It’s been almost three weeks now, since I became an auntie to the most beautiful, perfect little baby boy. My first nephew.
Not a one of us ever even had an idea of what these weeks would hold ~ weeks we thought would be brimming full of joy, and excitement, and wonder at a new little life, turned into weeks overflowing of tears and sorrow and how can this be true.
They have been weeks when the grief washes over and over us, like waves at the ocean, never stopping, just sometimes bigger waves than others.
I’ve been so excited about my first niece or nephew arriving on my side of the family. Ervina’s Southern Maternity shoot was taken last fall when she visited us to excitedly document 20 weeks of pregnancy, and I had so much fun preparing little clothes and accessories for the little love. We were so in love with that sweet baby, even before meeting him.
I come from a long line of baby-lovers. And by that, I don’t just mean the women gushing over a baby. But in my dad’s family, even the men absolutely adore babies. They are seen with a baby in their arms as often as the mother is, talking in sweet tones, chuckling and teasing and adoring. And I have to say, my brother-in-law Kenny topped even that. I had never seen a father-to-be more excited about his baby! So many people talked about his excitement.
The day finally came when my sister went into labor, and at a checkup before heading to the hospital came the shocking, gut-wrenching news, “Your baby is not alive.”
There is nothing in the world that can prepare someone for words like those. All had been fine just one week earlier at the checkup, and even the day before the baby was moving. There was no warning sign at all that anything was wrong.
Little did we know, as Kenny & Ervina were preparing a nursery for their baby, the most beautiful nursery I’ve ever seen in all my life, that Jesus was also preparing a home in Heaven for their precious baby boy.
Little Kenneth, named after the man who was so proudly anticipating being his daddy, weighed 7 pounds, and 11 big ounces, and was 22 long inches. He was born on March 22, 2014, safe in the arms of Jesus.
[photo courtesy of Ervina Yoder]
Whoever knew that a little life could mean so much to us, to me? I am not even the mother, but my heart had all kinds of butterflies when I thought of that little baby joining the family. When he was overdue, I was trying to stay busy and occupy my mind because those six days seemed like an eternity! And now, the loss feels so so deep, a continual ache. And I’m just the auntie, not even the mother. My heart breaks for my sweet sister.
These are her words, about a week after his birth…
It’s been six days since Kenny and I found out we’d never get to see our precious baby boy, the delight and expectation of our hearts, take his first breath. The anguish of this has pierced our hearts beyond what we could have imagined possible. We’ve needed Jesus more than anything and have found Him to be so near, so faithful, so sufficient, so redeeming. We miss our son desperately, but through your prayers, words and presence, God has shown His comfort through His Body… we are humbled and grateful.
“I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” [The Apostle Paul, Philippians 1:12]
We have been slammed headfirst into the Grace of God, as my sister Claudia speaks of it. That doesn’t mean the tears stop, or that the hurt goes away. But it means that the presence of God is so precious, He is so faithful. As big as the need, He is bigger still. Jesus is everything.
I spoke with Ervina about a week after the death and birth of her little son, and asked her how she can go on from here, what the anchor of her soul is through this. And her words were powerful and tender… “I don’t know why this happened, and it hurts so much. But, I know my God. I know Who He is, and even in this, I can trust Him.”
In times of deepest grief and tragedy, what truly is within a person comes out. And in Ervina and Kenny, there is a sweetness and strength even in the middle of the agony. The foundation of their lives was built on Jesus long before this tragedy ever happened.
We as a family are so grateful for Jesus, for the promise that He is good, even now. Even though our hearts are breaking in the loss of little Kenny, and seeing our precious sister and her husband walk such grief, we choose to believe Him, and trust His faithfulness to us.
Without the perspective of eternity, of a Sovereign God, life is hopeless. But Jesus makes all the difference in the world. He gives us strength to endure the pain of today because of the joy of eternity. One day, all tears will be wiped away, and one day, sweet little baby, we will be with you again.
Just about a week before the birth of little Kenny, I wrote this quote in my journal, being deeply impacted by the truth of it, and also deeply missing my friend Ruth. And now it touches me so much again, healing and ache all in one.
“We have not lost him, He is only gone a little before us. There we shall soon find him, and enjoy him again and forever – far more than we ever did in this life.” [E. D. Griffin ]
Yes, the loss is still felt so deeply, achingly so. But there is a perspective greater than the pain, that of Jesus, of the preciousness of eternity. For that better world to come, that HOME to come.
Eternity, and Heaven, are all the more real, and precious. We were not made for this world, for all the pain, for the sorrow and agony, for the effects of sin. There IS a bigger reality than what we can see: there is a Heaven, there is a Hell. And it’s real. The life we live here matters. The choices we make on earth matters. ETERNITY MATTERS.
Ten thousand more words could be written, and it still wouldn’t sum up the emotions, the grief, and the way God has carried us these weeks.
But we also want to say we are so grateful for the outpouring of support to our extended family, and especially to Kenny & Ervina. We are seriously blown away by the kindness and care of so many people. The body of Christ has become ever more dear to us. Thank you, thank you…
Please continue to take Kenny & Ervina to Jesus in prayer…