I was up late at night writing a letter to my son to be read at his funeral the next day.
Our son had been born a few weeks earlier with what we learned was a rare and fatal disorder that took his life at three days old.
I had started the letter with a lament, the same familiar one I had been repeating over and over to myself after I was released from the hospital. We longed for you to live, my son. We asked, but we didn’t see our miracle. The ones with the capital M’s, the ones people write about and make movies out of.
Then, this next sentence came falling out onto the page.
Here’s the thing though sweet boy, we did see other things.
It surprised me.
We did see other things.
I kept writing.
We saw nurses who took care of us like we were their family. Staying after shifts to sit with us and bringing me their Kleenex from home to replace the hard sandpaper kind the hospital had.
A friend who drove all day, knocked on my hospital door with coffee in one hand and an overnight bag in the other. Who curled up on the stiff pull out couch next to my bed and woke up with me every hour as the nurse poked and prodded and checked my vitals before you were born so your dad could spend one night at home with your sisters after many nights away.
A doctor who talked with us for longer than doctors have time to. Who sat on our bed and cried with us when we realized those capital M miracles weren’t going to happen.
Church members who showed up in hospital hallways to pray when we couldn’t find the words ourselves.
Brothers who showed up with your dad’s favorite food and who hugged him tight as he cried on their shoulder for longer than he ever had before.
Sisters who dropped everything to come and sit with your dad and I as we were faced with the toughest decisions in our lives. Who sat with me while my body recovered from surgery and shock. Who brushed my matted and tangled unwashed hair when I couldn’t do it myself. Sisters who stepped into their position as your Aunts without hesitation. Who took pictures with you, commented on your features and your movements and coos through the incubator, who held your hand through the wires and machines, and who introduced you to all your cousins through videos and pictures and stories.
Grandparents that took care of your sisters so that your dad could spend every minute with you and I. Who cooked and cleaned and cried and drove back and forth between the hospital and our house at all hours of the day. Who explained hard things to little girls. Grandparents who prayed and hoped and grieved for you alongside us.
We saw your sister’s kiss your tiny head and touch your tiny toes with a tenderness we hadn’t seen from them before and we watched as they talked about how much they loved you with a fierceness that surprised your daddy and I.
Pastors and friends who happened to be pulling into the hospital parking lot just as our doctor had let us know it was time to say goodbye. The same pastors and friends that had helped me to know Jesus so many years ago, that had counseled and married your dad and I, were able to step in and sit alongside us as we held you before you took your last breath. I felt their hands on our shoulders, pressed in and praying for us praying for you, with tenderness and tenacity.
The list went on and on. Doctors and nurses who broke rules so we could hold our son. Friends who sent notes filled with poetry and kindness and scripture that comforted us. Meals sent to our table, packages sent to our doorstep and prayers sent up to God. You see, we did not get our capital M Miracle, and I don’t know or won’t ever know why. What I do know is that what we got instead was the hardest experience of our life, surrounded by beautiful and tender moments of being loved deeply. In those weeks we experienced a sacrificial and unconditional kind of love from our family and friends and neighbors and strangers, image bearers of God, that I hadn’t experienced before. The kind with the capital L.
God is a God of miracles, yes, but we are not promised that He will perform those miracles in our lives in the ways we want Him to.
What we are promised is that God loves us and that we can rely on that because He is love.
I finished my letter that night and set my alarm so that I could wake up on time to get ready for my son’s funeral in the morning, anxious for the day that lay ahead and with grief still resting heavy on my heart, but confident in God’s love for me.