The Duggar Family is grieving tonight. Their current pregnancy has just ended in miscarriage. The night before they went in for an ultrasound to determine gender, they were sitting around picking out baby names. Hours later they were discussing a name again…and planning a funeral.
Joy to sorrow.
Hearts sick with loss.
So it was with our Emilia Jude.
I stopped by to see her today. Compelled by grief that often stands silent, unnoticed amid the noise of boy laughter and three sets of running feet. My lunch sat beside me as I pulled out of Taco Bell. The aroma of its warm contents lifted my spirits in an otherwise cold car. I set off to the cemetery, my favorite spot when I “car-nic” alone. Snow draped the entrance and seemed to deter others.
I found the memorial to her resting place easily. Angel statues dappled with snow stood inside the brick semi-circle. Snow covered the ground marker which identified this as the place the Hospital remembered babies like mine. I guess when Jerry and I first visited we expected to see a little turned up earth to show that month’s losses (as we heard). We both felt disappointed, but pleased that at least they are not forgotten and there is a place to sit and grieve.
Bright sun shone through the car window and began to warm me as I sat there looking, thinking, dreaming, eating, and waiting. Awaiting, one might say in Biblical lingo.
Awaiting, because this hope is where my grief turns after fresh tears are shed for a little girl or boy who never developed enough to hold in our arms.
For eight weeks we ran with joy toward our future. Our future with a little one who would join us in nine months—like all babies do, right?—She satisfied Eric’s frequent prayers for “two sisters.” The whole family was involved once we heard that first heart beat at seven weeks. We couldn’t keep it to ourselves! We wrote a little baby book to welcome her and help her live a life for Jesus. Eric, then eight years old, even wrote a sweet letter to this baby, flourished with stickers, showing his eager joy. I began marking the first records that would guide the next nine months.
That welcome book is preserved in a tiny report folder. A life so small had filled our hearts with more love than one can imagine. I never felt a kick. Never experienced heartburn. Never even had time to see my assigned obstetrician. Yet, I knew my daughter. Suddenly I didn’t feel alone and had a curious new caution that surrounded my every waking moment. My greatest desire was to be a mother.
Two weeks later, there was no heart beat. The surgeon was kind and reported she had held our perfectly formed 8-week baby. I heard something about testing on it to follow and hospital volunteers that make miniature blankets and grief groups and the cemetery. As I came out of anesthesia, my gut cried out: “My baby! My baby! They took my baby.” Those were painful emotions for my husband to experience with me also.
At home I lay in bed in a darkened room feeling lonelier than I could express because her presence inside me was gone.
I turn to the snowy figures before and take another bite of my burrito. I see no 8-week-sized casket as I look over snow covered angels and drooping flowers. Who knows where they put her. I draw on Jesus’ words at Lazarus’ tomb. He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” I am glad she’s resting now. Knowing nothing. Feeling nothing. Yet…
I’m awaiting….that glorious day of Jesus’ appearing as King of Kings. Soon I will hold the little one in my arms that was once robbed from me but will then be restored as the masterpiece the Life-Giver intended for her or him to be.
The warmth of hope settles into the cracks and mends more of broken heart.
Yes, it’s true that I have new sweet little hands to hold since we lost our Emilia Jude, but today I am glad there was a place to come and be alone with the memory of how love can be full and complete, even if for a moment in time. Mrs. Duggar’s arms are full too, yet tonight I imagine her heart has an empty place and her arms grow slack for the child they wished to know.
My lunchtime is over and I have cried and reminisced. Now I’ll take one last look at the place where her memory rests as I drive on to share love’s other full moments.
What delight we mothers who have lost will have in Heaven as we gather together and show off our babies! Until then, let’s talk about these precious ones and what they meant to us. Let’s share each other’s grief and join in a hope that awaits!
Just came across this very touching letter written read by Michelle Duggar to her Jubilee Shalom. Listen to her mother’s heart with me and remember your own goodbye words to your little ones.
You will see Michelle holding her daughter’s tiny hand.