“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

I have too many heart-responses to this at once. I read the first chapter online while waiting for my book to arrive. When I finished, I dropped my head to my desk and wept. All the memories came flooding back, and more than once while reading I backed away from my desk as though I’d touched something hot. It hurt, this searing of scar tissue and pulling of scales from eyes.

I don’t want to remember what it felt like to feel a baby drop from my body like something unwanted and meaningless. I named him/her Jamie in my semi-knowing in the paleness of a tiny bathroom before the tingling feeling came and it all went black.

Eleven months later I sat in a wheelchair by the hospital curb, the previous year playing out in my head like a nightmare on the big-screen. A precious little girl. We had two beautiful sons, and the four of us couldn’t wait to hold her. Heather Rose was the delight of our lives from the moment she was born. Ten hours later she was gone, stolen by a virus she just couldn’t beat.

I sat there holding her for a long time after her sweet little spirit floated heavenward. I remember thinking if I just loved her enough and held her close enough to me she would take a breath and turn pink and live. The questions weren’t forming yet. I was still numb. They wouldn’t come until a few days later when I calmly asked my best friend to please, please help me die. Her face contorted into an image of sadness I won’t ever forget. I choked out that I just couldn’t let my sweet baby go without me, that it had to be dark, and she had to be scared, and what mama lets her baby go into a dark hole without trying to follow her?

The hard questions came next, the why and the how-could-this-happen and the what-sense-does-this-make and all the anger that sets in when the answers don’t come.

But before that, I sat on the curb and watched all the families leave with their flowers and their balloons and their pink-cheeked babies fully alive and dressed in outfits they had picked out special and laid aside waiting for that moment. I’ve never felt so alone.

I didn’t want to remember those things here at my desk reading that first chapter of a book by a woman I’d only just recently heard of. Heather Rose would be turning 21 in a couple of months. Why exhume such gut-wrenching ache after all this time?

I am praying I find out why in the pages of this book. I am believing that I will. I’m looking for the pinholes, and one of the most overwhelming things about all of this for me is reading all these words, these responses, these hearts poured into space for us each to read and know that we are anything but alone. This is a seed that even now springs forth with pale green hope.

Thank you rings so empty. But I do.

Seed: I’m having a hard time narrowing down the seed. It feels too big, or something. Too broad. Maybe there are just too many seedlings. One thing that stands out for me is this gripping sense of injustice at the tragedies that befall us, the magnitude of the losses in this life. When I lost Heather, suddenly nothing made sense about life. If a beautiful little baby could die in her mother’s arms, if a mother could be faced with offering her child up to Jesus with trembling arms and empty everything, there was nothing fair or right about life. It made everything feel empty and dark and devoid of meaning.

Water: Through the years since losing Heather, God has shown me in ways I can’t describe that He has never left me. He has, true to Romans 8, that He can and will use all things for my good. Even the losses. Even the emptiness that couldn’t be worded when my arms literally ached to hold my baby for weeks after she was buried in that tiny white box.in the Nursery section of the Limona Cemetery on a breezy April afternoon. He showed me that there is a strange logic in how illogical it is to bury our babies.

There is logic in the backwardness and the wrongness of pain and loss, because everything in this life has been upside-down since the Garden. Like maybe it might help just a little to know that it wasn’t supposed to be this way but because of the Fall this emptiness has become our logic. It’s what happens when we are separated from our Creator. Rocks cry out and clouds billow and veils are rent and babies go white and hang limp in mothers’ arms.

Bloom: The one hope that springs forth pale and green from the soil for me is knowing that one day this will all make sense. One day I will see the tapestry from the other side and all the threads will fit together without tangling and knotting and there will be beauty for ashes. In the now, I wait along with everyone else for His coming, for all to be made right. And while I wait, I try to keep singing, even when the notes are raw and ragged and when sometimes no music comes forth at all. I have to believe He still hears me trying, and in that alone it is my prayer that I can make Him smile.


10 thoughts on “Chapter 1: Empty Arms Always Reach

  1. Awww, Sis, another day of tears for us both. You know my heart enough to know how your words here have touched me. Almost 21 years for you and almost 18 for me, yet the hurt is as close as yesterday. It is like knowing that many do understand our grieving hearts, yet at the same time no one does and we feel alone. And the One that could have prevented it didn't and that leaves a huge "why" where our babies should be.I think that this study is going to unlock a lot of answers for both of us, on many levels. I agree that some day all of this will make sense and we will be with Jamie, Heather, Dorian and all of the others again.May Our Father be with those that are watching us take this tearful journey.

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