Loss 150 150 Nathaniel Lee Hansen

On Friday evening, you leave a church event, feeling grateful for how the staff organized and hosted a dinner for church volunteers. Several hundred people attended, and there were awards, games, and laughs. It was a welcome ending to a long week.

You leave overflowing with joy, so glad to be a part of such a great church, people authentic with God and each other, all striving to live out the two greatest commandments. Driving home with your family on a beautiful Friday evening in Central Texas, you feel so alive. That’s the way you would describe it.

Not 45 minutes later, the kids already in bed, you are unwrapping the dishwasher soap—one of those rectangles in a packet—and your phone plays the descending run of notes. You set the dishwasher tablet on the counter, and then pull your phone from your pocket. You read the words, and the first thing you say is “oh, no.” Your wife steps out from the bedroom and says, “What happened?” The second thing you say is “oh, no.”

She steps closer and you tell her: a friend’s baby is stillborn. You have not experienced heavy loss in your life thus far. You know it will happen, some time (some times). You cannot imagine measuring the mass of that grief. You have no concept. Your own children are already asleep in their rooms, and you cannot imagine either of them suddenly taken out of this life.

Where is that elated mood you brought home with you? It is a dispersed vapor.

Later when you and your wife do your evening devotions, you pray for this couple, and as you pray for God’s peace, for God’s comfort, you are choking up, you are demanding how they could possibly have peace and comfort. You are asking why this happened to this couple—less than 2 months from the due date.

There are no easy answers. You know this. You also know that your church family is an amazing group of people who will weep, will mourn, and will walk beside this couple. You know that “church family” can be a Christian cliché, but you know others are responding and that over the days and weeks and months that people will continue to do so.

And, you, as a part of the called-out ones will weep, will mourn, will walk beside.

–for C.D. & K.D.–

Nathaniel Lee Hansen

I’m a poet, fiction writer, and essayist. My chapbook, Four Seasons West of the 95th Meridian, was published by Spoon River Poetry Press (2014). My work has appeared in Christianity and Literature, Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland, Blast Furnace, Driftwood Press, Whitefish Review, The Cresset, Midwestern Gothic, and South Dakota Review, among others. I currently serve as an assistant professor of English & Creative Writing at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas. I also edit Windhover: A Journal of Christian Literature and direct the annual Windhover Writers’ Festival. When not writing or teaching, I run, read, play piano, listen to music, and play disc golf. My greatest joys are my wife, my son, and my daughter. I was born in southern Minnesota, but while growing up, I had little interest in the Plains and opens spaces. A stint at a rural state liberal arts college in southwestern Minnesota, as well as grad-school stints in northwestern Minnesota and southeastern South Dakota, altered my interests. @plainswriter, plainswriter.com, & www.facebook.com/plainswriter

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