October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. For many, this month is the only time parents have the chance to share their stories of little ones lost. For others, it doesn’t mean much, maybe a chance to let a friend know that they are thinking of them or, perhaps, give a word of encouragement. For me, it’s a time for reflection, an opportunity to see God’s mighty grasp that He has over my life.
Last week, I participated in a great event called “A Walk to Remember-Forever Footprints.” This gives every family that has lost their precious baby a chance to honor them individually. They get to hear their baby’s name spoken, out loud, without the fear of making others uncomfortable. Let’s face it, it’s hard for people to ask questions, even simple ones like “what happened?” or “How old was your baby?” At this walk, families get to see their baby’s name in print, they get to share the only pictures they will ever have on poster boards and T-shirts. It’s also a place of opportunity. A place where new friendships are formed based on one common denominator, the loss of their child.
I decided to go to the preregistration the day before the event to help avoid long lines. The first thing I saw was the baby memorial wall and I drove straight to it. There were over 400 names on that wall, with my sweet baby’s name dead center. It took me no time at all to find it. Seeing her name instantly sent me through a time warp, a knot formed in my throat and the tears came. I wasn’t expecting to respond the way that I did. I thought I was past these feelings, but at the mention and sight of her name, my heart ached.
It was just myself and God at that wall. I had the time to reflect on where I am and where I was when she born. I was able to think of all the blessings He has given me since; the ability to watch my three other children meet milestones and was able to grieve the fact that Machaela never would. It was definitely a bag of mixed emotions; gratitude for my beautiful family, sense of loss that she would never take her first steps or say her first words.
These unexpected feelings caused me to go back to my very first blog post. https://darlakernell.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/the-sacred-dance-of-grief/
The words written there were real, raw and full of pain. As I sat reading them, I couldn’t help but to feel humbled that God has brought me so far from that pain. He has answered so many questions that I had. Some of the words written in that post were straight out of a diary I had kept just days after we said goodbye to her. Bible story after Bible story flooded my mind and it all started to make sense. I was that woman who had “great faith” in Him, yet God seemed distant and quiet. I believed so much that God would miraculously heal her, yet He didn’t. Did God not hear me? God heard me. Silence from our Lord is a great and mighty trial, I realize now that being tested in faith then and rewarded later is a bigger gift. Were my prayers not good enough that I didn’t warrant a miracle? My prayers were good enough and He did give me a miracle, just not in the way I expected it to. My prayers proved my acknowledgement that I am weak and powerless without Him. Was my faith not real? It was real, so much that He continues to work in my life. The peace that comes with faith will arrive, just not instantaneously. I was reminded that peace came but only after I softened my heart and accepted God’s grace. Did I not deserve a chance at being a mother? I was a mother, just not in the way I wanted to be. God’s will and plan are greater than any plan I could come up with. I was gifted knowing that the seed of my womb may have been born imperfect but was instantaneously made perfect the moment she went into the arms of Jesus.
Her life mattered. Her life transformed me into the woman I am today. It’s taken me decades to get where I am and I still don’t have it figured out and I won’t until I get to meet Him face to face. Even then, it’s up to God to reveal details of all the why’s. All I know today is that my sweet girl was given to me so that I would learn to cling to Jesus. He is a power greater than anything I could hold in my arms on this earth. I know that he gave me this story so that I can glorify Him, bear witness of His grace and share with others how weeping can turn into joy. I encourage you to read the words I wrote so long ago only so that you can see how far God has brought me. Keep in mind that, “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” Romans 5:3-4
It is my hope and prayer that you will find your hope and place your faith in God, no matter what your circumstances are. I thank God every day for His patience with me and not leaving me, even when I was angry with Him. I am forgiven and you are too!
Rest in Peace in the great arms of Jesus, Machaela Anne Kernell. ‘Til we meet again.
God is good every day and everyday God is good.