Many of you who read this blog know parts of our story. But some of this, I’m not sure that I’ve shared with anyone…
About a week or so before the 4th of July, in the midst of our crazy life, we found out that we were expecting our second child. I remember the moment I held that positive test in my hand….something we had been hoping for. I was ecstatic and terrified. Yay!! We’re having another baby!! And, oh my….everything is about to change….again…. All of those thoughts and so much more swimming through my head. My heart doubled in size in that moment. So I waited an entire evening to tell Justin by leaving the positive test on his pillow before we went to bed. His feelings were much the same – excited and stressed (his ever growing to-do list had a time frame now – we need our third bedroom finished!).
And we told our parents over that extended weekend with this adorable picture:
And life was good. I was teaching Aelah to say “Big Sister” and talking to her about moving to the big bed. We were discussing names and nursery themes. We told everyone else (including Facebook) we were expecting. I had my first appointment and everything was good. Baby’s growth was on target and that little heart was beating at a beautiful pace.
But then something happened. Just days before that 12 week mark, I took what I thought was just a precautionary trip to the ER only to be told that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. I was broken. I cried, we cried. I don’t remember much about that visit. But I remember Justin looking up at me, his voice choking, and asking, “Are we just being tested?” I knew what he meant. Our lives had already been scrambled a bit for other reasons, and now this!?!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This is worth more. I delete pictures off of my phone pretty regularly to clear up space. But this one remains. This was the morning after we found out our baby had died, less than 24 hours after our lives were forever altered. I was numb. But life had to go on. Certain things had to happen. We had to eat. We had to care for the child we did hold in our arms. We had to move forward…even though I so desperately wanted to go back… So we spent the morning as a family, embracing the joy God was granting us in the midst of our sorrow. Justin taught Aelah how to cook pancakes that morning. She was fascinated, completely oblivious to the grief surrounding her. “Oh wow” she would say each time he flipped a pancake. And asking him to do “more” when he took some off of the griddle. This picture is worth a thousand words, but more than that, it holds so much emotion; bringing both a warmth at the blessings I have in my life as well as a heartbreak for those that I have lost.
That night we went to a church service. Every time we prayed and throughout the time of worship, I prayed for my child. I had seen God move in some mighty ways within our church in the past month. Two people we had prayed over were healed…one with medication (far more quickly than it should have worked) and the other was unexplained – a mass that had been was now gone. I knew that God was bigger than any doctor’s prognosis. I knew that He could make the heart of that child beat again. And so I prayed that He would. The next morning as we were driving in the car, a song came on the radio: “You’re shattered like you’ve never been before. The life you knew in a thousand pieces on the floor….Tell your heart to beat again, close your eyes and breathe it in, let the shadows fall away, step into the light of grace. Yesterday’s a closing door, you don’t live there anymore. Say goodbye to where you’ve been and tell your heart to beat again.”
As I stared blankly out the window, watching the fields and trees pass by in a blur, the tears ran silently down my face. And I prayed and prayed that He would tell my baby’s heart to beat again.
But He didn’t.
And for a time after that, all I could think was “why?”
For me it wasn’t so much a question of ‘why did this happen’? It was more a question of ‘why not me?’ Why didn’t I get a miracle too? I struggled with that. What made me different? Didn’t we deserve a miracle too? Didn’t I deserve the chance to hold my baby in my arms? Why, God, why?? And all I heard were crickets…
I still don’t have an answer. But the difference between today and a couple of weeks ago is that I’m okay with the struggle.
I think we’re supposed to struggle with the ‘why.’ There are a lot of things that don’t make sense in this world. And we have all wondered at one time or another, ‘why?’ As we struggle with that question, we have two choices – turn away from God because we don’t have all the answers or turn toward God…because we don’t have all of the answers.
Faith. The struggle grows our faith. A few weeks ago, I felt like I was drowning in sorrow.
The ‘why’ was torturing me, pushing me further under. But God’s hand was right there, waiting for me to grab on so He could pull me to safety. He never left me. Not for a second. He may not give me every answer I want or think that I need, but He is always there to set me back on my feet, to pick me up again and help me start over. He is hope in the pit of despair. He is light in the midst of darkness.
The struggle, though difficult, reminds me of His presence and reminds me to rely on Him completely; to rely on Him for peace, for joy, for comfort, for life. The struggle is where I come face to face with my Creator and learn to be okay with the questions.
So for today, I will struggle with why. But I won’t let it overtake me. I will embrace the struggle and cling to the One hope that I have. I will take the hand He has extended and hold for dear life. I will not allow the sorrow of my trials to be for naught. I will rise. I will grow. I will move forward.
Because of the struggle.