October 3, 2008

This afternoon I peeked in at glow in the woods and was nearly moved to tears by Kristin’s post, in the absence of miracles. I prayed for my boy, too. I asked for miracles even though I didn’t really expect to get them, and I still don’t know what to make of that, or where I stand with God.

Miracles were already on my mind, then, when the cameras focused on the sign being held up by a hopeful Cubs fan in the ninth inning of a losing game. “Do you believe in miracles?” read the sign. Well, I thought, do I?

It’s not really a straightforward question. Part of me would love to believe in miracles, to do it wholeheartedly, but I think that is the same part of me that would like to believe in fairies. That isn’t meant to be facetious; I love fairy tales and fantasy. If I were a script writer for real life, there would be more magic running around. I have a hard time believing in things I really want to believe in, though. If I want something, goes the reasoning, I’m likely to believe in it just because I want it. How can I trust myself to pick true things to believe when I’m so biased?

When we were preparing for Teddy’s birth, I let myself believe, for hours at a time, that we’d all be okay. I talked to doctors about NICU visits and breast milk storage. I bought a car seat and laughed with N over dreams and plans for the future. Even though I knew, somewhere inside, that the future might be much darker than what we envisioned, I didn’t believe in that future. I didn’t believe in this place where I am now.

Yet here I am.

This is partly comforting. In spite of the ubiquitous platitudes (often used in marketing) telling us to believe in order to make good things happen, it is now absolutely clear to me that my belief isn’t needed to make anything real. Furthermore, the law of averages indicates that eventually this has to work in my favor (go Cubs?).

The part of me that wants to believe in miracles has been hard hit in the past few months. I’m no longer sure that believing in miracles is at all a good thing. Some members of my family take great comfort in the belief that miracles happen, that last minute saves can come out of nowhere simply for the asking. But if you believe in miracles of this sort, how do you handle the fact that not everyone gets them? Some survivors of CDH are referred to as “miracle babies” by their loved ones and perhaps those parents believe in miracles, but there were no miracles for us. If I believed in miracles for the asking, I’d have to believe that N and I were denied because we did something wrong or that God is playing Russian roulette up there. And then I’d have to hate God.

If there are no miracles, then I don’t have to feel anxious about why mine were denied, or angry at God for favoring others instead of us. This would be something of a relief.

On the other hand, I’m not clear on the definition of miracle, either. If all babies are miracles, then Teddy was one, too. If all good things that elicit awe – even quiet awe – are miracles, then I am not poor in them, even in my grief.

For now, I don’t know if I believe in miracles. I believe in sunsets, in the languorous stretches of our cats, in my safe place within N’s arms. Are these miracles?

Does it matter?

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