Thursday, February 23, 2012

For Lily, on her 5th Heavenly Birthday

Lily (originally written in 2007)

Grappling with grief, I rage against God for taking another baby. In my prayers, in tears I demanded that He let her stay. “Not this baby, Lord.” I stated, clenching my teeth in determination. “You can’t have this one. No more babies can die. Enough.” But God, for His reasons and in His omnipotence, ignored my tantrum and my bossiness, and carried out His own perfect plan.

For the past few days, I have been very angry with God. And every time I look at my son, who was three days before Lily and shares her temperament, smile, and eyes, I am afraid. I kept asking myself why your family was chosen. Why your family was had to live through parent’s nightmare.

But then, I thought about Lily, and the few short hours that I was privileged to spend with her. And I know, from that time I spent with her, that she was one in a million. And that at only 3 months old, God had already uniquely equipped her for the short, intense life that He had planned for her. He knew from the very beginning what Lily’s path was … even when none of us did.

I met Lily at Lindsey White’s funeral. A sad way to meet someone, but Lily wasn’t sad. In fact, Lily was one of the only children that wasn’t sad that day. The sparse room was filled with babies, all laid out on Lily’s colorful blankets (which she happily shared). All of the other babies were fussing and crying, but Lily wasn’t. She was smiling and wriggling on her little blanket. She was calm. She was happy. She was content.

I hoisted her in my lap. I say hoist, because Lily was VERY heavy, like a little lumpy sack of potatoes, in the best sense. “I thought my baby was big!” I crowed. “I can’t believe how big and strong this baby is!” When Brian came to pick Lily up, we proudly handed her to him. Out of all of the babies, she was clearly the favorite, and she was the only baby that I and the other workers paid a compliment to. (I am not one to hand out compliments about babies). “Your baby is so happy,” we said to Brian. “She didn’t cry once. All of the other babies have been screaming and crying this entire time, but not Lily. She is a very special little girl.” Brian smiled, held Lily in one arm, and agreed with us. But none of us yet knew just how special she was.

Some of us study for years to prepare for college. We spend hours in front of a mirror preparing for the prom, or our weddings. There are many things that we believe our children were meant to do. But Lily was never meant to do those things. God prepared her in advance for the good works that she had to do, and she was well equipped. For a brief, shining moment, we all were able to see just how special Lily truly was, and that God’s design for our lives is much greater than we could ever map out.

In that day in that make-shift nursery, I saw all of the character qualities that would enable Lily to face her path. Her smile, her calm, her generosity, her strength. The family that clearly took such joy and pride in being entrusted with such an amazing little girl. That day marked one of the last days before Lily’s diagnosis.

A few days after I had taken my own son in for his monthly check-up, I heard what had transpired at Lily’s. “Not Lily!” I exclaimed. “She’s so big and strong and healthy and happy!” Of all the children in that nursery that day, no one could ever have guessed. But as Lily faced each trial, as I read the Carepages posts and saw her pictures, I was not surprised in the least. Even in intense pain, her character was still the same – in fact, it grew even stronger. I heard that she smiled at doctor’s, and I thought, “That’s Lily. She was so calm. She was so happy, even in all the chaos.” And when I heard that her size helped her in her battle, I smiled. “That’s why God made her so big and strong. He knew all along!” And when I heard that Lily was a fighter, I believed that too.

I had never met you all, but I did know Lily. As as her tiny body was broken and bruised, the sweet aroma that was this tiny flower poured out for all to inhale. I never thought that 2 hours of babysitting in the rain would be such a blessing. And I never thought that missing a funeral to take care of a child would be the greater blessing. But it was. Because that morning, wet and late as I was, I got the privilege of meeting an incredible human being. And each day, as I look at my son— Lily’s personality twin— and watch him grow, I will see Lily’s smile in his, and Lily’s joy in his very own big blue eyes. And I will remember to hug longer, speak softer, and kiss fat cheekies more.

And for my daughter Katie, who met both Baby Lindsey and “Baby Loly” (as she calls her) and prayed for them both, I know that she now has two friends waiting for her in heaven one day, with eternal princess tea parties, sparkly tiaras, and oversized pearl necklaces. With two of her little friends going to heaven in such a short time span, I truly think that she believes that heaven must be an extra special place. And if someone as wonderful as Lily is there, then I ‘m a little less scared to join them.


  1. Kath, this is a sad, but beautifully written celebration of a life. What did baby Lily die from? I just had a 45 minute drive today to and then from a specialist doctor's appointment and on the drive I was listening to my "This Moment" cd by Steven Curtis Chapman which is basically his heart in song after Maria's death and it is amazing how even after heart breaking loss, there is still so much hope for those who love the Lord.

  2. Lily had leukemia. She was born two days after Colt.

  3. You are so eloquent with words. Perhaps someday I will write about my son Jacob who has been waiting in Heaven to great his great great grandparents, his great grandparents, his grandparents and someday he will meet me...he has been gone 33 years and many days it feels like yesterday!