by Jamie Stewart
It’s hard to believe one moment can change your life — that one moment can shatter your world. I was uneasy sitting in my chair, waiting to get called into the ultrasound room. I always got a little anxious prior to our appointments. The nervousness was definitely trumped by excitement, considering we were about to find out the gender of our little one, but I kept getting this nagging feeling that something could be wrong. I chalked it up to my constant need to worry and pushed the thought as far back in my head as it could possibly go.
Finally, my name was called. The instant the ultrasound tech touched the probe to my belly I felt her demeanor change. A room that seconds ago was full of laughter and excitement shifted to a tension that was palpable. She looked panicked and, within a few minutes of our exam, got up and left without a word. My heart dropped. My husband and I exchanged nervous glances. What is going on? I felt my face flush as the pace of my heart began to quicken.
The ultrasound that was supposed to last an hour only took a few minutes. We were immediately taken to a back room. My mind was racing in every direction. What’s wrong with my baby? I no longer cared about what we were having. I just wanted to know my child was okay. I tried to hold onto hope. I tried to tell myself maybe it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I didn’t want to succumb to the overwhelming sensation of my heart beginning to crumble — not yet — there was still hope. Finally, a doctor opened the door. One look at her face and my heart completely shattered.
“We found some abnormalities with your baby.” Everything went dark. It felt like a bomb had hit me — disoriented, numb, a loud ringing. I can’t breathe. I can’t move. Is this a dream? This has to be a dream! I can’t understand what she is saying. Are you seriously telling me my baby might die? An hour earlier we had walked through those office doors just a normal young couple, hand in hand, and excited for what the future as a family of three would hold. We walked out those very same doors confused, scared and broken beyond recognition.
Early the next morning, I found myself once again lying on a table with a probe on my belly. The gentle and old doctor standing at my side had his hand on mine as we stared at the screen in front of us. His assistant effortlessly maneuvered and measured her way through our child’s body. At every turn, it seemed as though our doctor nodded his head — almost as if in agreement to himself of his earlier, yet unmentioned, suspicions. It felt like forever, but in reality, a handful of minutes was all it took to get the answers we were looking for. Our doctor looked down at me with kind and compassionate eyes. He squeezed my hand and very softly said, “I’m sorry, but your son is not going to make it.” We were having a little boy and he was going to die.
We spent the next couple of months praying for a miracle while trying to cram a lifetime supply of love and memories into a few short weeks. Each and every day we were able to be together was a blessing. We knew there were so many things Logan would not get to experience in his brief life, but we vowed that he would not leave this earth without at least experiencing the unconditional and overflowing love that every child deserves. No matter how brief Logan’s life may be, we knew he had a purpose.
Our sweet little boy was born six weeks later after my water unexpectedly broke at work. He looked like his daddy — same gorgeous full lips and same dimpled chin. I kissed his warm face, nuzzled his tiny nose with mine, and told him how much I loved him. The love I felt for the child before me was truly indescribable. It’s as if in one moment, I was able to understand (to a small extent) the love Christ has for us. Had there been an option to trade my life for his, I would have done it without a moment’s hesitation. I would have given anything to take his pain away — to cast his illness to the deepest darkest depths of this planet. I knew the overwhelming love I felt for Logan paled in comparison to God’s affection for us — for He loves us with a fierceness we cannot comprehend. But in that very moment, as I held my son in my arms, I saw God more clearly than I ever had before.
Fifty-four minutes is what we were given. For fifty-four minutes, Logan was in our arms and covered from head to toe in our love. I vividly remember watching my husband whisper, “Run to Jesus,” in his little ear and then moments later knowing he was gone.
A week later, I found myself in a graveyard. I remember that day so clearly. I remember watching a tiny white casket lower into the ground and with it, my heart. I didn’t realize it was possible to be jealous of a piece of earth, but in a very strange way, I was — for it would be holding my son when I so desperately wanted to. I remember kneeling by the deep hole and taking in my surroundings. The scene was so unfamiliar — a place I did not know, but a place that would not be foreign for long.
I remember the difficulty in having to physically turn my back on him as I made my way back to the car. With each heavy step, I could hear the beeping of a truck preparing to dump the contents of its bed on top of his casket. I picked up my pace. I didn’t want to hear the sound of massive amounts of earth falling down on my boy. I certainly didn’t want to see it happen. I picked up my pace yet again, but before I could get to the car, I heard the unnerving noise of dirt collapsing behind me. It stopped me in my tracks. It sent sickening chills down my spine and left a grimace on my already puffy face.
It sounded so final. I would be lying to say I didn’t briefly scan my surroundings for a shovel. I cried out to God, “NOW WHAT?! How do I live in a world that is crumbling around me? Now, what do I do with my shaken faith? My broken life? My child — in the ground. My marriage — vulnerable. My work — unimportant. My life — broken. Now what?” That question took weeks, months, and years to figure out. How are grieving parents supposed to jump right back into the world, when theirs is in pieces? That was the day hope felt impossibly far away.
For a long time, I couldn’t help but question the why of it all. I knew God had a plan and is able to work all things for our good, but regardless of those beliefs, certain thoughts still ran uncontrolled in my mind. Why would God give some of us babies just to take them right back again? Why did God even let me get pregnant in the first place?
Many years later (possibly as I became more aware of my need to listen more and talk less), God was gracious enough to give me an answer. He reminded me that this is our temporary home. He made us for eternity, and it’s hard (especially in the wake of loss) to see beyond the here and now. It’s easy to feel like God took my child away, and it seems like such a cruel thing for a loving God to do. But God began to whisper, “I didn’t take your son Jamie… I gave him to you for eternity.”
Such a simple shift in perspective changed it all for me. God received my son — He did not take him. It’s so hard in the midst of grief to think about it forever. But Heaven is real, and my son is there. Our next hello will not end in goodbye, so if I must go through the pain of losing Logan on this side of Heaven to have him for all of eternity — then without question, I’m all in. I know a piece of my heart will continue to ache for the rest of my life. But, I also know that through it all, God is still good.
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