When you were too small to tell me hello,
I knew you were someone I wanted to know.1
I woke up scared, breathing hard and my heart pounding. JT had woken me with a cup of coffee to start my day and he asked what was wrong. I told him that I had just had the most horrible dream. I saw it – the death of our child. My deepest fear. I shook it off and told myself, “It’s just a dream.” But it wasn’t. Not this time.
Later that same day, I started bleeding. I passed it off as nothing to be concerned about, but I knew. I knew it wasn’t okay. I didn’t want to be honest. I didn’t want to admit my lot. My heart began to ache with the cruel reality of loss.
That night as I lay in bed restless and fearful of the future, I heard the gentle voice of Our Father God.
Trust me and Rest.
I got up early to be still. In response to God’s voice the night before I told Him, “I’m doing my best. I want to trust you more. I choose to rest in your sovereignty because there is nothing I can do to control my pregnancy. My heart aches knowing what might be happening. But then I choose to trust and rest and not let anxiety have a foothold.”
I kept waffling back and forth between denial and surrender. I scheduled a late afternoon appointment with my doctor. I had planned to take all of our kids and meet JT there. I hoped Netflix would keep them distracted. While at the school bus pick up, I was honest with my friend, Laura. She didn’t hesitate and promptly buckled my 3 oldest kids into her car so I could go to the appointment with just my unborn child. JT was already waiting when I arrived. The nurse handed him a box of tissues and said, “You’re in charge of these.” He said he knew it was over.
That night we told Kathleen, Simon and JoAnn that their littlest sibling was going to die soon. We cried. We prayed. We trusted God the best we could. I crawled into bed with uncontrollable shivering. I felt the darkness of death so near. The Valley of the Shadow of Death. Exhausted, I fell asleep. Less than an hour later, I startled wide awake with a single pound to my womb that reverberated within my body, soul and spirit. I heard His voice again, gentle and final.
It is finished.
I knew my baby had just died. I felt the crushing darkness and chill of death in my own body, yet not my own death. It was finished for our baby on January 10, 2017 at 11:02 PM. My spirit broke in a posture of surrender.
The next day was a heavy fog. At breakfast, I didn’t have the courage to tell JT that our baby had died in my womb the night before. He called me from work and it all came spilling out in my heaving sobs. He ended the call too quickly and said he had to be somewhere. I didn’t understand why it couldn’t wait but I was too sad to be offended. No less than 7 minutes later he walked through the front door and scooped me up from my heap and held me close. In the stillness we named our unborn baby, Emerson Lee Brady.
Our Father whispered ever so quietly to me.
Your womb is holy.
Out of reverence, I chose to fast from food. I wanted my head to be clear and my spirit to be still during the delivery. The most effective way I know to do this is fasting.
I was brimming with angry whys. Page after page in my prayer journal I unashamedly wrestled with God. I wanted to reconcile the goodness of God that I know to be true from my own rescued and redeemed heart to this deep, deep loss of the death of my child. After hours of desperate prayer and demanding answers, I heard his voice. This time gentle and authoritative.
You cannot see what I see. You do not know what I know.
Humbled and feeling short-sighted, I asked “Where are you in all of this?”
I AM here. I AM here. I am in your womb.
He gave me a vision of the Holy Spirit hovering and moving over the darkness of death in my womb and the remains of my beloved child. Genesis 1:2, “Now the earth [my womb] was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”2
The next evening was the lowest and darkest moment of my life. I was having contractions and other sensations that I have only ever felt during labor and delivery. I heard my mama’s words encouraging me as she had with each of my labors to surrender and not fight. Fighting only makes it more difficult, more painful, more fearful. I lay beside the light of the fireplace on a bed of blankets and surrendered myself to this labor and the harsh reality that I would soon give birth to death.
And I did; the next morning. JT cradled me in his arms as I delivered the remains of our baby in the bathroom. I tenderly placed our baby’s remains piece by piece in a tiny box lined with my favorite t-shirt. I was weeping bitterly. Shaking and angry I said, “This was not God’s design.” No mother should ever have to pick up the pieces of her child’s body. My heart was shattered, cavernous, echoing, aching. Grievously wounded.
I had been violated. I had been robbed. I had been cheated. I had been used. And I knew by whom.
Long before JT and I endured this deep loss, Satan – The Enemy – introduced pride to humanity and we, as a collective whole, have fallen fast and hard. Gullible. Naïve. Fooled. The Enemy successfully tempted the original humanity and in doing so, naturalized the invasive species of sin, pain, disease, evil, decay and death into God’s beautiful Creation. Genesis 3:14-15 “The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you will be punished. From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”3
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”4
We indignantly blame God for all the injustice and evil within humanity and all the while unwittingly disavow the original Enemy who prowls for prey to steal, kill and destroy. John 10:10, I Peter 5:8. It is a pivotal confusion because there is no darkness in God. None. I John 1:8. In the greatest antithesis of all time, God turned the Enemy’s most powerful weapon of death on its head through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus conquered death when he died as humanity’s Savior, Rescuer, and Redeemer. 2 Timothy 1:10, Revelation 1:18, Revelation 12:10-15.
Jesus disarmed the Enemy’s ace, so that physical death is nothing more than a cruel lie. The only thing the Enemy has remaining is a quiver full of core lies that he custom maligns for brutalizing the spirit of each person. I allow the Enemy a win, only when I swallow his lies that destroy my heart with my own pride, bitterness, self-pity, unforgiveness, and judgment. “It is a danger which, they like myself, have long been unaware.”5 He is manipulative, supremely deceptive, subtle, relentless, and cruel. He brings his A-game every day. Be mindfully aware but do not be afraid. He has no ace up his sleeve. He is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44.
The Enemy’s Lie says blame God for all this death, disease and pain. God’s Redemption says I have come to give you abundant life. John 10:10
The Enemy’s Lie says fear and anxiety are inevitable. God’s Redemption says Trust me and Rest.
The Enemy’s Lie says death is final. God’s Redemption says Just not yet. Revelation 21:4,
The Enemy’s Lie says my womb is not good enough. God’s Redemption says Your womb is holy.
The Enemy’s Lie of shame says our baby was not real and was too small to count. God’s Redemption says Do not call anything impure that I’ve made. Acts 10:15
The Enemy’s Lie of coping says live in numbness and denial so it doesn’t hurt. God’s Redemption says I cradle you in my arms and I will take away your pain. Isaiah 40:11 and Revelation 21:3-4
The Enemy’s Lie says the sorrow, pain and grief will suffocate me. God’s Redemption says You will not be consumed. Isaiah 43:2
The Enemy’s Lie says I’ve been abandoned. God’s Redemption says I AM here. Deuteronomy 31:8
The Enemy’s Lie says obsess over your lost child. God’s Redemption says I AM the only One who completes you. Philippians 1:6, Exodus 20:4
The Enemy’s Lie says to push away my husband and his love. God’s Redemption says My darling, come away with me. Song of Solomon 2:10
The Enemy’s Lie says I should be over this by now. God’s Redemption says Be still and rest beside my quiet waters. Psalm 23:2
Friday was a day of promise and clarity and peace.
You were meant to have your child.
You will have all of those things you long for with Emerson. Just not yet.
And so I will not say, “I will never have this or that with Emerson.” I will instead cling to God’s promise of hope and redemption and instead say, just not yet. A lifetime is not too long to wait patiently for the fulfillment of God’s promise to have and hold my Emerson. Make no mistake, no other baby-to-come can redeem the loss of another. Redemption comes only and ever from My Savior.
~ From my journal on January 13, 2017~
It’s less than an hour before Emerson’s end-of-life infant dedication and funeral at the church. I can hardly believe that it is time to prepare for my child’s funeral. My baby’s funeral. My Emerson’s funeral. Even in the midst of all this pain, I will stand and praise Jesus for the gift of Emerson Lee. My heart will one day be fulfilled as Emerson’s mama. Just not yet. I am dressed in cream and lace and pearls because every child of mine will be blessed in a beautiful christening outfit. My heart has been pounding for the last hour. In God’s perfect timing, closure to my pregnancy and Emerson’s connection to life on earth is coming together in harmony. The end is near. I can feel it. Death is being released from my body. Stand down Satan. I have heard you and felt you mocking me today. You are a defeated foe. The battle is already won and Almighty God is victorious. I see you for who and what you are. And I am no longer blind, fooled and tricked. You play dirty and hard.6 You have violated my spirit and torn the sacred from my womb. The last laugh is not yours to have nor mine. That goes to my Savior. Our Father in Heaven. Stand down Satan. You have made an eternal enemy out of me. And I am a Daughter of Heaven. Beloved. Equipped to war for my heart, my marriage and my children.
Emerson, you are loved. Jeremiah 31:3 You are wanted. Ephesians 1:11-12 You belong. Psalm 139:15-16 You are treasured. Exodus 19:5 You leave behind a hole so vast, my only hope is in the Lord Psalm 39:7 – that his presence will rest in that echoing void for all my days. Genesis 1:2 In Him you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28 If I could give you my life, I would. John 15:13 The sting of death is not forever. I Corinthians 15:55 My life here is but a mist James 4:14 and when that day comes, I will scoop you up in my arms and shower you with kisses. Luke 15:20 And I will listen. Proverbs 12:15 I will listen for eternity. I can’t wait to hear of all that you have learned from Our Heavenly Father. Matthew 7:11 You will teach me. Isaiah 11:6 O how I miss you. Revelation 21:3-4
The week of our miscarriage was a thin and holy place – where the distance between Eternity and earth was a sheer veil. At times, I couldn’t figure out where to be: here or there or in between. The hours were a sea of sadness filled with the sounds of sorrow and the voice of Our Father. I didn’t just walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I felt it in me. I have seen glimpses of Heaven in the good things of life and I have also known the holiness of birth with each of my older children, but never, ever did I expect to experience a holy miscarriage. “I didn’t know I would find my Redeemer here, in the middle of my deepest fear.”7 What the Enemy meant for ruin has already seen profound, yet little understood redemption. I have walked and worshipped on the holy ground of miscarriage and I will never be the same.
JT and I and our 3 remaining children grieve deeply the death of Emerson and the loss of what God had designed for us. At times we grieve together. Other times in solitude because deep grief needs privacy. It’s intense and ugly as one’s soul and spirit and body writhe in pain. “It’s such a mysterious place, the land of tears.”8 I rest in God’s presence and promise to lead me beside quiet waters as he restores my soul. Psalm 23: 2-3. He is “here in the middle of the healing that hasn’t happened yet.”9 I am firmly rooted beside these sacred waters. I remain guarded against the noise of busyness so that I can fully feel, fully grieve, fully rest.
Lamentably, my suffering is ordinary and intrusively ordered from The Enemy’s long-ago violation of God’s Creation. I join the masses of those who live with deep loss, each and every day. I choose to say – it is well with my soul. One day, the Enemy and his lies will be fully crushed and my Savior will make beauty from all these ashes. Isaiah 61:3. Why I cannot enjoy full redemption, right here-right now, is beyond my scope of understanding. My lingering whys provide me the opportunity of a lifetime to trust God with my lack of understanding, my tears, and the hole in my heart. One day I will stand fully redeemed as Emerson’s mama.
Just not yet…but one day He will wipe every tear from my eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.10
- Martin, E. W. (2015). The Wonderful Things You Will Be. Random House Children’s Books.
- The Holy Bible, New International Version, personalization added.
- The Holy Bible, New International Version.
- Singer, B. (Director). (1995). The Usual Suspects [Motion Picture].
- Saint-Exupéry, A. d. (1943). The Little Prince.
- Caine, C. (2016). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.
- Holcombe, E. (2017). Find You Here.
- Saint-Exupéry, A. d. (1943). The Little Prince.
- Holcombe, E. (2017). Find You Here.
- Revelation 21:4, The Holy Bible, New International Version, personalization added.