For many years, I’ve thought about starting a blog. I’ve hesitated, because I really believe that in these precious years when my little ones are little…I would rather be with them than be writing about being with them.
But in life, there are moments of impact. Moments that change you, and all you knew of life…forever. And this week…on January 28th, 2013…we experienced the deepest, most heart-wrenching, life-altering moment of impact we will probably ever face.
Our precious son, Charlie James Zeller was born without a beating heart. His body was whole and beautiful and perfect…but the breath of life was gone. No words can fully describe the sorrow and torment in this moment of impact.
Last Sunday night, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I just hadn’t felt Charlie kicking very much. Of all of my children, Charlie was the only one who I had felt kicking very much to begin with, so I was more concerned than I normally would have been. Since I was at 37 weeks I felt that things were fine and that I should just go in for a quick stress test. I didn’t even pack a bag. I went alone. Utterly and confidently alone… because I didn’t know it was going to be the darkest night of my entire life. I just didn’t know. I got to the hospital and the nurse came in to check on my sweet baby’s heartbeat. Every other time we’ve checked for the heartbeat it has taken but a moment. Charlie is my little kicker. His heartbeat is also easy to hear and fast to find. And yet, as the nurse waved her little wand around my belly…there was just silence. Silence forever. Finally, I told her, “This just isn’t normal…it never takes this long.” And so, an incredible doctor who just “happened” (one of a million mercies of God) to be on the floor that night, said he would come take a look with his ultrasound so I wouldn’t have to wait an extra hour for the on-call doctor to arrive. By this point…I knew. I knew what silence means, but I still couldn’t comprehend what that moment of silence would mean for my night, for my week, for my life.
The doctor came in and after a few moments of looking at my belly, at Charlie’s home, he said, “I’m sorry. I don’t see or hear anything. Your baby is gone.” I couldn’t even cry. I couldn’t even comprehend. I just kept moving. Through the worst phone call of my life…to the person I love more than anyone in the world who was so very excited to meet his new baby boy. Through six trys and retrys of an epidural that would not even end up working. Through a long night of labor that would not end in joy, and an even longer night of the soul. Through that ultimate moment of impact when Charlie came out and we didn’t even know it because of the silence. I remember looking at this beautiful, perfectly formed, and absolutely precious little body and thinking, “There he is. He is finally here. And he is gone.” I knew…I knew beyond any doubt that his body was here in the hospital room of earth, but that my little boy was not here…I knew our baby was already with the Lord.
I love theology and could wax poetic on all of the verses of Scripture that bring confidence to my heart that Charlie was immediately with Jesus in heaven, but for now I’ll save those. What matters is that I knew. And knowing was enough to get through the night, and give grace for that moment. Those moments of holding him, this hot little weight in my hands…who had Emma’s feet, Sophie’s nose, Freddo’s crazy hair, Mommy’s chin, and Daddy’s lips. Feet I so badly wanted to hear running along behind the “big kids.” A little nose I wanted to wipe every time he fell and scrapped his knees in the true fashion of a little boy. Hair I wanted to tousle, lips I wanted to kiss. And all of that…ALL of that was gone.
And then, in that moment of utter darkness the Lord brought the Bible story of Hannah and her little Samuel to my mind. I didn’t remember the exact words at the time, but one thing seemed very real to me…Hannah had given her son into the Lord’s hands…to live not with her, but with Him…for Samuel’s whole life. I felt like the Lord was saying to me in that moment, “Will you give your precious son to me?” Will you trust Charlie into My safekeeping…in a painful and profound way…for every moment of his life?” “ Will you do what Hannah chose to do, not because you chose it, but because I have chosen this for you…I have chosen this for him? Because I have chosen to take Charlie’s life.”
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there. -1 Samuel 1:27-28
When we think of what we pray for our children above all else, it is that each of our kids would know the Lord Jesus and walk with him their whole lives. And even though our hearts are breaking, and we would have loved every minute of life with our precious little boy…the dream is the same. Being pregnant with three other kids means you just don’t think about the fourth kid as much as if he were your first, but over the last nine months the one thing we have prayed for most for our sweet Charlie James is that he would know Jesus someday.
Someday came so much earlier than we would have liked. But Someday came.
And so we give our little one over to the Lord, born into the arms of Jesus… for his whole life. I don’t want this. I don’t want this to be God’s will, but I am absolutely convinced that it is. After many blood tests the doctor said he is almost certain that somewhere during Charlie’s 37th week of life, the placenta became unattached from my uterine wall and our Charlie was gone in an instant. Even if I had felt it, even if I had known…nothing could have been done. I have asked God a thousand times “Why?” “Why now?” Why him?” “Why this?” but there is only one answer to that question though we keep on asking. It is the same answer I give my kids when they ask me “Why?” about something and I just need them to trust me…“Because I said so.” Some moments the grief is so utterly overwhelming I don’t even know how we will ever go on through another day of life without our baby boy. But I know that this is our story because God said so…and that though He slay me…though He shatter my dreams, bring to pass my deepest fears, take away what I love most…yet somehow I can really say just as Job once said, “I trust Him.”