In response to an initial introduction and the typical inquiries of new acquaintances, I will generally begin by saying that I am married and have four children. In truth, I am a mother of five children. One has gone on before me.
Two years after our fourth child was born, I became pregnant again. It wasn’t an intentional pregnancy, and I was less than excited about the prospect of adding another family member to an already full household. I actually prayed that God might take the child and was even tempted to wonder if ending its life early would be best in light of our circumstances. But, as I sought the Lord and looked into the eyes of the four little pieces of eternity that challenged and blessed me day after day, I came to appreciate that God’s gifts and His plan always far exceed my expectations.
Looking at the sonogram image of the little person I was carrying, one who relied on me for sustenance and protection, my heart quickly softened. What special gift might this one person have to offer? Might he or she have a heart of compassion, a love of art or music, a marvelous, contagious sense of humor, or a tender heart toward God?
As every child had come into our home, the dynamic changed. Our firstborn, Charla, was a little firecracker – inquisitive and smart, a lover of music who gave her heart to the Lord a couple of weeks shy of her 5th birthday. Two years later, Kyle came on the scene – a stubborn, strong-willed little guy who, true to his nature, never gives up. Another two years and Brett came along – easy-going and tender hearted with a quick and irresistible smile, and last but certainly not least, petite, pretty and sweet-natured Amberly joined the crew three years after that. So, now, as my belly began to swell ever so slightly, I began to long to know the little part of me, to welcome him or her into our family.
But, not all was well. My husband was physically ill, and I regretfully had to return to work full-time. For a time I cried every morning as I drove to work, not wanting to leave my little ones behind. My husband had also become demanding, neglectful and verbally abusive, and the stress I carried was at times overwhelming.
At the doctor’s office one afternoon three months into my pregnancy, he ran the sonogram wand over my stomach repeatedly, looking for impressions and listening for the muffled throb of a baby’s heartbeat. Not finding what he expected, he referred me to a specialist. The following morning, I made my way to the specialist’s office alone and just prayed. As much as I thought I was unprepared for this child, I realized that I was really unprepared to not have this child. Lying on the examining room table, the technician lit up the large monitor that stood off to my right side, and I gazed with her at the image that would come into view, then fall away. I caught sight of a perfect little face, tiny eyes, and spindly little limbs with tiny hands and feet. But I neither saw nor heard a heartbeat, though mine intensified until my anxiety gave way to resolve. “You can’t find a heartbeat, can you?” I asked. As gently as she could, she looked me in the eye and said, “No, I’m sorry I can’t.”
I left the doctor’s office with an appointment for a few days hence, when I would have to have the lifeless child, my child, removed from my body. And I felt foolish to think that I could surrender this person so easily. Now that I knew I would never hold my little one, I was crushed by the loss. I got in my car and turned on my CD player. Hillsong’s version of “Shout to the Lord,” was playing, and I just laid my head on the steering wheel and let the tears and the worship flow.
I sing for joy at the work of Your hands. Forever I’ll love you, forever I’ll stand. Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.
The work of His hands. The child was always His; not mine. And I stand on hope of eternity I have in Him. When all things are made right.
After a couple days of recovery, I went on with my life. I had my responsibilities, my four kids to care for and plenty of other challenges on my doorstep. There was little time to grieve.
Many years later, standing in worship at church, the praise band began playing, “Shout to the Lord,” and the memories quickly came flooding back. In those moments, I allowed the Lord to take me there, to acknowledge and grieve what had been lost, when I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “There’s someone here waiting to meet you.” My heart skipped a beat, and then I let the tears fall. Tears of sadness and tears of joy. Believing the words to be true. Imagining my child running with joyful abandon into the arms of my loving Lord.
For this is not all there is. And occasionally I am reminded that someone special is waiting for me. I have no doubt that when that day comes, there will be absolute, immediate recognition as I look into the eyes I have only seen on a monitor, and our embrace will hold in it all the love and affection of two lifetimes apart.
I will continue to look forward to that day. But, until then, I know that my child is in the very best of hands.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed by the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
Copyright 2012, All Rights Reserved