There are people you meet who change you. And then there are those who haven't met--who have never even had a first breath or cry--who change you. Today, I'd like to honor the life of Paige, who was born on October 6, 2000, by sharing how her life and death changed me deeply. I am so grateful to God for her and look forward to meeting her when I get to heaven.
Nine years ago, one of my dearest friends in the world, Joy, called me at 6:30 in the morning crying. I arrived at her house shortly after to care for her son. She left for the hospital unsure of whether the little one she'd been carrying for 17 weeks was going to make it. Other than a huge supply of tears, I felt empty as I dreaded what seemed imminent.
I have never known a darker day than this one.
It was so dark. And I was so inexperienced with grief.
I had no idea what to say...what to not say...how to communicate my deep grief. There were so many questions that day and the days that followed I hadn't ever dealt with before. Was I allowed to grieve deeply as I felt like grieving??? Should I bring up Paige? Should I just wait to see if Joy wants to talk about it?? Should I ask to see Paige's pictures? What do I write in a card? Should I give flowers? If the flowers die, will that make her more sad?
It felt like every option of entering into Joy and Craig's grief was risky. It felt like I could fail at loving them by saying or doing the wrong thing.
I praise God for Joy, because it wasn't long before she called to check in. She didn't wonder what she should say. She shared the story of Paige's birth...about getting to the Emergency Room, the horrible bedside manner of the first doctor, the comfort they took in trusting God even after learning of Paige's death, the painful labor and delivery, the beautiful little baby that they were at first afraid to meet, and how they loved her so deeply, about the true presence of God they both felt in the hospital room. I wanted to know every detail, but would have felt invasive asking. I wanted to know as much about Paige's life as I could. I wanted to hold on to the details of her short earthly life.
In the days that followed, Joy would share with me how people at work wouldn't say anything. They didn't ask how she was, or share their sadness with her over the death of her baby. They just awkwardly entered her office to ask a question, and then took off. (Not all, but many.)
I felt convicted, knowing that I might have acted the same way. And so, I determined to not be that person.
I learned from Joy, through the life and death of Paige, that it is good and right to enter into grief with those who are grieving. It is good and right to take risks that express love, even if I doubt my eloquence. I learned that I don't have to have a close relationship with someone to express my own grief over their loss. I learned that it's better to say something, than to remain silent because I'm afraid it might make them more sad.
I still wish that Paige had lived her first 80 years, or so, of life here on earth.
But, I am grateful to God that He used her life to teach me how to love others better.