When going through a time of suffering, it is easy to think and feel as though your suffering is ultimate. Surely, no one understands what you are going through and their suffering can't possibly compare the pain and grief that you feel. While it feels this way, deep down we all know and realize that, even though this may be the most painful thing that we have ever experienced and far more painful than we could have ever imagined, there are those whose suffering far outweighs that of which we are experiencing.
To me, infertility has many times felt like a death that I have experienced over and over again. You may think that that sounds dramatic, but it is the only thing I can compare it to. It feels as though the one thing that I want most in this world has been stolen from me, my husband and my marriage in the most selfish of ways. We never had a choice, it was simply because of the way Elias was born. Somehow, that just doesn't seem fair or right.
I was blessed and humbled this weekend to be reminded that maybe we are being spared something horrible. I have never written about this, because I didn't know if it was my place. However, I asked Elias and he didn't seem to think that there was any reason for me not to. Elias had a brother that he unfortunately never had the chance to know. His name was Eric, he was my mother-in-law's first born baby and he had Cystic Fibrosis. This is no secret. Many people remember Eric, but since Elias never knew him, we don't talk about him often. Beginning last Christmas, Malinda (my mother-in-law), began a book of some of her writings for all of us kids. Last year, I was humbled as I read her account of having Elias and finding out that he had Cystic Fibrosis after losing Eric four years earlier. This was something I had wondered about in the past, but it seemed too personal to ask about. This year, I was even more humbled as I read her story of Eric; his birth, struggling to learn why he wasn't growing, his diagnosis, his life and his death at the age of 7 1/2. Eric was born 11 years before Elias with a more severe case of CF when there were less treatments. I don't write this to tell Malinda's story for her or to tell Eric's story for him. I write this because as I read her account and the pain that she, my father-in-law and Elias' oldest sister went through, I am challenged to look at my own story of suffering and think of how much worse it could be. I have to wonder, is there something when my egg and Elias' sperm come to together that would not result in a health baby? Even though the embryos look fine, is this actually God's grace on our lives, keeping us from an even greater pain?
There is no way for me to know, and it's probably better that way. It's so easy to take suffering at face value and wonder "why me?" while forgetting that sometimes, there is a reason. I don't think all suffering has a reason or a purpose, what would that say about a mother losing a child? But I do think that we can all grow because of suffering even, or maybe especially, if it breaks us in the process.