There are certain thoughts that go through your mind in an ER examining room with your daughter. As I tied Anna into her hospital gown today, tenderly lifting her long, chestnut-colored hair off her back, the inevitable question arose without warning:
Could I go on living without her? This gentle-spirited girl known for her constant smile and graceful composure in the most chaotic circumstances? This beautiful child who broke open my womb fourteen years ago in this very place, who has brought me immeasurable joy ever since?
I have always felt that losing a child must the most painful of human experiences. But I have yet to lose a close loved one. Suddenly, the day after Christmas, my precious firstborn is suffering vision loss, a tear-inducing headache, and extreme fatigue–symptoms unnerving to this mother who’s typically nonchalant when it comes to illness.
Of course I prayed for healing, as I am a believer in miracles. But deep down, the what-if’s continued as I awaited the results of blood work and a CT scan, followed again by that question I’d never faced until this day:
How would I go through life if God chose to take my baby?
In the horrid split-second darkness of that contemplation, a speck of hope–a solitary consolation suddenly flickered. Six words sprang up in my spirit, bringing me the assurance that I could indeed make it to the end of my life–even triumphantly–without my precious Anna Grace:
I will be with her again.
Make that seven words: …forever.
All test results came back normal. The doctor’s instructions were to “wait and see.”
I expect that soon enough Anna will be plowing through our fresh, thick blanket of snow on her snowboard, then bursting through the front door for some hot chocolate, her cheeks beaming rosier red than usual. For the time being, I am drawn to a passage I’ve read many times before, and now it takes on new meaning:
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” I
I've had friends who've lost a child. I believe it to be the most painful kind of human suffering. I don't pretend for a second to imagine or understand that level of grief. But I can tell you that having hope for (real, physical) life beyond death, because of Christ's resurrection from the dead, has made all the difference in the way my friends grieve. They tell me so.
(2/22 Update: Anna is now 25. She went on to become a US Marine officer, then moved to Thailand to teach English. We will always encounter "what-if's" concerning our children, at any age. I haven't stopped praying.)