As you may or may not be aware, this past Thursday, October 15th, was national Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In fact, in October of 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed that all of October be recognized as a month to honor and remember those babies who have been lost, and the families that lost them. (And I know it may seem that there is an “awareness day” for pretty much everything under the sun, but for those to whom those days apply, they are deeply meaningful, so please be respectful.)
For me, October 15th is almost an afterthought as my eyes stare anxiously at two days later. October 17, 2012 was the due date given for my precious first daughter, Eva Naomi. But that was never to be.
There are many details surrounding her life and death that I desire to share, but will have to wait for another time. Today I just want to focus on the beauty of walking through death, as I have seen it.
Before losing Eva, I have never known a pain the cuts so deeply…nor a God who could heal so intimately. In the days and weeks that followed, at the suggestion of a few people, I began keeping a journal that became a mix of letters to my baby, prayers to God, and Scriptures that seemed to speak to me. (By the time I was done, I may or may not have copied almost all of the Bible!) A few weeks in, after yet another failure by what has to be the world’s most incompetent hospital, I wrote these words in that journal, confident that God was reading over my shoulder:
“He was either unwilling or unable to keep you in my womb…what kind of loving Father God is He anyway??”
And in writing these words, I teetered on whether or not I could trust God anymore – and strongly leaning towards “not.” But what I noticed when I looked back at my journal a few weeks later, after that heart-wrenching (and I’ll admit, dramatic) accusation against God’s love, the many pages that followed were filled with verse after verse and promise after promise straight from His word. Maybe God was loving after all.
In John 6, after hearing too many “hard” teachings, many who had been following Jesus turned away from walking with Him. Then in verse 67, Jesus addresses His disciples and says, “Do you want to go away as well?” In verse 68, Peter responds, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” This is exactly where I found myself. I could choose to no longer trust God, but where else would I go?? He had shown me, through my own journaling, that I still desired and desperately needed the “words of eternal life.”
As I wrestled and journeyed (and continue to journey) with God, I began to see the beauty that He was creating in this immeasurable void in my life. No matter how much my dear husband desired to smooth the pain, though he was carrying pain, too, this was too much for any person to salve. Only God, who is the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3), could comfort, heal, and restore.
Many say that “time heals all wounds.” I’m here to tell you that is false. Though it has been three years, there are days the pain is just as intense as it was the very first day. Only God can heal. Only God can comfort. And only God can bring beauty out of ashes.
Sanctification is a weird thing sometimes. I know it probably makes no sense to many, but I will often say that I am closer to God now and love and trust Him more because of the death of my daughter. We named her Eva Naomi because that name means “living” and “beautiful.” And because of the promises of God’s Word, we know she is exactly that: living and beautiful. More alive than we have ever been and more beautiful than we could ever imagine!
So today, on the third anniversary of her due date, we have no parties to finalize or gifts to wrap, but instead will spend some time next to the tiniest grave that ever existed, remembering the few months we had with her and thanking God for His beautiful grace on our lives.
What about you? How have you seen God come through in the midst of tragedy? What is your story of beauty in loss? Please share it, because someone needs to hear it!