“I am glad you were born alive.”
I don’t think I’ve said that before this week, but now those words have ran through my head more times than I can count. Looking down into the big wise brown eyes of a wonderfully chubby baby, watching a dark skinned Latino girl skip across the parking lot, holding a blonde blue eyed girl full of energy and spunk on my lap. All of these things have brought this saying to my mind. But those things aren’t what put it there.
What put that saying there was a dead baby. One that I hadn’t seen ‘till today but that had been making my heart heavy for some time. His name is Koda. His heart never beat outside of his mothers womb.
You see, last week I took maternity pictures for his mother. She knew he wasn’t going to live, but she still wanted to remember and celebrate the life that had grown inside of her. The photo shoot was a wonderful time that almost didn’t happen. She almost decided to stay home that day, and I almost went to the lake instead of assisting my mom with the shoot. Thankfully something pushed me to stay home, and her to leave home, so we were together taking pictures that day.
It was a wonderful time. Koda’s mother, my mother, and I went to Caddo Lake to take pictures. We laughed, we cried, we talked, we watched out for poison ivy and we enjoyed the beauty of the area. The pictures turned out beautiful. God set up some of the locations in a way I had never seen before, and they worked wonderfully for me.
The next day I woke up and was told that the baby’s heart had stopped beating. It had stopped in the night as I slept.
That day I went to a friends house, she has an adorable little brown eyed boy. “I’m glad you were born alive.” I whispered to him, my heart breaking for my other friend yet rejoicing for the life in front of me all at once.
I have more deeply realized (there should be a word for that in English.) that not everyone gets to live. That each life is a surprise, a gift, a miracle, and a treasure all rolled up into one. Sometimes the miracle doesn’t finish like we want it to and we lose a life long before we want to. I can’t find the exact words to say how bad it is when that happens, but it sucks.
My mom and I got to be with the family at the hospital while the doctors and the mama worked to get Koda out, and after he came. Birth still makes me a little squeamish, so I wasn’t there for that. The pictures of healthy babies on the walls, the sound of a healthy baby’s heartbeat coming from the next room, the people smiling or saying their congratulations when they see you in the waiting room…. Those things make you want to cry when you can’t look forward to a wiggling baby in your arms.
Why don’t miracles finish the way I think they should? Why didn’t the miracle that started when Koda was conceived finish with a wonderful old man dying after 89 years of vibrant life? Why do some mothers last longer than their children? Why do hearts break and people die? I may know the answer, but that doesn’t stop the pain.
Sometimes life gets broken, and it hurts like heck. But it reveals the beauty of the whole parts of life. And that makes the pain more bearable. This time of brokenness has revealed to me more of the beauty of human life. Of my life, of the many, many lives around me, especially the children. I recognize that beauty when I say: “I’m glad you were born alive.” I also recognize the pain that comes when one child isn’t born alive. I don’t know quite how to end this. I’m not that fond of endings at this moment. But I pray for Koda’s family, and I pray for anyone else who has had to go through this. May God comfort you when it seems impossible.