To die at Christmastide...
This pic of our family was kindly taken by Lillis Weeks earlier this week. Son Joseph is the only one missing. During Christmastide, one of the young mothers here lost a child to miscarriage. After the loss, she sent this note to her sisters in Christ:
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I just read this blog post by Nancy Wilson and I commend it to you. It's a good read to start the year, and here are some of my thoughts.
This holiday break has very much impressed this truth on me. I've been learning the lesson in a different direction though. I've been learning to count my children's days along with my own. And though, as Nancy says, the lesson has not been morbid, it has been very sobering.
As the days of Christmas and New Years have passed, our family has been through the hope of a new pregnancy which I fully expected to bring to fruition. Then we experienced the disappointment of a miscarriage and here began my lesson... I assumed I would meet that baby in this world eight months from now—that I would feel him kick in my belly, deliver, nurse, tend, and teach him. There was plenty of time left.
But God's ways are higher than our ways and my time with our baby was short. So short, in fact, that at first I felt numbness rather than grief. Then the grief set in, but it was over the pride of life I found in my heart as I meditated on the death of this little one. I had thought there was plenty of time left. Time when I wasn't so busy. Time after the holidays to begin to think about this little one; to begin to cherish him with time enough to pray for him later on. But I was wrong.
The impression this lesson made on me only increased as the days went by and I witnessed my niece lying limp in my sister's arms, motionless, breathless, lips purple, unresponsive. Then, just a couple days later, I saw my nephew after a sledding accident that left his face swollen to the point that he was unrecognizable.
Our lives are frail, our children's lives are frail, and we do not know the time we have left with them. The object of pointing this out is not an "enjoy every moment" sentimentality, yet we must take advantage of the time we have. Love, discipline, and shepherd them. Thank God for them.
And remember that our lives are short but our God is so merciful. I'm thankful for the lesson He's teaching me and the time He has already given me. I'm thankful as I watch my little niece of the formerly purple lips run around the house playing and fighting with my son. I'm thankful as I hear my nephew tell his mother, through swollen lips, "I'm okay, Mom." And I'm thankful even as I relinquish my little one, knowing that all things come through His hand. And what He gives me, what He gives my family, is Good.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Every breath, every gift, every sorrow!
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NOTE FROM TB: My grandson, Tate's, sledding accident referred to above happened a couple days ago up at the Michigan Dunes State Park. Going down the big dune on a sled with his Uncle Taylor, Tate face-planted into a log lying on the hillside. So for the rest of our family Christmas he walked around with a face that looked like Mike Tyson had tried to chew his lip off, after which Muhammed Ali had punched his cheekbone a hundred times without a glove.
This sledding accident happened (almost to the day) fifty years after the death of my elder brother, Joe, who died several days after a Christmas night sledding accident in Philadelphia.
Joseph Tate Bayly V was the third child Dad and Mud lost to death. It was Dad's habit to observe that children are only on loan from God; that it's His perfect right to call in that loan any time he wants; and that, when He does, their lives are perfectly complete.
Dad was Joseph Tate Bayly IV, my elder brother was Joseph Tate Bayly V, my eldest son is Joseph Tate Bayly VI, and his eldest son (who just had the accident and is now healing) is Joseph Tate Bayly VII.
Names are important.