Monday, December 3, 2007
Entering the darkness
My dear, dear friends, I have put off writing since Poppy’s birth because my heart is so full and near to bursting in so many areas that I don’t really know where to begin. I long to share with you what has taken place over the last 48 hours, but how can I use words to paint any kind of picture that would come close to giving the reality justice? Nothing in my life up to this point is comparable to the past two days that God has carried us through. Indescribable happiness, joy, and fulfillment have been inextricably woven with grief, sadness, and loss. These intense emotions don’t seem to be compatible, yet they have existed side by side in our hearts throughout our stay in the hospital.
Poppy’s life is like a dream in so many ways. Her three hours here on this earth were so full yet so short! She was the answer to every single prayer that was cried out on her behalf. She was the fulfillment of a promise—a miracle in every way. Never have I seen God’s faithfulness shine more vividly than it did for those precious three hours Poppy was with us. I want you to know that her time here with us was not marred by a single second of sadness. All fear and uncertainty about her future was driven from my heart and mind from the second she began breathing on her own outside of my womb. I knew that she was sick, and I knew we still had no idea how long she would be with us, yet none of that mattered once we had her in our arms. All I could do was thank Jesus for her and enjoy her. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed her during those hours. I felt like my heart would explode with love and happiness and joy as I held her or watched other people hold her and love her. Looking back, I would not change one thing because every second we spent with her was so full of life and hope. Darkness was driven from that little room, and while there were certainly tears, all stemmed from joy and thankfulness over the precious miracle that was living and breathing right there with us. To sum it all up, her time with us was perfect.
Just as beautiful as the way she came into the world was the way she left it. I freely admit that her death was something I feared. I have never seen anyone die, much less my own child, and I couldn’t comprehend how I would be able to live through those moments. But once again, just as it has been each step of the way, God provided for us and gave us strength the moment we needed it. All of our friends had just left the room, and someone returned Poppy to my arms. I looked down at her, and in that instant I knew she was gone. Her beautiful eyes, which were opened almost her entire life, were vacant and still. It was not until that moment that grief entered our hearts. Nathan and I, surrounded by our parents and siblings, spent 45 minutes with her as her heart beat slowly faded away. It was bittersweet in every way. My tears flowed as the reality that we were saying goodbye settled over us like a blanket. My heart began to ache with loss as I looked over each of her tiny features and tried to memorize every detail and engrave it into my mind. At the same time, even in the midst of that sorrow, we were overwhelmed with peace. Poppy’s exit from this world was the very essence of peace. She didn’t struggle or experience any kind of pain; she simply took one final breath and went home.
In the hours that followed, the time we had spent with her didn’t seem real. I felt almost like I was replaying scenes from a movie that I had just been to see rather than scenes from my own life. But while it was strange, it was also a very sweet time. I was surrounded by a pervasive calm throughout the rest of Saturday and most of Sunday, and I believe that was a direct result of the countless prayers that you have been lifting up for us. The sense of safety we experienced as we were surrounded by the love and comfort of our friends and family was beautiful. I know that God has set His angels around us to give us a hedge of protection from the violence of the emotions that Satan would like to defeat us with. To be even more specific, I feel like He gave us about 36 hours under the protective blanket of emotional numbness before He allowed us to begin to experience the full weight of her death.
It wasn’t until last night that I felt the corner of that covering being lifted, allowing Nathan and me to begin the grieving process. In the quietness of our room, after all of the many visitors had left for the night, we climbed into the hospital bed together and wept as we clicked through the beautiful pictures that captured almost every moment of Poppy’s life. A physical pain began stabbing in my heart as I processed the reality of the loss. I looked down at my stomach and hated the fact that I no longer had her with me. I miss her; there’s just no other way to say it. I know that her body was not made for this earth, yet it’s still impossible for me not to miss her and want to hold her again. It makes me smile through my tears to think about her being with Jesus, and knowing she is whole and perfect and experiencing even more love than she knew here brings me comfort. But for myself, and for Nathan and Marianna, and all of the rest of our family and friends, I grieve the loss of her presence. I grieve what is not to be, while at the same time rejoicing over what was.
Something that Papa said many times has stayed with me over the past few months. He said “Do not doubt in the darkness what God has shown you in the light.” God has poured out His truth on us over the past months, and I want to cling to that even when it doesn’t seem nearly as clear as it once did. This is a season of darkness, but His love, compassion, and truth is just as real as it has ever been. God allows darkness, and He will bring us out in His own timing, but until then He will keep us safe. He will set me on that rock that is higher than myself.