If she had lived...dare I even go down that fork in the road again? When I do, I contemplate how old she would have been, what kind of friendship she would have had with her big sister and now with her little brother, what foods she would have liked, what a difference she would have made in our family. But that fork in the road always ends the same way. With a wall and a U-turn sign reminding me that there is no Would Have Been, only What Was and What Is.
What Was was awful and terrible and painful and hard and something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. What Was was days of anguish and nights of sleeplessness followed by months of questioning my faith and my God, of seeking for some solid place where I could still find my footing in the quicksand of my grief. I found it, finally, in Psalm 139 on a rock called God's Love. I clung to it during What Was, desperate not to lose myself and my faith along with my babies. The memory of the darkness of What Was connects me to other parents of babies in Heaven. What Was changed me...forever.
What Is, amazingly and inexplicably, is good. What Is is purpose found in the middle of the mess. It is peace - peace beyond understanding - with the twists and turns my life has taken. What Is is the irony and crazy contradiction of realizing that although I would have done anything to save my babies, I would also now never pull them away from the glories of Heaven, even if I could (although it is probably good that I will never be put to the test on that one).
What Is is a marriage strengthened, a ministry born, a faith renewed, and some amazing friendships grown. What Is is a fresh understanding of the real-ness of Heaven, of God's goodness in spite of circumstances, and of how His grace and mercy are remarkably revealed within our circumstances. What Is reminds me that the darkness did lift, and that by the grace of God, I did, and do, survive. More than survive - I thrive in the life that God has given me - all of it. It gives me hope for the future, a hope that I can share with others.
Five years ago, God led us on a journey. What Was is, mercifully, in the past. What Is propels me forward. What Will Be is still hidden in the shadows, but they are shadows tinged with a glorious light - a light in which my children in Heaven dwell and where I, by God's grace, will one day live as well. May God fill each of us on the journey this side of Heaven with wisdom and strength to steward our stories well for His glory.
I don't normally ask this, but if Naomi's life has touched you in any way, would you consider helping the Naomi's Circle ministry? We especially need help, both financial and practical, with our Mommy to Mommy Outreach that provides care packages to bereaved parents in local hospitals and doctors' offices so those parents know that they are not alone. You can find out how to help here. If you choose to honor our daughter in this way, thank you from the depths of our hearts!