As I sit in the quiet of the house, before the sun has fully made its ascent, praising God for all the good things He has done for me, my eyes land on a picture of my firstborn; the daughter that made me a mama. The daughter who, while only in my arms for four short months, changed everything about my life.
My prayer stumbled. How do I thank Him for her when she isn’t here? How do I thank Him if that means I am thanking Him for taking her? My heart wrestled with my mind and in that moment, I could feel her smooth, soft skin and hear her sweet baby giggle. I could hear the lawnmower running in the background and feel the all-consuming joy of my life. The carpet, soft under my knees, was the perfect place to play with my baby. To teach her new things and to read her books about silly things. It was ordinary. It was perfect. It was my last night with her.
I was transported back to a life that didn’t know a lot of heartache yet. A life that held back parts from Jesus. Then, the earth shattered and life, my perfect life, was gone. It had to be rebuilt and reconfigured, and I had to learn how to define myself. A mother with no child. Am I still a mama? Do I talk about her? Do I protect others and keep her a secret?
How do I thank Him for this?
My eyes roam to the pictures next to Chloe’s: Gracie, Faith, Ellie. Those I can thank Him for. But my eyes keep bouncing back. I know He not only desires, but requires, my thanksgiving.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from the Father of Lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17
Then a memory came. A beautiful, heartbreaking memory. Father gave me a new friend last week. Quite an unexpected friend, but she shouldn’t have been. I have prayed for her, begged Him to bring someone into my life that I could share Him with, that I could know and love and meet with regularly. As my girls ran around outside in the public square, playing with their new friends, bits of broken Chinese and laughter floating over their shoulders as they ran, He began to stir my heart. I looked around to figure out why He was making me restless and my eyes lighted upon a pregnant woman that I had tried to talk to earlier in the week. She didn’t come across as real friendly and my pride was a bit stung, but when I glanced at her, I heard Father telling me to talk to her. I argued with Him. I didn’t want to be ignored again. I didn’t want to try to make my brain think in Chinese when it is so hard and has forgotten so much. But my heart wouldn’t stop. I felt worried and anxious and uncomfortable. So I took a step closer and asked when her baby was due. I think the heavens opened and the angels rejoiced at my simple obedience and the Lord decided to rain down His goodness on this moment. She turned and smiled, and we talked for an hour. The next morning, she came over to my home and we talked for two more hours. She is 35 (same as me). Her name is Fan Er. Mine is Fei Er. The similarities kept popping up. Then the one thing I wouldn’t wish upon anyone got moved to the list of things in common. I was trying to explain to her that I have four daughters, not three like I had told her. My purpose was to open the door to share the best Truth she will ever hear, but then she looked at me with watery eyes and said, “You must feel heartbroken. I know because I had a daughter last year that died when she was 15 days old.” My breath caught in my throat, and I was stunned speechless. She told me her daughter was born too small, only 2.5 pounds. She never saw her daughter; never touched her or held her or smelled her sweet baby smell. Her family thought that if she saw her, she would miss her too much. She wasn’t given a name because that would have been bad luck. As the tears began to drip from the corners of her eyes, I put my hand on hers and said, “It looks like you miss her anyway.” As suddenly as the topic was opened, it was closed. This culture usually doesn’t reveal such intimate details so soon, and I think she was a bit embarrassed at her emotion. But I know the One who can heal all her hurts, who can turn her weeping into joy.
The memory faded, and as I thanked Him for Fan Er and asked Him to reveal Himself to her in mighty ways so that she may become a child of His, I thanked Him for giving me Chloe. I thanked Him for the way that He opened my eyes and heart to Him in a new way after she went to live in Heaven. I thanked Him for choosing me to be her mama for her time on Earth. I thanked Him for the way her memory and her story lives on and helps open doors to share His name. I thanked Him for the good and perfect gift she continues to be.