It was hope wrapped up there in that package. Hope adorned with a silver bow and a card that read, “Save this for your first child.” We unearthed that hope, my husband and I, with that newly-wedded bliss still coursing through our bones. Out it came from the bag full of silver and white and glitter with the words “congratulations” slapped across the front. We smiled at it, that hope right there in the form of a pink and yellow baby blanket. We smiled at it and then set it aside next to the blender and the crockpot and the freshly folded towels.
Then it was time to go, and we drove up the 5 freeway with the words “I do” still clinging to our lips. We drove and drove and drove with everything packaged neatly in the trailer behind us — the blender in the box labeled “kitchen,” the towels in the box labeled “bathroom,” the blanket in the box labeled “miscellaneous.” Our compass sent us north, and our hearts sent us catapulting into the future — our future — full of life and love and hope.
When our compass finally switched direction, we knew we were there — our first apartment. We dove in, headfirst, filling the emptiness inside. We hung pictures and set out the beanbag that was to serve as our very first couch. The blender was stowed neatly in a kitchen cupboard, the towels were folded in the linen closet, and the blanket was shoved into a chest for later use.
Then it was time to go. . . again. This time, we headed south, and everything was packaged neatly in the trailer behind us just like before. We drove and drove and drove and then filled the emptiness of our second apartment.
Until it was time to go. . . again.
. . . and again.
. . . and again.
But the emptiness seemed to follow us wherever we went. Because as we filled the void of each new apartment, there was one big vacancy we never could figure out how to furnish. We’d try anyway. We’d swallow hormones and try out diets and sit through blood draws, but life refused to find home with us, and the emptiness in my belly sank our hope month after grueling month.
Ten years slipped through that emptiness. It snuck past anniversaries and birthdays and job promotions. It trickled through tears and fears and longing. It found us in heartache and in questioning and in late night Google searches that almost always warranted no help. Month after month our tests were negative, and month after month my heart gave way to doubt.
And as time decayed our hope, it also reminded us of our lack. Because as it slowly slipped by, so too did little pieces of the lives we built for ourselves. Friends changed, family grew. There were “congratulations” greetings and “Welcome to the family” pleasantries. All the while, little by little, things began to point out the giant pause in which we found ourselves floundering. We were stuck while the world carried on in marvelous merriment.
Soon enough, our physical surroundings began to crumble. Our blender eventually gave out from years of smoothie making, and our towels were finally demoted to tattered rags. But that blanket, it sat untouched, as new as it was the day we got it an entire decade earlier.
We had been waiting, my husband and I, waiting through medical tests and ultrasounds and surgeries to unearth that hope again. Waiting to pull the blanket out from that timeworn chest, smile at it, and then set it aside next to the rattle and the bottle and the new heart-beating full of life, of love…of us.
And even after hope had nearly faded, a new and beating heart made its way to us on a warm day in September. It came with a scream and a prayer and a decade-old blanket for swaddling and sleeping. The blanket now is full of life, with its stains, its rips, its worn-out seams. And as time sneaks past, by more anniversaries and birthdays and promotions, I hold that blanket near my heart so full of hope, as I stare down at my empty belly and pray for God to grant us life again.
Sometimes our hearts are overwhelmed with the weight of this waiting, so familiar. Some days the weight seems heavier than normal, and we wonder if and when and how it will come to pass. Those are the days when the tears flow reckless, and hope seems to shrink to a quiet lull. But we’ve walked this road before. We’ve been within the shadows of doubt and have seen grace illuminate everything around us. It’s always there, that hope. Always. Sometimes it shouts at us in manic hysteria. Other times it whispers into the deepest recesses of our longing. But it is there — He is there. Hope, waiting to be unearthed.
Brittany Calavitta is an enthusiastic advocate for a good book, strong coffee, and a hopeful heart. After battling years of infertility, she and her husband welcomed their first child on September 11, 2016. You can follow her journey through her Instagram account (@BritCal) or through her blog at www.liveinthelonging.com