and the light in her eyes gave away the surprising news. After over three years, it was finally here – a positive pregnancy test. I don’t remember what was said, but like a film clip, I remember it in the silence – wide-eyed disbelief, stunned faces, tears streaming down our cheeks.
Three peers in ministry.
Three women pregnant at the same time.
The years of day-counting, breath-holding, and disappointment-sharing, we had walked this journey together. She was the first one to begin the journey to conceive but she was the one still waiting on good news. She had endured the pregnancy, birth, and infancy of my first. A month earlier, she had endured the news of my second pregnancy. Our other counterpart had her first growing in her belly, one month left to go.
It had been thirty-seven months of having to share the “not yet” with us through a text, while watching the days go by and many other lives enter this world.
But on that October day, the greatest story ever told began. Hope was born. Miracle was performed. She was pregnant. We were all pregnant. I’m surprised no one noticed the glow permeating under the office door as we giggled, cried, and stared at one another.
Over the next two months, we reveled in the land of dreams come true. Twenty-six days where we each had a human life growing within us. One baby arrived at the end of October. One was due in May. One was due in June.
We talked about future moments yet to be – comments from church members, overlapping maternity leave, raising children together, children’s choirs, friends as family. We gave one another smiles across the room when we attended events with our secret tucked away as we waited for the first trimester to pass. We cried tears of joy along with our fellow staff when she told them. We recounted over and over the moment they called their families and shared the long-awaited good news. We talked about expanding bellies, morning sickness, and pregnancy clothes. We reveled in the glorious gift of watching life grow in that belly that had long awaited life’s beginnings.
When I look back, I give thanks for the two months of pure joy that little life granted to her… to us… to all those who knew of its beating heart.
It was the greatest story ever told.
But the Monday before Thanksgiving, the clock struck midnight and the fairytale came to a sudden end. The Great Sadness snatched the story from our hands, locked it away, and buried it underground.
It quickly became the greatest story never told.
The quiet phone call from the doctor’s office. Sitting at my office alone. The world turned gray. The news. The miscarriage.
We hovered around her. Flowers celebrated that little life that had brought joy into our world. Texts attempted to console the inconsolable. Angry prayers of lament attempted to change the unchangeable.
In the cruelest irony of shared friendship, she watched the other little lives continue to grow. The outside world celebrated the two babies. But they knew nothing of the third and she suffered in silence. The great terrible silence. Through it all, she continued on. Her fragility spoke of her love as a mother. Her strength spoke of her love as a friend.
Now a year and a half later, this little life’s mother is beginning to dig out the hidden secrets of her journey. She is offering others the keys that will unlock the stories that speak of joy and speak of loss. She is a brave, courageous, humble woman who is continuing to show up as minister of Love-made-flesh.
In vulnerability, she is beginning to share. So in love of her and in love of that little life, I share the greatest story never told so that the wider world can share in its beauty.
As it makes its way to the light of day, I pause and give thanks for the ways that little life was resurrection for us in its own day and time. I celebrate the way that little life brought joy to us, even if for only two months. And I await a new story that is still yet to come. I hold out the hope that God is not done and that life will still hold new surprises.
The greatest story tells us what is true…
…that Life is messy, brutal, and unpredictable. Its twists and turns drags us to places we never desired to go and teach us lessons we never wanted to learn.
…and yet, Life is beautiful, joy-filled, and surprising. Its hills and valleys lead us to moments we forever delight in and bind us in friendship we forever cherish.
The greatest story (n)ever told is one that was worth the ashes.