September 11, 2006:
I stood holding my diaper-clad twenty three month old daughter trying hard not to disturb the many wires attached to her small frame as our pediatrician’s words began to wield their way into my consciousness, “Keep praying Shannon. Please don’t stop! I don’t know how to tell you this but Eliza is very sick and I’m afraid she may not survive the transfer to Children’s Hospital.” The fervency of her voice combined with the evident fear in her eyes caused my world to come to an abrupt halt. Looking across the small hospital room I saw Joel slumped over in the bedside chair slowly running his fingers through his hair, seemingly in a far off land navigating his own thoughts. I longed for him to look at me. I willed him in my mind to offer me some source of encouragement, but there was none as he remained frozen in his own world. There was just the eerie, repetitive thumping of Eliza’s heart monitor ringing in my consciousness tying me to the little life she held.
What do I say? Each breath could be Eliza’s last and yet I found myself at a profound loss for words. My mind raced with the many things I longed for her to know and yet the intensity of the moment kept me silent. I held her tighter as if that would keep her from slipping away from this life. Just as quickly as she entered my world, she could depart. She wasn’t mine; she was a gift, a precious gift. Snuggling her close, stroking her wavy blond hair, I whispered quietly in her ear, “Mommy loves you dear one. We love you—please know how much we love you. Jesus loves you, you are His. He will meet you—look for Him love. We will see you there.”
Shattering the moment and demanding attention, Zoe our four-year-old daughter bound into the room, gushing with life as she skirted past the crash cart and overlooked the ominous machines surrounding Eliza. Looking to me for answers I offered a weak smile through my tears. How I wish she didn’t have to see me this way, she’s too young to understand. Sensing the weight of the room, Zoe turned and approached Joel, “Daddy, why sad? What’s wrong with Eliza?”
As quickly as Zoe entered, a good friend who was one of many scattered up and down the hallway bound after her to gather her and Eliza’s twin sister, Robin for an overnight ‘adventure’ at their house. Offering smiles of comfort they quickly departed, leaving an empty space in my heart. I longed to casually walk out of the hospital with the life I knew a few days ago. The sterile hospital walls were falling in on me like a prison, void of all feeling, echoing the lifelessness I felt.
Hearing their departing voices, I found myself jealous of Zoe and Robin’s naivety; to be able to live as a child free from the burden threatening the world I had carefully crafted. Many questions clouded my thoughts. Would they have a sister come tomorrow morning? How would we explain it to them? Just a week ago, Robin and Eliza had been playing together in their own mischievous way. Although they weren’t able to communicate verbally, they had a language of their own, which often led to many crazy antics and torrents of giggles. They were inseparable; although fraternal twins they had always been considered as one. How would Robin live without Eliza?
“Help me to say as Job did, “Lord, you give and take away, but blessed be the name of the Lord.” This truth is going to be the only thing that gets us through this. Blessed be Your Name. It’s the first thing in the Lord’s Prayer; help us to bless Your Name first and foremost regardless of what is happening. My kingdom go, Your kingdom come. Our kingdom is so very fragile and crumbling around us Lord but Yours is eternal, sure and unchanging. May Your will be done, as black as this looks please use it for your glory. Our lives are in Your hands.”
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess His name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. -Hebrews 13:15-16