Today is Natalie's birthday. She would be a big six-year-old girl.
Stillbirth, six years later. Part of it seems so far away, and yet, I can still remember it like it happened just last week.
The pain of the broken heart is gone. God has healed my heart. I praise Him for the work He has done. On a daily basis my life is no longer affected by the grief of losing her. There are still lessons I learn as a result of losing her, and I still miss her and love her. But God has moved me into the land of the living, and what a grand life it is.
But although that pain is removed, if I remember her, really think about her and relive some of the moments from the time she was alive in my belly, to the moments we shared after she was born, her soul already in heaven, there is sadness and tears. The pain is removed, but the sadness remains.
Natalie's death was a big loss, unexpected and unexplained. The time I had holding and loving her was too short and too sad. While I rejoice in the gracious fact that God has healed my heart, I am glad He doesn't erase away my memory of her. Besides a few photos and keepsakes, my memories are what I have left of her.
Just last week I was in the shower, and I began to think of her. I was thinking about what she wore when she was buried. My sister went out and bought her a beautiful preemie dress, lavender with smocking on the top, and a matching bonnet. It was a beautiful dress. I wish I had bought a second, so I could have my own to remember what a pretty girl she was in her first dress. And then I thought about the only outfit I ever put on her. Adam and I struggled to get her little body into a gown sleeper. It was awkward and difficult, but I am glad I had that mommy moment with her. But as I thought on these things in the shower, I began to cry. Really weep.
The tears didn't last, and my sadness lifted, and I went forward with my day.
As I reflect on this reality of my life, I see the sadness not as some sort of cross to bear or a burden to carry. It is my life. It is just a part of who I am. I am a child of God, who has been allowed by the Creator of the universe to have a stillbirth. There is sadness attached to this reality. The burden of grief was a terrible weight and trial, but my life now is not terrible. Natalie's death is no longer a temptation to question the wisdom or love of my God. Natalie's death is just a truth, a part of my history and a big chapter in the story of my life.
Six years ago, I was reeling with the new reality I faced, wondering how I could have lost her, wondering what I did wrong, wondering if I would ever have a baby who lived. Six years ago I was the mother of a stillborn daughter. Today I am still the mother of a stillborn daughter. I am also the mother of an incredible son and daughter, and a little one growing in my womb. My life is the whole package, all four of these children: in heaven, in arms, and in my belly. It is a wonderful life. I can testify that God is faithful, that He never leaves me or forsakes me. I can tell you of a broken heart healed. I can tell you of my precious gifts, Joey and Kate. I can tell you that the scar of sadness that remains is part of me, and I am okay with that. Jesus loves me and cares for me. He didn't make any mistakes.
Happy sixth birthday, Natalie! I hope today is an extra special day of singing for Jesus. I miss you, and I love you forever!
...I have trusted in thy mercy;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the LORD, because
he hath dealt bountifully with me.