On June 11 I was laying on my bed. My body physically ached from the crying spells. Sometimes taken off guard the grief comes like ocean waves, brutally knocking me down and pulling me under. I refuse to get pulled out to sea. My grip remains firm on God, my Rock and Saviour–His grip holds me even tighter. As I laid there on my bed I heard the mirthful melody of a Kona Ice truck (ice cream truck) off in the distance. They aren’t the typical ice cream trucks I remember from my childhood. No ear drum lacerating renditions of Zippity Doo Dah being looped over and over again. No scary shirtless driver that looked like he’d just woken up 15 minutes prior, at 6 PM.
I got excited for a second because in the past I’ve heard their trucks play their version of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds. “How perfect and cool that would be,” I thought to myself as the music grew louder and more discernible. I was momentarily disappointed when I identified the steel drum, happy island music as Will Smith’s Summer Time. The truck circled through the cul de sac and cheerfully drove away onto another part of the subdivision.
I resumed my deliberate endeavor to keep my focus where it belongs when I heard the truck go past the top of our street again in the opposite direction. It was playing a different song. I listened quietly and intently to try and name that tune. At first I thought I was imagining it, because WHY would an ice cream truck be playing Happy Birthday?! So I got up off of the bed and opened the window to get a better listen… “Haaaappy birthday to you…”. Tears. Beloved happy tears as the truck made it’s way down the next street over.
No, the message didn’t come dramatically blaring down the street and delivered to me with a bow on top like I had hoped. God has had no trouble getting in my face, being loud and clear when He needs or wants to. However, this was an instance where had the things around me been too loud and too busy, I would have missed it altogether. If I hadn’t made the deliberate effort to get up off the bed, walk over to the window, open it and listen carefully, I wouldn’t have heard it. Sometimes I have to take the effort to really listen, to get up and “open the window” of my heart. This is as much a statement as it is a reminder to myself.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalm 46:10 NIV)
The evening of June 17th was one of those moments when God was undeniably and beautifully obvious — again like with Ali’s headstone! While seeing sweet friends out the door who had brought us dinner I discovered a beautiful miniature rose plant and a thick envelope on my front porch. I brought this nice surprise inside after saying goodbye to Tonya & Ella and sat down to read the letter:
Where do I begin?
First, let me express my deep sympathy for your loss. I can’t fathom the depth of the emotions you are all feeling with the passing of sweet Nora. I know you are comforted to know that she is happy and healed and whole. She is right now, and forever more, experiencing a bliss that you and I have never known.
I know that so many have reached out to you in your grief. I recognize that it can all be so overwhelming, especially at a time when you and your family want to hold each other close and shut out the world. I will try to be brief. I just wanted to offer you one more story of how you and Nora made a huge impact.
I am a Florida native. I have 2 sons who are now 14 and 12. I wanted another child but could never get my husband to agree. It caused a rift between us. I prayed that God would either change my heart or his, because the pain I felt aching for another child was too great. The heart God changed was mine. I became resigned to life with our two boys and I was happy. I homeschooled them. We traveled. We enjoyed times outdoors.
A little over a year ago, I missed my period. I figured I was starting menopause. Still, I wondered if I could be pregnant. I took a test and was shocked to learn that, yes, I was pregnant at 40 years old. We were thrilled, especially my youngest. We knew that a new baby would bring big changes, but we were happy to make them. I realized that God had answered my prayers of long ago and had given me the desire of my heart.
You have to understand that I was sure that this baby was a gift from God to us. We weren’t trying to get pregnant, but God had ordained it. We have great insurance which covered prenatal testing. I chose the new cell-free DNA test (Materni-21), not because we suspected a problem, but because it would allow us to know the baby’s sex about 4 weeks earlier than with ultrasound. I had the test and waited anxiously to learn whether we’d be having a boy or a girl. We went on a vacation we had planned. On our return home, we learned that my father-in-law had been admitted to the ICU and wasn’t doing well. My husband made tracks to Orlando (about an hour away) and kept bedside vigil.
Meanwhile, it was time to be hearing back from my doctor about the lab results. I thought that being able to tell my father-in-law whether we’d be having a boy or a girl would give him something to fight for. My first clue that something was wrong came when the nurse told me by phone that she had the results but that the doctor would have to review them first. At 8:00 pm the night of July 3, we got a call from my doctor. I prepared myself to hear that the baby had Down’s syndrome. Instead, we learned that our child had trisomy 18. Never having heard of t18, my doctor explained that the disorder was “incompatible with life”. We were told that most of these babies don’t make it to birth. Those that do may only live hours or days. She said that it was possible that the results were wrong but we could have an amnio to be sure. We were devastated.
I can’t describe the depths of my despair. I felt betrayed by God. Why would He have given me this baby only to take it away? And why was this happening NOW, when my father-in-law was dying? It was almost too much to bear.
With the limited information we had been given, we strongly considered abortion. Although vehemently opposed to it, the thought of carrying a child that I might never see seemed impossible. We figured that if our baby was going to die anyway, why not let it happen now. We thought that continuing the pregnancy would be too much for me, the boys…
About that time, I got up the nerve to search the internet for information about t18. Much of what I found echoed what I’d been told. BUT, I kept coming across YOUR blog in my searches. My cousin had been following your blog for awhile and suggested it to me too. So I took the plunge and began reading it.
First, I was surprised to learn that Nora had not only survived to birth, she was still going strong! That knowledge gave me hope and encouraged me to find out more about children with t18 who live past infancy.
I went back to the first chronicles of your blog while you were still pregnant. I will never be able to tell you how comforting it was to read my own thoughts and fears mirrored in your words. You understood how hard it was to feel your child move inside you, to love her while never knowing if you’d ever get to hold her alive. You understood how how painful it was to be approached by strangers who would ask if I was excited about my baby. After all, babies always bring happiness, right? I swallowed your words for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Your blog brought me hope. That hope helped me to cry out to God for my child. I came to realize that I could never end my baby’s life. My baby, a son, was given life by God and it was God and God alone who had the right to decide when to take that life.
We did lose my father-in-law. He never knew that there was anything wrong with our baby. He left this earth, desiring another grandchild so much. As God planned it, my father-in-law got to see my son before we did. At my 30 week check up, they couldn’t find my son’s heartbeat. He had died sometime that day. They admitted and induced me. Aden Chase Moon was born on October 16, 2013 surrounded by friends and family.
What I could never express in a letter is how much the experience changed me. It grew my faith to new levels. My appreciation for life and loved ones increased. My whole perspective changed. One little boy, who never took a breath, changed my life and the lives of many around me. And that may have never happened if I hadn’t found your blog. If you hadn’t been faithful to document your journey, I may have given in to the temptation of taking “the easy way out”. I owe the amazing changes in my life to you.
Fast forward a few months. My husband applied for a promotion and got it. After much prayer, my family is making the bold move to leave Florida, our family and friends and head north. In fact, I write this on the airplane. We close on our house tomorrow.
Do you know where we are moving? Do you know where God is sending us? To Kentucky in the exact same town that you live in. We found a house in the neighboring subdivision back in March. I had no idea where you lived. I knew it was somewhere north, as I knew you took vacations to the Great Lakes. I didn’t know exactly where you lived until after Nora had passed. One of your neighbors had posted to the Praying for Nora Rose page and I saw that she was posting from the town that I was moving to.
It may not mean as much to you, but it was pretty amazing to me to learn that the woman (and family) who changed my life so radically will be in my new hometown. I’ve been so anxious about our move away from home, but once I learned that you are in the EXACT SAME neighborhood, I realized yet again that God’s got this. He’s still writing my story.
I’m no stalker, and I don’t expect us to be best friends. I just wanted to let you know how you were used by God so richly in the life of my family.
I pray for you and your family. Losing Chase was the hardest thing I’ve ever endured. I can only imagine how much harder it would have been if he’d lived for two years prior to passing.
You have blessed me deeply. Please let me know if there is anything tangible I can do for you. I am always available if you ever want to talk. I’m here to listen, and I’ll understand.
God bless you,
I sat there on the couch with this now tear-streaked, awe inspiring letter in my lap. “How in the world?!?!” I asked God out loud with an astonished smile. What a gift — for BOTH OF US!!! The God who created the vast and complex universe loves each of us so much that He will get down on His knee to our microlevel and ardently attend to our wounds.
Kristin left me her phone number in her letter. While I was with Gavin at his kickball league the next morning I texted Kristin to let her know I got her letter and I would call later in the day. She texted back that they’d were leaving at 4:00 to head back to Florida. They were only in town for the closing on their new house. I absolutely HAD to meet her and give her a hug before they left!!! Our incredible meeting took place about an hour later at her beautiful “soon to be” HOME!
We embraced in a tearful hug, unable to explain, but so grateful that God brought us together in such a way! Kristin introduced me to her precious family and we got to know each other just a little bit. I am looking so forward to getting to know them better, their new faces becoming familiar faces. God is just AWESOME. He will bring two women, two families together across 825 miles to support and love one another in their mutual losses. I think I can quit asking, “What are the odds!?!?!” because so many of these things, plain and simply, defy logic. I certainly didn’t need to be still and quiet for this gift that literally showed up on my doorstep, and then I on hers ~
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge (emphasis mine) —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV)