I've had brushes with tragedy my whole life. Somebody my Dad know's had something horrible happen to them...the person who used to live next to us is experiencing terrible circumstances...my old teacher and her struggles with cancer...etc. Never before had it been this personal.
One of my most dear friends (God thought it proper to give me a few) called me Sunday morning.
"Julia? I have bad news...we lost Aubrey."
My friend was 7 months pregnant, due on my birthday with a beautiful little girl (their first, after struggling to get pregnant for 5 years).
I remember getting another call from Courtney, my friend, months ago...a call to tell me the one thing I'd been waiting to hear from her for years.
"Julia? I've got something to tell you..."
Me: "ARE YOU???"
I was met by an overwhelming "Yes!" and joy rushed my heart with abandon. Tears sprung to my eyes and I beamed. Straight-out-of-my-chest beamed.
Courtney and her husband Sam had been trying to have a baby since the day they got married...5 years. Late last year they decided to undergo three rounds of AI treatments before they began the adoption process. On their second treatment they found success, and with it, hope.
Now, I think i'm a pretty alright mom. I care for my kids, and I think they enjoy me (when I'm holding chocolate). But Courtney and Sam? They are meant to be parents. They love deeper than any couple I've ever met...with every fiber in their beings.
And yet God kept her from conceiving for 5 years...or, He didn't make any grand gestures in her favor to give her a child. I don't understand it.
And, clearly, I'm not meant to. The anal, need-to-control-the-situation part of my psyche gets really pissed off by this notion.
On days like last Sunday, when Courtney told me that she hadn't felt Aubrey move the day before, and had headed to the doctor to make sure she was alright...I can't help but feel that God is a mean kid with a magnifying glass while we scramble around the anthill.
When she told me there was no heartbeat, and that she would have to deliver her sweet little girl, the girl we'd hoped, and prayed, and rejoiced over, I felt like we'd all been abandoned.
Why would a loving God do this? What point does it serve? What good is accomplished?
I think these are the questions people were asking when Christ was left to die on that cross. They didn't know there would be a resurrection in the days to come...they saw the injustice and pain of someone so undeserving of both.
I'm hoping for a resurrection on the horizon...something to validate all of this. I'm expecting it. I'm expecting God to show Himself in a mighty way and prove to me that this loss was necessary. And justified. He doesn't owe it to me...and yet I expect it.
In the meantime, after enduring 33 hours of labor to bring forth her precious Aubrey, Courtney and Sam get to bury their daughter on Wednesday morning. They'll buy an impossibly small casket and lay her in the ground with all the gentleness and care they've shown the past 6 months. And then they'll wait...wait until eternity to see her alive and vibrant.
I can take comfort in one thing...and one thing alone (at this point, anyway). That the only thing Aubrey will ever know is the comfort of the womb; the muffled, but soothing voices of her mom and dad; and an eternity in a place of no sorrow or struggle. God, at least, spared her the hurts that life brings.
I hope for Courtney a heart that will mend. Scarred in a huge way, but mended. That her arms will cradle a baby in the future. That she can smile again. And that she can look back on this, years down the road, and see with crystal clarity why she was allowed to endure this.
As for me, I continue to pray for peace. Peace and strength for the days ahead. And for understanding.