He Understands Our Pain
“How many children do you have?”
Simple question, simple answer. Right?
During an average day, I cannot count how many times I am faced with this question. It should be easy enough to answer, except it is often followed with:
“How old are they?”
Working as a midwife, I spend my days talking with new and expecting moms, so of course these are normal questions. I have a unique relationship with these women. They trust me, and they want to draw from my experiences. If only they knew the flurry of emotions that I go through each time I am faced with this question. Honestly, depending on the day, you may get different answers from me.
You see, for me the answer is not so simple. I have given birth to 4 beautiful daughters. Three of whom I still parent, and one who is waiting for me in Heaven.
On November 4, 2002, I received a phone call from my babysitter that she had found our daughter, Elizabeth, not breathing. She was 3 ½ months old.
I don’t want to dwell on the details from that day. I have come a long way emotionally, spiritually, and physically since that time.
I will say that losing a child is not something that you ever recover from. You learn to find a new normal, a new way of living. You are left with a hole in your heart that will never be filled or healed, no matter how much time goes by. But, time does help. Time does make the pain more dull. And, time makes you appreciate, even more, the things that you do have.
When Elizabeth died, I struggled a lot with my faith. I had a lot of questions, and no one had the answers. I remember wondering why God did this to us. What had we done wrong? About 3 years after she died, our oldest daughter, Olivia, went through AWANA with some other kids in our neighborhood. The first verse she had to memorize was John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
This was such an amazing moment in my journey of healing. I had heard this verse so many times, but it had never had the impact that it did this day. For the first time, I realized that God did not do this to us. And more importantly, he completely understood our pain. He too had mourned the loss of a child. I cannot put into words how this verse changed my life.
So often, when people ask me about Elizabeth or want me to speak about SIDS, they want me to focus on the tragedy and the pain. They are very taken aback when I talk about my blessings. I have 3 beautiful daughters that I am able to parent every day. God has trusted me to raise them. He thinks I am capable and good enough, so I must believe this too. I try to make sure they know everyday how much they are loved. I know I am not a perfect mother, but I am the best mom that I know how to be.
So, when I am faced with that simple question, “How many children do you have,” understand that most days it is easier for me to say, “3. I have 3 beautiful daughters AT HOME.” Elizabeth understands this answer. It doesn’t mean that I have forgotten her, or that I don’t still feel like her mother. I cannot handle the awkward silence or the looks of pity. Don’t feel sorry for me. I am blessed. I am the mother of 4 gorgeous daughters. I had 3 wonderful months with a beautiful baby girl who is waiting for me in Heaven. I have the privilege of raising her 3 sisters and loving them everyday.
I know that, someday, I will be with Elizabeth again. Until that time, I trust that our loving father will take care of her for me. This knowledge gives me great joy.