I have always admired the strength and faith of Christy, one of my closest friends. We met several years ago and connected because we both had miracle micro preemie boys born only a day apart. Her son, Mason, was born 13 weeks premature, and my son, Hayden, was born 12 weeks early. Christy’s joyful story, however, cannot be told without remembering the loss of her daughter, Alexis. You see Mason was a twin, and although he survived, his precious sister did not. I have often viewed her as the pillar of Christian faith for I believe a true test of faith is someone who embraces God despite great tragedy in life. I looked at Christy as this amazing Christian woman who survived something I never could–the loss of a child.
We do not openly admit our fears as adults, but I will share with you mine. I was always terrified of losing one of my precious children. Maybe I had this fear a little more than any other parent because I worked so hard to have each of my children. For my first born, Hayden, I spent 8 weeks in the hospital with the doctors trying to prevent my son from coming too early. I viewed it as a miracle from God that I was able to make it to the 28th week of my pregnancy. Once born, my son spent the first 8 weeks of his life in the NICU growing strong enough so that my husband and I could take him home. Hayden is my first and glorious miracle from God. My second born, Maddie, was another fierce test of endurance. At my 16th week, my husband, Jeff, rushed me to the hospital because I was having painful contractions. Once at the ER, the doctor parked me in the hallway and told me there was nothing he could do. He said nature simply had to take its course. My husband and I embraced each other and cried and prayed together. Miraculously, the contractions stopped, and I was released from the hospital. As a precaution, my perinatologist placed me on bed rest for the next 5 months. This was a very difficult and stressful time for my husband, son, and me, but we survived. And more importantly, so did my daughter. This time I made it to my 36th week. Maddie is my second miracle and gift from God.
My family’s third miracle was our precious Emma. After having our son, my husband and I were very worried about having another micro preemie. We had always wanted a big family so I brought up the idea of adoption to Jeff. He embraced the idea, and we eagerly signed up for an adoption seminar with our local adoption agency. After much prayer, we decided to adopt Internationally, and we completed all the necessary paperwork. We were told that we would have our child within 6 to 12 months by our adoption agency, and in three months time, we were matched with our angel Emma. From here, however, our adoption process came to a complete halt. Our 6 to 12 month time frame stretched into 2 and a half years of red tape. Throughout this process, we never gave up hope, and we had many people praying for our Emma to come home to us. During our wait for Emma to come home, Jeff and I were surprised by my pregnancy with Maddie. We often said during this time that Maddie was a blessed distraction from the sluggish and stressful process of trying to get Emma home to us.
Our third miracle and gift from God was when we received the notice that our Emma could finally come home. We were thrilled to have our family complete and our second daughter home with us. Emma immediately embraced myself, my husband, and our two other children. In fact, Hayden and Emma were instant best friends and did everything together. Our joy, however, was to be short lived for Emma’s time with us was very brief. After only being part of our family for 8 months, Emma was seriously injured in a fall. Once again, our family and friends gathered to support us in prayer as they had with Hayden and Maddie. We pleaded for one last miracle, but it was not meant to be. Our precious Emma passed two days after the accident. I found myself shocked and drowning in sorrow. I never felt anger at God, but I felt abandoned. Did I ask for too much? Was I being selfish asking for another miracle? He had given us so much already. Was I not thankful enough for all that He had given my family and blessed us with? I was so confused. Why was this happening to our family?
It has now been over four years since our Emma went to heaven. It has been an incredibly hard journey, and we have felt unimaginable grief. But, we have not been through this journey of healing alone. We have felt God’s presence in our lives, and he has sent our community and friends to embrace us. Where was God in all our pain and sorrow? Right beside and watching over us. He brought us comfort and helped mend our broken hearts when we could not see past the pain. He was there when my dear friend, Christy, made all the funeral arrangements for us, sent the e-mails notifying our friends, and led us through this path she had once walked. God spoke to our friend Brooke and led her to gather our neighborhood community of friends to raise the money to cover all the funeral costs and medical bills for Emma so that our family would not have to suffer financially. God was guiding each of our friends, neighbors, and even strangers who sent us cards with words of comfort and promises of prayers. God’s love was also in our community of friends and neighbors who daily brought us meals for three months to nourish my family when I could barely take care of myself. He was in the arms of the friends who were always there to just hold me when I was overwhelmed with heartache and tears. He was also working to lead my friend Stephanie to start a prayer group who met weekly for months to just pray for our family. He was there when one of my friend’s called me to tell me to look outside at the most amazing double rainbow that stretched over our neighborhood. It was so glorious that the rainbow even made the local news. (I have never seen a more vibrant and perfect rainbow in my life!) My husband, children, and I ran outside to see God’s beautiful artwork. Once outside, my son started jumping up and down saying that the rainbow was from Emma. Afterward, he ran inside and recreated the rainbow with crayons and wrote a beautiful prayer on his paper. God was with us when Emma’s preschool planted a Weeping Cherry Tree in her honor in the preschool garden with a memory stone placed underneath and again when the preschool dedicated their Christmas tree in her honor. They called it Emma’s Angel Tree and each of the teachers made different angel ornaments in memory of her. The tree was placed in the city’s Christmas Tree display for all to see. God was also there when my friends raised the money to buy three beautiful hand painted bronze butterflies to be placed on Emma’s headstone. One butterfly to represent each of our beautiful children. My dear friend Christy knew I had been saving to buy these, and she reached out to our network of friends and raised the money to have these placed on what would have been Emma’s fourth birthday. God was also there when my girlfriends reached out to me and had a special remembrance and prayer gathering on the one year anniversary of Emma’s death. His presence was there as we prayed and remembered the special girl that Emma is.
The presence of our Glorious God is with us now as his perfect plan unfolds for The Children’s Park of Georgia. I know that it will bring such great comfort and peace to many. I look forward to recognizing and celebrating the lives of ALL my children there. The precious time we have with them is truly a blessing