Oscar Day is always a strange day for me. My Aunt Krissy throws a wonderful themed party every year for women only. We get dressed up in our best evening gownery (or whatever you feel like wearing, really) and eat exotic foods and ooh and ahh over the stars on the red carpet as they arrive. We pick our favorite outfits and make fun of our least favorites, and wonder why we haven’t heard of any of the movies they’re talking about. It’s a time to chat with our female relatives and friends and to enjoy an evening of frivolity.
At the same time, it’s bittersweet for me because eight years ago at the Academy Awards Party I miscarried my first baby. When I arrived at the party I already thought something was going wrong (although I had hoped not), but there was no use staying at home crying when I could be distracted by my best girls instead. So I took my hand painted mask for the Venetian mask theme and put on my best face. I have two distinct memories from that day.
The first memory is of my dear Aunt Caroline laughingly making a comment about the baby in her usual cheerful way. I had hoped no one would talk about my pregnancy but I remember that I wasn’t bothered by my aunt mentioning it…she was such a bubbly person. I think it sticks out so much because it’s one of the clearest memories I have of Aunt Caroline before she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. I can picture her smiling over the bar at Aunt Krissy’s house as she was preparing the food for the party…it seems that no matter where we were, Aunt Caroline was cooking something and was never the stressed out hostess. To this day I envision her at that Oscar party, scooping balls of watermelon out of the rind to make a bowl for her fruit salad. Laughing. As she always was. How can she really be gone?
At that same Oscar party, I lost our firstborn. I remember the surreal feeling as I sat in the bathroom, sobbing, while I could hear collective oohs and ahhs and laughter trickling in from the living room. Such carefree joy outside that door, such agony within. I called Greg to tell him what had happened and my mom drove me home as I cried. For the next few days I listened as Greg made the phone calls sharing the sad news. I wanted to hear every phone call, as if it wasn’t real until he’d told everyone. I remember doing the laundry for the first time afterwards, wondering how I could be washing clothes when a life was gone from ours? How can I vacuum when my baby is gone? Why does my friend get to have another baby when I can’t even have one? Why are we cooking dinner, or driving to work, or doing anything…what is the point? If you’ve had a miscarriage or lost a loved one too soon, you know that feeling. How can life continue as if nothing happened? Shouldn’t the whole world feel this emptiness I’m feeling? It’s been eight years since that day.
So here we are at another Academy Awards night. Off I go to the party where I’ll wear my dress and enjoy the show and laugh with the ladies. Time and two little boys does ease the pain of loss. Aunt Caroline will never be replaced, but the other Berg girls will carry on laughing for her and remembering her in all of the best ways. That venetian mask that I wore eight years ago sits on my office shelf, but it doesn’t bring pain to see it. With eight years between that night and today, the pain has turned to peace. What has happened will not change, and the feelings ebb and flow. Most of the time they are dull and lie deep under the surface. Now and then they bubble up from inside leaving me wondering what brought on such a sudden burst of emotion. There is a softness and a sympathy that comes from having experienced loss. There is a oneness with others who experience pain, whether small or deep. We do learn from each experience in life, don’t we? God is faithful in bringing me new blessings. And with new joys there is less room in my heart for dwelling on old sorrows. Today my blessings include ice skating with my boys, hanging out with my mom, aunt, and a sister who brings out the best in me and is the best friend I could ever have. We will relax and laugh and eat deliciously bad for us food. God’s gentle hand heals hearts. I begin this day with a genuine smile on my face.