The post that follows is something I wrote a few years ago, as I was remembering the events in our family in December of 2008. Luke was three and a half, and we didn’t know we were going to have Anna yet! I’ve edited it a bit so it makes more sense in the details, but the story is just as special to me as when it all happened…
Christmas has always meant happy times with family, singing beloved hymns and songs, anticipating the giving and receiving of gifts, eating favorite special foods, and ever since I was a little girl, retelling the story of Jesus’ birth. As I’ve grown up, each of these parts of the celebration has become sweeter and more meaningful.
At Christmastime in 2008, there was more to anticipate than usual: in November of that year, I found out I was pregnant…with twins. After we had gotten past the initial surprise (no twins on either side of the family), we found ourselves nervously excited, knowing that what God had begun, He would carry through to completion, and meet our every need along the way. The anticipation heightened, however, as we made repeated trips to our doctors, each time expecting to hear those heartbeats. Our team of doctors was “cautiously optimistic” when they noted growth on the ultrasound, even though there were no heartbeats. Finally, after more and more frequent visits to check on the progress, our “day” to know what would happen became December 24, Christmas Eve. We had decided we wanted to know before Christmas, and at that point, in our hearts, I think we already knew what we would hear.
Even though we had prepared ourselves for that news, of course it was still crushing. We still sobbed. Even though we had only been aware of these tiny embryos for about six weeks, they had carved a special place in our hearts. And even though we never got to hear those hearts beat, I still remember the feeling of life within me during that time.
Because we serve a God of surprises, a God of mercy, a God of love, the story doesn’t end there, and I’m happy to say, it gets better. Hours after that last appointment, after comforting hugs and Kleenex from our doctor, after trying to keep things “normal”, especially for Luke, who was three and a half at the time, we did what we would normally do on Christmas Eve. We went to church. We lived outside of Tampa at the time.
Since it was a “special” service, there was no childcare or classes for the little ones, so Luke sat on my lap for the entire service. After our pastor finished his message, he explained how each of us could find hope and life forever, through Jesus. He instructed all of us there to close our eyes for a moment, to think, to pray, and to simply raise a hand if we wanted to have Jesus in our heart forever. Amidst all of the emotion of the day, I remember sitting there so thankful that Vien and I had already, years ago, chosen to follow Jesus and have him in our hearts. What hope! What comfort! What joy, what meaning, what love!
But wait…it got even better. As I smiled and opened my eyes, what should I see, but my sweet little Luke on my lap, with his hand up in the air. Now, Luke had learned about Jesus from infancy and had told me at home sometime earlier that year that he did in fact want Jesus in his heart. I knew that already and rejoiced as I knew he understood some of these glorious truths. But to see him raise his hand, on that night, when my heart was so raw and in so much need of a burst of joy and hope, I couldn’t help but just cry. No, I would never get to meet those little babies till I got to heaven, but how perfect of a gift to know that my precious son, living and breathing and wiggling on my lap, had caught glimpses of the deep, deep love of Jesus, and wanted that in his tender life. I could not have asked for a better gift. (God did add to my joy by granting me another pregnancy two short months later. That’s our Anna, and she just turned 10.)
It is a bittersweet story, but as I remember that day 11 years ago, I can say that the “sweet” far outweighs the “bitter”. I haven’t sent out any Christmas cards this year, but I pray for everyone who made it this far in this story, that you would have open hearts to the gifts God wants to give to each of you, for they are greater than we could imagine. And as I remember that time of our life as a family, I remember vividly how so many of our family and friends lifted us up in prayer and gave us great comfort. We are blessed indeed.
In the years since this loss in our lives, I have come to realize just how many friends and family have also gone through some form of pregnancy loss. My heart aches with you, and I pray that there is peace covering those wounds. My very first blog post here was also about the twins we didn’t get to meet: Six Weeks