What he didn’t say…..

What he didn’t say….

Twenty two years ago today I stood in the hallway at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, in great sorrow.  Earlier in the afternoon Leann and I were informed at a three-times-weekly ultrasound that our daughter, Gretchen, had died before she was born.  Her twin sister, Lindsay, would be delivered by C-Section and had a tentative start at life, but celebrated her 22nd birthday today as a recent college graduate – healthy, beautiful, ready to make her own mark in the world.

My friend, Joe Walker, showed up after he heard the news.  I remember we stood there in silence.  I remember thinking how I could not imagine being him right now…what could I possibly say to somebody in this dark and sorrowful reality?  He said nothing.  He did just what he was supposed to do.  He was there – present with me at a time when that is really what I needed more than anything.  Just somebody to be present.  So I post this poem I wrote about ten years later remembering that very hard day.

The premise set forth in the title comes from the notion of the famous person that is proclaimed to have done something important some place(IE: “Washington slept here.”)

God Wept Here

If God wept everywhere they say he did,
he would be a God of a river of tears.

I stood in silence
waiting on my bride
but not with a crowd,
not to walk down the aisle,
not to stand beside her
making promises
that would carry us through the years.

A light blue hospital hall,
a wall painted with hope
where sometimes there is none,
and a man,
my friend,
just an ordinary Joe
with his head bowed
and no words to say,
a good thing because
God cannot speak
at a time like this;
God can only weep.

The nurse calls me in,
my double pregnant wife
flat backed down,
the bridal gown traded
for a blue paper tent
draped from her chin
and poled pup-tent like
before her knees,
as if we need to
what is going on behind that wall
to be frightened
by this scene from our wonderful life.

The nurse seats me
by the sad bed
head bowed, elbows on knees,
leaning my face almost
to a mother’s shoulder
where our babies should be.
The mother reaches her ringless hand
for my inadequate help,
for wordless silent prayer
bathed in tears.

A human font of baptismal water
and wine-colored blood will flow
from the ballooned stomach
when they cut the bulging chrysalis
and open the grave
where our baby girls now lay.

One will be exhumed
for me to hold and sing
a final lullaby,
the other to open her wings,
receive the breath of life
from the weeping God,
salted soft wind breath
breathed into virgin lungs
that provide virgin birth
all over again.

And Joe still stands outside
or has Jesus taken his place
with a face like my friend?

“God wept here,”

the mental memorial reads
that I hung in the blue hall
with walls I still lean against
when I see my friend,
when I see God.

Matt Steinhauer – April 25, 2001



3 thoughts on “What he didn’t say…..

  1. What an awesome poem. I never knew that story. Tate was a twin. His sibling didn’t make it as far, but I never knew we shared that in common. I do know that God wept, and sustained us through the rest of Brenda’s pregnancy and in the difficult and joyous days to come.

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