A young couple in our church recently delivered their first child only to give him up to death four short hours after he arrived. (I heard about their situation via our church’s prayer list. I don’t personally know them.)
Before this child’s birth, his parents had been alerted he suffered from a specific physical condition, Potter Syndrome. This is a condition about which I know very little other than what I’ve read on various medical websites.
These parents were relieved to know of their son’s illness before he was born. This knowledge allowed them to prepare themselves (1) to love on this child during the short hours of his life, and (2) to trust God to supply in abundance the grace sufficient for this trial. But their present grief is surely an overwhelming heartache. It is beyond my comprehension … and yet I grieve with them through their loss.
I would not wish to minimize the traumatic void this couple (and their extended family) will experience throughout the rest of their lives. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Harding describes such grief as “… orders of sorrow, any one of which alone would have wrenched us from our fragile orbits around each other.” A child’s death disorders the universe as nothing else can do.
More than a decade ago, my eldest daughter miscarried what would have been her second child. At the time of that loss (a loss for all of us in her family), I wrote the sonnet below. Speaking directly to my unborn grandchild was an attempt on my part to grieve and set this event into perspective in my head and heart.
As in my sister’s death, based in my hope in Jesus Christ, I have assurance I’ll meet this child one day. Boy or girl, I’m confident this baby is safe in the arms of my Savior. Even in the loss of a child, that’s a hope we can boldly and thankfully cherish!
Although this sonnet has a somber tone, I offer it as another token for National Poetry Month. Because I believe goodbye in this world isn’t goodbye forever, I’ve posted the poem here not to engender sadness but rather to celebrate the brief lives of God’s children who are called into his presence … on a timeline different than what we mortals had considered appropriate. (I need to remind myself often: God’s timeline is perfect.)