Today, we said goodbye to another little one who looked like us. Another baby who, if given enough time, would have had Mommy’s chin, and Daddy’s cheeks, and dark brown hair…like all our little ones do.
On the night Charlie died, as I laid awake in the hospital room waiting for labor to start, I kept asking myself, “If I could not keep this baby…would it really have been easier if God had taken him away sooner?” The immediate answer is yes. A thousand times yes. Because eight months is just such a LONG time to have hope.
When a woman has a miscarriage and people ask her, “How far along were you?” what they are really asking is, “How long did you have hope?” How long did you have hope that this little person would be coming home to live with you? How long did you dream about names, and plan a nursery, and start rebuilding your whole life around the arrival of a new tiny person? How long did your dream of loving this little person grow? And I can honestly say, it is so, so very much harder…the longer you have hope.
But any amount of time you hope…you hurt.
A miscarriage is hard, because we didn’t even know if this little person was a boy or a girl. Losing Charlie was so hard…because we did know. I know, every day of my life, that Freddo is missing a little brother. Holding the tiny body, and knowing the actual name, and seeing the very face of the little person who is missing from our home is so unspeakably hard.
Not knowing is hard too. I don’t know if we lost a little girl who would have loved pink tutus, and toddling after her big sisters…or if we lost a baby boy who would have finally been the little brother Freddo has so desperately wanted to play with. We just don’t know. And so, we live in what we do know. We call this little one “Baby Zeller” because all we know for sure is that this little person whose tiny heartbeat we saw a week ago…is one of us.
Today, we went to the cemetery to have a little memorial service for Baby Zeller. I was struck by how much has changed both around us and in us since the last time we were there.
The beautiful green hills that stood tall and silent as we buried baby Charlie’s tiny body…are summer brown now.
The balloon our kids sent off into the sky…was red today, instead of Charlie’s blue. I had never, ever wanted to buy another balloon.
And our sweet children, whose lives have been filled with so very much sorrow, are a little taller and more grown-up looking than when we were there a few months ago.
And what of their souls? Their souls are different too.
Yesterday, Emma came into our room and saw us crying. The very first thing she asked was, “Did the baby die?” I cannot tell you how much it hurts my heart that our sweet girl would know to ask this the moment she saw our tears.
But what are you going to do? Should we just teach our kids (and ourselves for that matter) to never, ever dare to love any one again? To never, ever have hope of a person coming to live with you…just because God could end up having a different plan than the one you had wanted? That would be an ugly, and unfortunate way to live.
And so, we chose to live in a world where we love, regardless of the risk. Because the moment you open yourself up to that risk…is the moment that you have just invited either the hardest sorrow…or the sweetest gift…into your lives. And I’m here to say friends, YOU do not get to chose which way it’s going to go. You cannot just “pray” a baby into existence. We prayed every day for this little person. You cannot just strong arm God and pray Him into your will.
And you can’t just “doctor” a baby into existence either. Charlie died because my placenta, spontaneously, without any warning or ability to prevent it, completely broke away from my body. This sweet baby, didn’t even have a placenta yet. I had already had more blood tests, more ultra sounds, and more doctors visits at eight weeks in the womb than any woman I know, because I really believe we are called to do all that we can do. But when God says how something is going to be…there is absolutely none who can stop Him. I have read a letter sent to me (via a friend) by the leading expert in the nation on placental abruptions and he said, “At the end of the day, some of this, just comes down to God.”
We knew that going into this pregnancy what we were really saying was, “God, I will trust you…though we have no idea whether another heartbreak or another joy is waiting for us at the end of this nine-month road.” We just didn’t know.
No matter who you are…you just don’t know.
To love is to risk. Before the womb. In the womb. After the womb. Love is a risky business. Because to love is to willingly sit in the not knowing. To love is to cling to the God who actually gave us this life, and actually had the power to do whatever He believed would best glorify Himself with it. In the end, that is what happens in every single one of our lives. God does, what God has deemed best. And none of us…will live one day past that. And we believe that God, no matter what He choses, is still good.
I was reminded of this as Reid and I read Lamentations chapter 3 this morning together. You can almost still see the tear marks on these pages of the Bible as Jeremiah wrote these ancient words…
“Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (3:37-38)
“For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he CAUSE grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” (3:31-33)
And my favorite of all…
“But this I recall to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” (3:22-24)
I was also reminded today that God is still God, and God is still near… from something even more simple. As we celebrated Baby Zeller today our family sang a few of the kid’s favorite lullabies together. I am so thankful for the sweet reminder of what is true, in the simple beauty of a children’s song…
Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong.
I know exactly how weak and fragile a tiny baby is. I have now buried two.
And after the last four months of suffering, I know how weak and fragile we “big people” actually are too.
I am so very thankful to belong to Him. I am so very thankful that He is a good and loving Father, and that my little ones…belong to Him. I am so very thankful for the only real hope I have in my life…the hope that Someday when I meet Him…I will finally meet them too.
The Jesus who loves them.
The Jesus who wrote me this whole big Book telling me so.
The Jesus who is strong, and holding my little ones safe in His arms.