Sunday, April 15, 2012

Upon those in the tombs...

...bestowing life.

Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

Pascha is a poignant time for most who have lost babies or children. We desperately want our babies with us to celebrate Pascha and their absence is a gaping wound. I've had just as many painful and at times, bitter, thoughts about missing my two boys this year as have anyone so I feel like the blind leading the blind by saying this. Innocent would have been over six months old and Andrew would have been due in 6 weeks. The truth is, Christ has risen from the dead! He has trampled down death! Because He joined the divine to the human in Himself incarnate and voluntarily died for our sins, our human nature is elevated to the divine. No longer do we die when we die - our souls are joined to God. Our babies passed directly from us to the arms of Christ without pause. Their bodies do see corruption in the grave, but even those will be resurrected on the last day and reunited with their souls. God did not make us for death, for hell. He made us for eternal life with Him.

We will go to the cemetery this afternoon after Agape Vespers and sing "Christ is risen!" to our boys, but they already experience eternal Pascha. We weep for us, not them. The empty tomb is a symbol of hope, not desolation.

May the resurrected Lord comfort all of you today and every day.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Savannah's Song

I have added Savannah's Song to the blog list. Savannah died this past December, just before 19 weeks, due to a band around her umbilical cord. Her mother started a blog and is just now sharing it publicly. Savannah's birth story is also now in the "Your Stories" section.

Thank you, Caroline, for sharing your sweet Savannah with us. May her memory be eternal!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One Year

One year ago today my son Innocent was born. Here is the letter I wrote him this morning:

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My dear Innocent,

Happy birthday! Your birthday into heaven has already happened and I guess for you this day last year was rather anticlimactic, to say the least. It was a little different for me, of course.

When you departed this life, the only witnesses were the angels. I still wonder what I was doing at that moment. It's not profitable to speculate. It would be nice to think I was thinking about you, but the truth is I thought of you often. I prayed for you and loved you. You were always safe and loved.

When we were told you were already gone, there were witnesses: your father, two grim-faced nurses and a pregnant doctor. There had already been dozens of witnesses in the clinic to my pain, because I knew what was coming and couldn't pretend I didn't. You were far from there, not sharing in our pain, which is a comfort to me. That moment is one I would completely erase from my memory if I could.

The night you were born, however, the only witness was your mother. Your brothers and sisters were asleep, Papa was in the next room listening out in case I needed help, the rest of the world was unaware. But I was there, the only witness to your birth. I can understand why someone who has not experienced the birth of a child already departed would think this is crazy, but the truth that the moment you first meet your baby is a magical one still holds, even when the soul is gone. I was so relieved that your body was well preserved, that you were so beautiful. You would have been beautiful to me anyway, but at least it didn't look like you had suffered.

The moment when I laid eyes on you, time stood still. It was as if even the angels held their breaths. I can't even describe it. When your older brothers and sisters were born there was always a commotion, always a flurry of activity. They cried and kicked and I was in a haze of pain. When you were born there was perfect silence. No movement. No bright lights, shining instruments, no presence of strangers.

Just you and me and the angels.

Happy birthday, my love.

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Only nine days later I opened this blog. I felt it was that important. I hope it has been a source of help and encouragement and even healing to those who have come across it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Two Minutes

 I came across an article by Marshall Shelley entitled Two Minutes to Eternity about the birth and death of his son Toby. While his wife Susan was pregnant the doctor diagnosed their son with problems deemed incompatible with life. They were asked what they wanted to do. 

"It's likely the fetus will spontaneously miscarry. If the child is born, it will not survive long outside the womb. You need to decide if you want to try to carry this pregnancy to term."
 
We both knew what he was asking. I was speechless. Susan found her voice first. Though shaken by the news, she said softly but clearly, "We believe God is the giver and taker of life. If the only opportunity I have to know this child is in my womb, I don't want to cut that time short. If the only world he is to know is the womb, I want that world to be as safe as I can make it."

She carried her son to term. When he was born he lived for two minutes. 

"Do you have a name for the baby?" asked one of the nurses.

"Toby," Susan said. "It's short for a biblical name, Tobiah, which means 'God is good.' "

We had long thought about the name for this child. We didn't particularly feel God's goodness at that moment. The name was what we believed, not what we felt. It was what we wanted to feel again someday.

The words of C.S. Lewis, describing the lion Aslan, kept coming to mind: "He's not a tame lion. But he's good." We clung to that image of untamed and fearsome goodness, even as we continued to struggle with the question: Why would God create a child to live two minutes?

Their grief was only to increase. Only a few short months later, one of their daughters, severely mentally retarded, died just before her second birthday. 

All of us who have suffered the loss of a child, either before or after birth, have wondered that at some point. Why does God create a person who will die so soon? Before even drawing breath? Eventually, Marshall and his wife found the answer:

Why did God create a child to live two minutes?

He didn't.

He didn't create Toby to live two minutes or Mandy to live two years. He didn't create me to live 40 years (or whatever number he may choose to extend my days in this world).

God created Toby for eternity. He created each of us for eternity, where we may be surprised to find our true calling, which always seemed just out of reach here on earth.