It's hard for me to believe that we have been in South Carolina for over a year.. Time flies when you are having fun. It was Feb. of 2008 when we decided that moving into a preaching ministry position might be the step we needed to take.
On the way back to West Virginia from visiting South Carolina for the first time, on Feb. 26th, 2008, Adam and I were discussing the changes that making such a move would mean for our life.. We talked about the stories that I've always heard about "PK's" aka, Preacher's kids. I talked about how I would break the preacher's wife mold because my disposition is the furthest thing than what one might expect from a preacher's wife.. We talked about a lot of fears that I had in my mind about taking such a huge leap but we also talked about the possibilities of being with a church and in a position that we wanted to stay with long term and how wonderful it would be to have a church family for our children to grow up in. We were contemplating all the big things that the future held for us and how our lives would change forever and then... I got a phone call on my cell phone... And all the thoughts and fears about what a career move would mean for our family became so small and irrelevant because of what I heard on the other end.
Dana, this is your cousin Tracy. April went to the doctor today. They couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. They are taking her in for another ultrasound but it isn't looking good. Please be praying... I'll call you back when we know more.
I am the youngest of 15 grandchildren. Ten on my mother's side and five on my father's side. My cousin Rick was the closest to my age being three years older than me. My mother is from Illinois. Since we have lived in locations that required a lot of travel to see our immediate famlies, we haven't made many trips to see our extended family up north. April is my cousin Rick's wife and I had only met her one time at a family reunion.
My take on life when things go wrong has always been, "it's okay, nothing that is precious to us has been harmed. We still have everything that is dear to our hearts and we can make it through anything else".. But, what would I do if we didn't? Honestly, I can't answer that question for you.. And, I pray that I never will. But I have seen upfront and personal, someone that can...
I got a phone call back just a little bit later telling me that just a week and half before the scheduled c-section, Jacob was gone.. Tracy and I sat there trying to answer all the questions that there were no answers for. When we finally got off the phone, I sat there, driving (I get terribly car sick so I always drive) trying to see through my tears. Tracy and I had not even talked on the phone for a couple of years but at that place in time, faith was our bond. In the following days, as April and Rick were living the most terrifying experience they have ever faced, Tracy and I talked helplessly on the phone and prayed.... We prayed prayers begging God for comfort and prayers of anger with a lack of understanding. Chloe was six months old. I sat and held my baby in my arms and as she looked up at me and smiled, I sobbed at the thought of the longing I knew that would be in a mother's heart that would never hold her baby and see him smile.
I saw April once again at my grandmother's funeral in Dec. of 2008. Chloe and I had made a very long 12 hour trip by ourselves to Illinois. Emma was still in school and with Christmas being just around the corner, we felt like the best thing to do was to have Adam stay here and take care of things at church and with Emma. He did a great job with filling in for me as room mother for Emma's class Christmas party btw. When we got to the funeral home on the same day that we had travelled, Chloe was not in the mood to sit still. I pretty much spent the time that I was there chasing her or trying to hold her still. By the time that we got to the graveside service for my grandmother, Chloe was done and was making no attempts to hide it. I sat in the van with her while she screamed. I have to admit that I was extremely frustrated. Even though I knew that behavior like that was to be expected from a 16 month old that had travelled clear across the country, I was frustrated that I had made that long and exhausting trip only to miss the whole funeral. But as I sat there feeling sorry for myself, I caught a glimpse of April out the window. She was standing there, with empty arms. And, at that point, the only thought that came into my head was, "I'm sure that April would love to be sitting in the car with a crying baby".
There have been several things that have happened lately that have put things in perspective for me. Our little bout with Chloe and the cardiologist, other family members that have had trying times, and people that I love considerably that are having marriage problems at this very moment. I think we often get to thinking that we are above those sort of things happening to us. But, I have become all too aware that we are all only one event away from having our lives turned upside down. When I think about the small things that aggravate me that don't really matter and how there are people out there who truly have a reason to be angry about their situation but choose a better way, I know how very far away I really am from being the person that God wants me to be. I'm so thankful that God has given me glimpses into what could be to show me how very blessed I truly am. And at the same time, I pray that He never lets me see that full picture.
A couple of weeks ago, I got the privilege of really getting to know April. Rick and April and their four children (April tells that story on her blog) stopped for a night's stay at our house on their way to Orlando. I really think there should be some sort of class that one can take that will tell them the things they should do and say when talking to someone that has experienced such a loss. I have to admit that I was a little nervous. I didn't want to ignore such a huge event that no doubt changed forever the person that she is but I also didn't want to bring up something that she wasn't yet comfortable talking about. I have a baby bed in our guest room. I wondered if having it there would bring up memories that she didn't want to re-live. Thankfully, April eased my anxiety about the matter very quickly. She talked about Jacob open and honestly and in just a few hours, we had poured our hearts out to each other and I knew without a doubt that April would be someone that I would continue to feel connected to long after that night.
I marveled at April's faith and how somehow even though she had experienced the worst pain possible, she had been able to see the good that had come from such a horrific experience and unselfishly seen through her pain to think about others. She talked about the difficult months that followed losing her child and how it was at my grandmothers funeral where the preacher talked about how our grandmother would be there to greet us with our favorite breakfast that "something clicked" and she was able to finally see that she would one day be with Jacob once again. And most importantly, she talked about the need to honor Jacob and make good come from such a horrible situation. She talked about how she felt that God wanted her to speak out to others that are hurting. She said that she would one day like to write a book and mentioned my blog and how she had wondered if the place to start was starting a blog of her own. I encouraged her to do just that. So, that is where you come in. Please go and visit April's little space in our cyber world and welcome her. Leave her a comment and click on follow and add her to your list. I feel sure that you will be blessed by her as well as she will be blessed by you.
I didn't end up taking the baby bed down as I had contemplated. I wanted April to know that when she does have the baby that her heart is longing for, there will be space for him/her in our home as well as the rest of the family. I hope that I get to spend more time with April in the future. I pray that April will always know the impact she has on other people's lives by sharing her experience. I know that because of my experience with her, my life has forever been changed.
And for the rest of us, may we never forget those who are hurting, may we savor every blessing that God gives us and may we be a blessing to those we encounter.