I wanted to take a moment to share a few ways that you can be praying for our family right now. “I’ll pray for you” is something that is often thrown around very loosely between people in our culture. But in the last four weeks every time someone has said, “I’m praying for you,” I actually believe them. Often it has been said through tears, and I know that while almost none of you have directly experienced the devastating sorrow we are walking through…I truly believe that when you say you’ll pray…you pray for us. And we are so very thankful for you.
It has been four weeks today since our baby Charlie was born. The four longest, darkest, and hardest weeks of our entire lives all packed into one endless month. My baby boy’s precious little body is buried in the dark, cold, ground and I can honestly say that I don’t think this will ever get easier. I know it will change and that this anguish will itself be transformed over the years into a deeper and different kind of sorrow…but there will always be sorrow.
While we were at the hospital the nurses took an imprint of Charlie’s precious feet to give to us. I can’t even look at the tiny impression of his baby toes without sobbing, even now. I had dreams of seeing those baby footprints scattered wildly all over the sand at Avila Beach. I had wanted to see his wet and sudsy little footprints covering our floors after crazy bath times with his big brother and sisters. I had plans to tickle those tiny toes…not bury them in the cold, unfeeling ground. I spent eight months dreaming about seeing my baby boy’s footprints, fingerprints, and life prints everywhere…and now they are almost no where to be found. And they won’t be. Ever.
But they are forever imprinted on my heart. I truly believe that I will look back on my life someday and feel that I was more deeply impacted by baby Charlie’s life than any other. Because Charlie’s life has made me seek the face of God. I’ve earnestly sought God for most of my life, but Charlie’s life has caused me to seek God’s face like it was a matter of life and death. Probably because it’s been a matter of life and death. I’ve loved reading God’s Word for as long as I can remember, but right now I read the Bible as if the words that have the power to keep my heart alive are hidden in there. Most days the crushing weight of sorrow is so heavy that I seriously wonder if I will ever be able to stand up under it. And in those moments, God, through His Word, brings a faint, but visible ray of light into our darkest dark. Maybe someday this will actually look beautiful like Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but it doesn’t right now. For now it is the dark valley of the shadow of death, with temporary pinpricks of light at best. But those pinpricks point us in the direction of our distant Home. And so we desperately ask for your prayers.
For our family: Our kids are doing really, really well. They miss baby Charlie and ask about him, but for children it is very difficult to grasp the magnitude of all that has been lost. This has been much, much harder for us. Grief is just an emotionally and physically exhausting process. Please pray for us that we would have supernatural strength to love our kids and to care for them in the day to day of life. It is a secondary loss that we just don’t have as much to give them as we normally would. We so very badly want to love all four of our kids well, which is so difficult now that 3 are on earth and one is in heaven. I have a tangible, physical ache in my heart that our family is not all together right now. We now live even more with our hearts permanently divided between two places…just as, I guess, all those who believe in Jesus should. Please pray that we would treasure Charlie by grieving and celebrating his life well, and that we would love Sophie, Emma, and Fred by celebrating the time we have been given with them.
For our hearts: There is just so very much to grieve. We are grieving the loss of the baby boy we love. He is our baby and we got eight precious months of life with him. We are grieving the loss of the dreams of life with Charlie and all that we had planned on having with him. No parent says that pregnancy is their favorite time of life with their child…the fun part of living life together hadn’t even begun for us. We are grieving the very difficult and traumatic experience of giving birth to a baby who has already died, and then having to bury him. We are also grieving the loss of a certain innocence that you inherently have when nothing truly tragic and permanently life-altering has ever happened to you.
Most of all, we are grieving the loss of all that we thought we knew of what our life would be like, and all we thought we knew of who our God is. We know that life is God’s to give and God’s to take away, but it breaks every box we humans “put” God in when He does what we never thought He would do, even if we fully knew He could it. We long so much to see God strengthening our faith in Him during this time, and we can see many ways that He already has. But you often have to break a bone to reset it, and in the breaking and the reseting of our faith, our hope, and our love for Him…it is a deeply painful process. It is a great comfort to us that one of the things Jesus said He came to do was to bind up the brokenhearted. And so we surrender daily the lifetime we wanted with sweet Charlie and his tiny prints…and we give God our broken hearts.
So thankful for your prayers,