Monday, February 10, 2014

Flash Back...

I remember like it was yesterday.  The feeling of anticipation.  The longing to see you, hear you, hold you.  The build up to your arrival was one laden with prayer, fasting, and the coming together of many across the miles.  You, our sweet pea, were an unexpected blessing of unmerrited favor.  You.were.GRACE.

And so the story goes.  I didn't freeze like they said I would.  I wasn't able to be there in the moment you gasped for your first breath.  I wasn't even the first one to look upon your sweet cherub face, nor was I the first to touch your sweet, pink and rosy skin.  Missed moments I wish I had.  Yet, I remember coming out of the fog of anesthetic eager to know you...eager to know if there still was a 'you.'  In the haze of confusion I called out again and again, 'was she breathing? was she breathing?'  To which the patient nurse responded again and again. "Yes, she was breathing and she is beautiful."

Hours later I remember being wheeled in my bed, out of recovery into the NICU.  I can't even begin to describe the emotions that welled up within my heart wrenched, and beat up soul.  All the hours of prayer, all the moments in scripture, all the positive thoughts and well wishes of thousands around us led up to this moment.  Yet, when I saw your sweet little form lying under the warmth of the incubator, I didn't notice your head circumference.  Nor did I ask what your chances of survival were.  I saw you my sweet girl, and nothing else mattered. You were there, and you were mine. My imperfect, perfect valentine.

We are coming up to your sixth birthday this week.  We have all felt it coming.  Your sister and brother both broke open the vault of grief last night.  They miss you, and they long for the story to have been different.  They wrestle with the notion of how a good, and loving God chose not to heal their baby sister.  They cry in anger and in utter brokeness to think that such pain and sickness abound.  Yet, even in their pain and in the questioning, they know the hope of more.  For every valley of pain, there is this balance of hope and peace.  For every longing tear of sadness, there are thankful tears of joy.  They miss you so deeply, and it hurts so much to see them miss you, for we know the pain.  We so want to protect them from it, but if we did we would be robbing them of their story.  For it is in their pain of longing for you that reminds them that this is not the end.  And so...we let the tears flow.

Painful.  Heart-wrenching. Messy.  Sorrowful.  Grief.

In our brokeness we offer up a weak hallelujah.  In our pain, our lips tremble as we breathe out and mutter a word of deep gratitude and thanks. Yet, there in the pool of our tears, fully entrenched in the messiness, we feel closer to you and to heaven.   Once again, we are clothed in unmerrited favor.  We are clothed in His GRACE.

And so, as the day of love draws near and we celebrate what would be your sixth birthday, we choose to once again lean into the pain and remember the day we were blessed with our greatest valentine gift of all...GRACE.