One day I was dancing around with my son Micah. Micah is severely handicapped and an identical twin to Spencer who passed away 8 days after they were born due to prematurity and other complications due to TTTS. We were laughing and giggling and having so much fun. And then the thought came “I will never dance with him at his wedding” and suddenly I was sobbing, and I was picturing Spencer in heaven falling in love with a special sweet angel before Micah joined him there and feeling sad that they wouldn’t even get to experience that together, and then I was sad about all of the double dating and dances and all of the “might have beens” that I hadn’t thought of and grieved yet, and ya, sobbing. Grieving a child is like that, you don’t just grieve because you lost your child, you also have to grieve all of the dreams and “might have beens” that will never happen (at least in this life). Sometimes, around anniversaries of when things happened, you expect grief, you almost welcome it. Other times it sneaks up on you and whacks you upside the head. Hard. And while yes, grief is hard, really hard, grief is important because it signifies we have loved. If we didn’t love, we wouldn’t grieve. There is no shame in grief. I have learned something important since the birth of my twins. I have learned that grief and peace can co-exist. Despair and peace cannot, because despair indicates a lack of hope, but grief and peace can, because hope can be present, can sit beside and hold the hand of grief.
These are some of the things I have hope for. I have hope that one day I will have the opportunity to raise my Spencer in a perfect world. I have hope that Micah will one day have a perfect body and mind and he will have voice to what is inside of him. I have hope that while dancing at their weddings won’t happen, my twins will have the opportunity to fall in love and choose a companion to spend eternity with. I have hope that after the resurrection my boys will have perfect bodies to match their tremendous spirits. I have hope that one day my family will be whole and complete and together, never to be parted again. I can hope for those things, because I believe the promises God has made to his children. He has provided a Savior for us who -because he was willing to drink the bitter cup and not shrink -made it possible for us to repent and return to heaven with God the Father. Because he was resurrected, he broke the bands of death, so while our bodies and spirits are separated for a time, after the Second Coming they will be joined again eternally.
Hope and peace are a result of faith in Jesus Christ. I have come to believe that faith is strengthened, and hence hope and peace are strengthened, when we choose to trust God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths”. As i have chosen to trust God, even when I don’t understand, my peace has increased. I can turn over all of the “why’s, why this, why now, why me, why didn’t, why not” to him, and just trust that he is in control and “all will be made right through the atonement of Christ”. When I choose to trust, I find peace in knowing that my eternal well being and happiness are of paramount importance to Heavenly Father, and so is that of my children- that their eternal happiness and well being is just as important to him, and I can trust them to him.
Four days after my twins were born I had just returned to my hospital room to pump when the nurse called me down “Spencer is not doing well, you need to come back”. HIs Dad was 2 hours away working and so I stood by his bedside, my finger resting on him through the incubator window praying ““Dear God, I need a miracle, please help him to hold on until his Dad gets here, please, help him recover, I’m not ready to say good-bye yet, please, please, I need a miracle. Please God, not yet. Not yet.” That prayer was answered with a yes, and Spencer stabilized. That same day, only a few hours later the doctors sat down with us for a care conference for each of or boys. They ran through the list of every single thing going wrong for our boys and when I said “so you’re saying they will probably be disabled” they said, “no, we think that they are so sick that they are not going to make it and you need to seriously consider letting them go. Both of them. “ We had fought so long for our boys, we couldn’t just “let them go”, but also realized that perhaps God’s plan was not our plan, so our prayer became “Dear Father in Heaven, we love our boys, and do not want to let them go, but if you need them, that is okay too. So, if it is alright with Thee, we are going to hang on to our boys as long as they stay the same, or get better. If they worsen then we will know they are being called home, and we will let them go.” The following Tuesday the hospital called- Spencer’s bowel had perforated (gotten a hole in it)- he was dying. On the long (45 min) drive to the hospital I looked out the window and prayed again. “God, I know he can be healed, I know thou hast the power to bind up the holes. I know miracles are possible. But if not, if he is being called home, then I give him to Thee, Father in heaven. I am giving him to you. Please take care of him for me.”
I listened to a sermon by David A. Bednar who tells of counseling with a couple who was facing a cancer diagnosis. He tells of opening his mouth and the words “you have the faith to be healed. Do you have the faith to not be healed?” coming out. He then went on to talk about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego when facing King Nebuchadnezzar and the fiery furnace. They said “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Elder David A. Bednar then went on to talk about how we need to develop the faith to be able to say “but if not we will still remain faithful”. The faith to accept that when the answer is no, it doesn’t mean God has stopped loving us, or that we have done something wrong. It simply means that God’s eternal perspective, his omniscience and omnipotence recognize that no is the better eternal answer- even if we don’t understand it here and now.
I look back and wonder sometimes how we were able to do that. How we were able to have the faith to say “but if not”, and then go forward with faith when that was indeed our answer. As I’ve thought about that as I’ve made numerous attempts at writing this blog post this past week and more, Two things stick out to me. The first is because we (my husband and I) had been taught ever since we were little that part of our purpose for being here on earth was to be tested- to go through trials so we could show our faith by turning to God rather than away from him- that life is meant to have opposites; joy and pain, sickness and health, good and evil, and we have to experience both sides in order to comprehend both sides, and the core of our beliefs- that families are eternal, that we all be together again as a family throughout eternity. The second, and I think maybe the strongest reason, is that we both were confident in God’s love for us. We knew of his love for all mankind through the sending of his Son, Jesus Christ to redeem all of God’s children and be resurrected. But we also knew of His love for us as individuals. I knew through previous answered prayers, through the love from others exhibited towards me, through the testifying to my heart through the Holy Ghost when I sought to know if he was real, and specifically if he loved me. I knew he loved me because of the times he used me to answer someone else’s prayer.I knew he loved me because of the peace and comfort I received after a miscarriage right before I got pregnant with my twins. Because we had learned to recognize and feel His love for us, making the choice to trust him, to have faith in him, was not hard.
We also had faith that while the answer might be no, he would not abandon us, but would sustain us, carry us, walk with us, comfort us. We would not be alone. Isaiah 53:3-4 says “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: ... Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: …” While before the loss of Spencer I believed this, now I know this to be true, he knows my pain and with perfect empathy has been with me each step of my journey. Matthew 11:28-29 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
And John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
I have felt his rest, I have felt his peace, I know it is real. For if it wasn’t- I would not be me. I would not walk daily with a smile on my face, joy in my heart, and a desire to serve and lift others. If his peace was not real, I would not have continued adding children to my family (we now have 8 boys). I can’t even begin to think how very dark and fearful and despairing my life would be without the gift of His peace.
This January will be the 10 year mark of the beginning of our TTTS story. While I would never wish to lose my son and the dreams of what having twins would mean, I am grateful that God has helped me use that (ongoing) experience to draw closer to Him, and (hopefully) become more like Him. His love is real. He is real.