I wrote this post in May after spending time with my great-grandmother. I never posted. I don't remember why. Here it is:
Today, we spent a few hours with my 90 year old great-grandmother. She is so very precious. We sat with her laughing about the women in the nursing home who try to break out. We laughed about the woman wheeling past with a beeper on her wheelchair. We laughed a lot. And in the midst of the laughter, I saw the pain in her eyes. Here she sat, with the son, wife and daughter of her firstborn, years after she buried him. We talked about her son...my dad's dad. As we talked about his Eagle Scout belongings in the cedar chest, I remembered that I was sitting with a woman who buried her oldest son.
My dad's biological father died when my dad was only four years old. At the time, he had one other younger brother. A few years later, my grandmother remarried. She and Walter went on to have two more boys. My dad calls Walter his dad. It was an uncomfortable moment. I heard the hesitation in my dad's voice as he struggled with how to address his own father. Dad? Jody? How do you approach a situation like that?
Over the past few years, I've come to understand how absolutely precious pregnancy, birth, and motherhood is. Nothing is guarenteed. I've read more blogs than I can count in which women chronicle the lives and deaths of their infants. Sometimes they knew that their child would not live. Other times it was a shock. How do you deal with something like that? And then there are the blogs about the families who give birth to perfectly healthy babies. They treasure them and love them and then find that their precious babies have a tumor determined to take over their tiny body. And then there are the parents who get to raise their children for many many years before cancer or some kind of accident rips them from this world.
It's something parents take for granted- the birth of a healthy baby. I never even realized that the situation could be different until I stumbled upon Angie Smith's blog years ago. I cried with her as she carried her beautiful daughter, knowing full well that she would not stay long in this world. I remember vividly the night that I learned that sweet Tuesday had been healed in Heaven. I have cried so many nights for so many families that I have never met. And suddenly, my perception of parenthood is so very different. How can you take for granted holding and loving and kissing your perfect baby while down the hall, a woman could have just delivered her child and held them as they took their first breath and their last. How can you not think of your healthy infant as a miracle? I hope that I will never take for granted the miracles my children are.
I have two living great-grandmothers. One is 90 and the other is 92. Each has buried a child. And my grandmother held her newborn son until he breathed his last on this Earth. How can you look at a woman the same after you learn that about them? How can you hug them the same way? To have buried a child must be the greatest pain, and how many women are living with it? The woman checking out behind me in line at Target has two precious children in her cart. I smile at her. For a split second, I wonder about her story. Are those the only children she's carried? How many women lie when asked how many children they have? Even my sweet cousin suddenly lost her daughter after 14 months of life to congestive heart failure. I was at that funeral. And how do you move on from something like that? My heart aches just to think about it. Every Christmas, every birthday, another memory with an obvious hole.
I don't know yet why God has put this on my heart. I don't know if I'll lose a baby someday. I don't know if I'll know someone who does. I do know that I serve a God who is good all the time. I believe that God might be preparing me for something. I'm not sure yet what that may be. It is my prayer that I never lose this sense of urgency and compassion to reach out to women in pain. I pray that He would help me to remember that these women will never forget.