JANUARY 11, 2004: “Hello, Goodbye” …

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How could I have imagined that on this bright, crisp morning I would leave my house blissfully fat and pregnant only to return two days later once again empty and shattered? At a little more than halfway through my pregnancy, I woke up with what I thought were only cramps. I wasn’t too worried though, and in fact, had even tried convincing my husband, who wanted to take me to the hospital just to be safe, that I was fine and could wait until Monday to see the doctor. We had finally gotten settled into the new house, and on this particular Sunday there were NFL playoffs that I didn’t want him to miss. He was exhausted from the move and deserved a day off, and I knew that even a “quick trip” to the ER could possibly mean hours of our Sunday, and I just didn’t think it was necessary.

I thought about calling my parents, but opted not to worry them unnecessarily, as I truly believed that everything was fine and didn’t want to wake them. When we got to the hospital, we waited to be seen for almost an hour, all the while, my pain continually increasing. By 9am, I decided to go ahead and have him call my parents since they were probably awake by then, just to keep them in the loop. He never actually spoke to them, though, but instead, an aunt who was visiting at the time got the message. He told her what was happening and asked her to let them know, but also that everything was probably fine and we’d call them when we got home.

While Pete was on the phone, I’d gone to the restroom. No sooner did the door shut behind me did I realize that something was really wrong. As I walked back out towards Pete, I collapsed in the lobby and was soon being rushed to the ER. Meanwhile, against my instance to the contrary, my parents had already left their house which was just a few miles from the hospital.

Ten minutes later, and not less than two minutes before I delivered her, my Mother found her way to my room. There she stood holding my right hand while Pete was holding my left when Gina Marie, our precious baby girl, graced us all with her brief but powerful presence. She was 9 inches long and weighed just over a pound.

The few hours she lived were the longest of my life, and there are no words to describe my anguish. The baby I had prayed desperately for on my literal hands and knees had been cruelly ripped from my womb and now I held her broken little body in my arms. She kept trying to hold on to my finger, but her tiny hand was too small to grasp it. I couldn’t take my eyes off her as I helplessly watched her gasping for air and struggling to live, then watched her take her very last breath.

I struggled for so long to find a single good thing that came from all that heartache and trauma, as it is something I will truly never understand. But what I can tell you is that there in that otherwise frigid hospital room, racked with grief and agony in my very darkest of hours, I had never felt so truly loved. How blessed was I to be surrounded by all the people I loved and cared for the most and who loved me in all the best ways they knew how? My husband, who after all he went through to bring that little girl into my life, and who despite my best efforts to push him away never once in our lifetime together at that point had ever physically left my side. My father, who despite his shortcomings, did seem to love me in all the best ways he knew how, and despite our many battles, I know would have traded his life for my daughter’s in that moment. My sister and one true and unconditional rock, there at the foot of my bed on her hands and knees sobbing inconsolably for the indescribable pain that I was in, that if she could have, I know she would have taken from me. And, of course, my beautiful mother who has loved me all the days of my life and I was blessed to have standing beside me when each of my children came into this world, and then again when one of them left it.

As for God? While of course, at the time I couldn’t exactly feel Him, every single shred of my being knows that He was there in that room with me leaving His footprints in my sand. He was weeping as He was holding me as I was weeping and holding her as she was dying in my arms during this, the most bittersweet moment of my life. After all those years of praying for a baby, I’d gotten an angel instead, and although it would take years for me to make true peace with having to bury my own child, I learned that her death was really nothing at all, she’d spend both of our eternities watching me through her supernova telescope, and that the pain of losing her would eventually become one of my greatest gifts of all.

HELLO, GOODBYE

Where’s the Navigator of your destiny? Where is the Dealer of this hand? Who can explain life and its brevity, ’cause there is nothing here that I can understand. You and I have barely met, and I just don’t want to let go of you yet. Noah, hello, good-bye. I’ll see you on the other side. Noah, sweet child of mine. I’ll see you on the other side. And so I hold your tiny hand in mine for the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face. Heaven calls for you before it calls for me. When you get there save me a place. A place where I can share your smile and I can hold you for more than just awhile. Noah, I’ll see you on the other side. {Michael W. Smith}