by Deborah Robertson
I can’t remember exactly where I was recently when I realised ‘that’ feeling had gone. ‘That’ feeling of profound sorrow would overwhelm me, especially when I was having a wonderful time with my son. I think we were at the kitchen table.
At the same kitchen table about eight years earlier I realised I couldn’t take it anymore. It was breakfast and my son was enjoying his cereal when I looked at him and was overwhelmed with ‘that’ feeling.
I couldn’t help thinking, ‘You are such an amazing boy! Where is your brother? Where is your sister?’ I must have gotten up to do something when I broke a cup. The sound of it smashing was nerve-shattering. Then I knocked my knee on the chair, which really hurt. Somehow I stifled a scream, then drove my son to school. I got home and broke down at that same kitchen table.
Working as a model and an actor, I had been used to maintaining an image. But for about a year I couldn’t stop eating and I stopped caring about keeping up appearances. I wanted to get going again and used to scold myself, ‘Just get up, stop stuffing your face, do some sit-ups and go and earn some money again!’ But scolding didn’t work. I’d had miscarriages and trying to get on with life wasn’t working.
The first one was very difficult but I thought I could handle it. The second one … oh the second one! I was filled with fear. I lay on the bed with my partner and went stone cold. I believed it meant I was never going to be able to have another baby. My partner couldn’t comfort me. Nothing could comfort me. I was inconsolable.
Not long after the miscarriage we split up. Years went by. The pain affected every part of my life. I decided I was going to give myself some space to properly grieve. My son and I moved to a less expensive home and that inner vow must have triggered a meltdown of my carefully constructed mask. I started writing down the song I thought no-one would hear. The chorus goes like this, ‘I can’t say one good thing, and I pray ‘cos I can’t think, that the Lord above has you in his arms, he’s holding you close and he’s being your mum’.
Amid all of this, I had become a born-again Christian. Everyone I went to church with seemed so ‘happy, shiny’. I wanted to be ‘happy, shiny’, but something inside told me I needed to start telling it exactly like it was. If I didn’t begin with honesty, I wouldn’t stand a chance. I started writing. ‘Broke a china cup this morning, knocked my knee upon a chair, I looked across the table at your face that wasn’t there.’ That was accurate. ‘I can’t keep on hiding all the tears I should be crying, all the loneliness inside me and the way I still care.’ That was the truth.
I turned to food a lot while I was working through the grief, but there were also times I’d write more songs. I have an arts background so I thought I might write a musical. I didn’t have any keyboard skills, so I rang the local university to ask about lessons. The woman who took my call, Yanina, happened to be the worship leader of her church. I booked a lesson. Yanina is a beautiful, compassionate woman and I really enjoyed sharing my songs with her and learning some chords.
Over the next couple of years we’d get together for lessons. When I said I’d like to do an album, she gave up her lunch hours and I’d run my songs by her. The tune of ‘He’s Being Your Mum’ came back to me. I told her I had a song about a miscarriage I’d had, but that I didn’t know if it was any good. She insisted I sing it to her. By the end of it we were crying our eyes out. It was amazing. It was so healing to cry with this beautiful woman of God.
Yanina said that she wanted me to write a positive ending to the song. This is what came: ‘I can’t say one good thing. But I’ll pray and I will sing because the Lord above has you in his arms. He’s holding you close and he’s being your mum.’
Somehow that last chorus changed the whole song. Somehow it has changed my whole life. There was hope. I had had a revelation. That my babies really are with Jesus. That one day my son and I will meet the rest of our family. This was a tremendous comfort to me. My pain was halved. I could finally, albeit slowly, get on with my life again.
Deborah Robertson is a Christian singer/songwriter from Melbourne and regularly attends St Matthew’s Lutheran Church Footscray. ‘He’s Being Your Mum’ is from the EP ‘All Praise to You Lord’. Copies are available at www.deborahrobertsonmusic.com
Deborah will be performing alongside Viki Mealings at ‘Live at the Chapel’ in Bendigo Victoria on 5 August and in Sunbury on 26 August (See www.facebook.com/liveatthechapelbendigo and www.facebook.com/liveatthechapelsunbury). If you would like information on having Deborah sing and/or share her testimony at your church or event, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org