After spending last week at the eye doctor, Saturday night in the emergency room with Daniel's broken arm, and this morning at the pediatrician, a story came to mind for Memorial Box Monday. This beautiful idea comes from Linny at A Place Called Simplicity. She encourages her readers to collect items that trigger a memory of God's goodness and faithfulness in their lives. Click the bloggy button below to read her wonderful stories and link to other readers' Memorial Box stories. (By the way, while you're there read Linny's posts from last week called "How to Hear God Speak." Good stuff.)
Every time my kids cry at the doctor I tell them "I wish I could take the pain for you." It makes me think of our Heavenly Father. He loves us so much more than we can imagine. He understands our pain and grief and sorrow because Christ carried it on the cross. I have felt moments where I know God is right beside me saying, "I wish I could take this pain for you . . . in fact, I HAVE taken this pain for you."
The story that comes to mind today took place in April of 2004. Many of my Memorial Box stories happened in the year 2004 (the year of our "valley of the shadow of death") or during our two and a half year adoption of Daniel. God's hand is most evident during times of darkness, His faithfulness most evident during times of trial. And although seas weren't parted that morning six years ago, few times have I ever felt God's peace and presence more.
For those of you who are new readers, January 9, 2004, we lost a baby boy 36 weeks into my pregnancy. Eight weeks later we lost my mom to cancer. (The full story of my mom and Baby Luke is here.) Three months after losing our son, we were blessed with another pregnancy (there's a Memorial Box story there that I'll share another day). Although we were grateful for this new life, I can't tell you how difficult it was to start again down the same road that had ended in such pain. I can't explain how hard it was to go from third trimester back to first.
We had decided to stick with our doctor and midwives. Although our last pregnancy had ended tragically, they had been wonderful and already knew my history. I was just a few weeks pregnant with this new life and went to the doctor for an early visit to check my hormone levels. (I've also had three first-trimester miscarriages so they were watching me closely.)
When I walked into that doctor's office, it was overwhelmingly painful. The waiting room was full of very pregnant women and new moms with their newborns. Just months before I had been in that waiting room feeling my baby kick--absolutely giddy that he would soon be in my arms. But that day my arms ached with emptiness.
I approached the window to sign in and the receptionist remembered me. The staff knew me by name because with all my high-risk issues, I was a frequent patient. But apparently she didn't know we had lost our son because she asked, "Did you bring your baby with you for your postpartum visit?!" I didn't know how to answer without turning into a puddle of tears. I leaned over and whispered, "Our son didn't make it." I know she felt so badly and she quickly apologized, but it was salt in a wound that was already causing excruciating pain.
I found a seat as far away from the other patients as possible. I began to pray for God's strength and peace. I felt like a little kid who had walked up the ladder on the high dive. As I stood on the platform looking below at another nine months of this, I just wanted to run. I told God that I just couldn't do it. I needed to feel His peace and His presence or I was going to walk out of the doctor's office.
This was also just weeks after losing my mom. Oh, how I wished I could have her with me that day. Holding my hand, filling out forms, telling me everything would be okay. She would have given me a pep talk. She would have answered the receptionist's question. She would have found something funny in all this awful to make me laugh. She would have played a game of "eye spy" like we did when I was little to take my mind off things. She would have prayed with me.
I picked up a magazine and pretended to read it. Then a lady came over and sat next to me. She was obviously not pregnant and was probably in her mid-50's so I guessed she was there for an annual visit. She simply said, "Are you having a rough morning?" I nodded trying to hold back my tears. (Later in the bathroom I discovered that my chest and neck had broken out in hives from the stress, so she didn't need to be a detective to see that I wasn't glowing like the other patients.)
I didn't want to invite her to my pity-party for one (and didn't want to download my sorrows on this poor lady who was about to encounter the stirrups herself), so all I offered as response was, "I'm a high-risk patient so these visits are stressful." She leaned over and put her hand on mine and said, "It's going to fine. I just know it." I thanked her for her kindness.
She was so calm, so reassuring, and I was so grateful for this soft-spoken stranger who was perhaps being obedient to God letting her know I could use a friend. She sat next to me until her name was called. And that's when I started laughing at God's sense of humor. The lady sitting with me had the same name as my mom--Dixie.
Now, I've read a lot of baby name books over the years, and Dixie has never been in the top 10 on any list. In fact, the only other Dixie I've ever known was the actress Dixie Carter. Had my mom been given a common name, I would have written off this encounter as coincidence, but to hear my mom's name called out that morning was that little reassurance that I needed that God was with me and perhaps even she was with me in spirit.
The next nine months were so hard, but from then on I had such peace that God was by my side in the waiting rooms, the examining rooms, and the delivery room. So in my Memorial Box I'm going to put a "Hi, My Name is Dixie" name tag. It's a reminder that God is with us when we feel the most alone. When we are the most afraid. When we need His comfort and peace to remind us that not only would He take our burden from us . . . He already did.
More Than Lots,