The other week, I attended a dinner party hosted by a lovely couple who had recently lost their baby. At 38 weeks, he was full-term, ready to join our world. Now, a flickering candle keeps alive the memory of the child they almost had.
I was invited because my husband and I had made them dinner in the weeks following their loss. I was a little nervous about going to dinner. Having a young baby myself, I didn’t want to be a reminder of their pain — as if they could forget.
I was glad to see them strong and healthy, able to talk about their loss without tears. Able to talk about their hopes for a future baby, to smile and laugh.
They were still standing, this attractive and successful couple who had experienced every parent’s greatest fear. It’s hard to imagine surviving such a loss, going back to ordinary routines of work and television and dinners with friends. But what else can you do?
The wife said it helps her to think that her baby is in heaven, and that God needed him for some other task. I’m glad she believes that. And I’m glad I believe it too.
Sometimes it’s easy for me to lose sight of the bigger picture in the midst of the day-to-day. I get caught up in laundry and diaper changes and paying bills. I can forget that I believe in a God who loves me and has an underlying purpose for my life. I forget about my belief that my true home is in heaven. I like how C.S. Lewis describes heaven in The Great Divorce, as a reality even more real than this earth. The ultimate reality.
Still in spite of that, the idea of losing someone I love is devastating to contemplate. To open your heart to love is to be vulnerable to loss. It would be safer not to love at all. But without love, we would strip life of its meaning. I am so thankful for my daughter and my husband, the joys and struggles and love we share.
(Candle photograph from Wikimedia Commons)