Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Tiny Hand

A Tiny Hand

A tiny hand we'll never hold,
a child without a name,
Your coos and giggles
won't touch our ears,
but we loved you just the same.
The twinkle in your little eyes
was not for us to see.
We longed to hold you in our arms,
but it never came to be.
God now holds your tiny hand;
He's given you a name.
Your coos and giggles grace Heaven's ears,
but we'll miss you, just the same.
The twinkle in your little eyes,
now lights the sky at night.
God holds you close in loving arms,
you're always in His sight.
A tiny hand we'll never hold,
we have no reason why,
but we'll always hold you in our heart,
Even though we said good-bye.

--Denise Hanstad--

It was ten years ago today - April 20, 2001, that we said good-bye to our fourth child. And while the hurt has healed in the ensuing decade, it's a date forever embedded in my heart - a date that belongs to a little one whose hand we'll never hold.

This fourth child of ours doesn't have a name, but he has a story and a place in our family history. We only knew of his existence for a few days. I was surprised when, the day after Easter, I discovered that I was pregnant. We had tried to conceive a few months earlier, without success. But we had stopped trying because we didn't want to have another baby born in the fall (which is humorous, given the rest of the story, that came much later!). But the surprise quickly gave way to joy and I was delighted to be planning for this fourth child. I immediately began thinking about names and bedroom arrangements. Knowing I would be delivered at exactly 36 weeks, I flipped through the calendar, and was able to determine that he would probably be born on Nov. 30th. Our third son would be 2 1/2 at the time of the new baby's birth and that was good spacing, in my mind. We were set!

And amidst all my planning, I fell in love with this new baby inside me. It was so exciting to wonder who he would be, who he would look like, what his strengths would be. I couldn't wait for fall, when I'd meet him for the first time.

And then, just a few days later I started to bleed. And within a few hours, a very unsympathetic ER doc confirmed what I already knew - our baby was no longer with us. In many ways, it's hard to describe the feelings that followed. I felt very hollow and I told myself that it was ok - it was just one of those things that happen, you know? I didn't have any control over it, although I secretly felt like I had failed to keep my baby alive and safe. I went about my day, as normal. My brother had unexpectedly dropped in the night before, so I busied myself in the kitchen, preparing a company meal.

That night I even went to the school building where our church held Awana meetings for kids. We hadn't announced the pregnancy yet, so nobody knew. But Paul shared the news with some. I was walking down the hallway and one of the women from our church - my age - called out to me, scurried up, and asked how I was doing. She had heard, and having lost two babies herself, was concerned. I turned to her...and I lost it. For the first time that day I sobbed. I cried for the next hour straight as friends held me and wept with me. I will never forget that night for as long as I live.

And for the next few weeks, I lived in the shadows of grief. I physically hurt as the miscarriage took place and I felt emotionally eviscerated. A part of my heart had died that Friday in April. For the first time, I knew what it was to be truly broken-hearted.

I remember, wondering, too, at the depth of my grief. After all, we had only known of this baby for a few days. Shouldn't the hurt be proportionate to the length of time we knew? I have friends who miscarried repeatedly; it only happened to me once. I have friends who carried babies to term - and then had to give them back. My loss couldn't even begin to compare. But my heart didn't understand that. And so I mourned.

And, eventually, the tears did dry. As spring bloomed, I began to look with anticipation to the next child God would send, because after all, now He "owed" us another baby! And those of you who know the rest of our story, know that that didn't work out as planned! For the next 6 years God would take me down paths I didn't want to go, as He taught me numerous lessons and reshaped my attitudes about family planning, submission to God's will, and being thankful in all circumstances.

On this side of things now, I can say I'm thankful that things happened as they did. At the time of the miscarriage, we were very firmly set on the idea of having 4 children (all to born within our own specified time-table, of course!). Had we not lost that baby, we would never have known our precious Samuel, who didn't come to us until 2007. And I might still be believing that my life was mine to plan and to own.

But still...every April 20th, I pause and remember the child we'll never hold here on earth, the child whose laughter is, no doubt, ringing across the streets of Heaven. If he's anything like his brothers, he probably has the angels shaking their heads, the peaceful lambs and lions looking for a quieter place to lay down, and God Almighty chuckling at his antics.

I miss him.

1 comment:

  1. Love you Sarah...and I know. One day we will all be together and I honestly will find you, and you find me...and we can just rejoice with each other while we see our children play.

    There’s a land that is fairer than day,
    And by faith we can see it afar;
    For the Father waits over the way
    To prepare us a dwelling place there.

    In the sweet by and by,
    We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
    In the sweet by and by,
    We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

    We shall sing on that beautiful shore
    The melodious songs of the blessed;
    And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
    Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

    To our bountiful Father above,
    We will offer our tribute of praise
    For the glorious gift of His love
    And the blessings that hallow our days.