When You Walk Away With Empty Arms

Babies aren’t supposed to die. They’re supposed to be born, grow up, and die when they’re old and gray adults. But we live in a fallen world and sometimes the fallout lands on us.

Lucie would be 6 years old today had she lived. It’s hard to believe that much time has passed, and yet in some ways, it feels like yesterday. 

Her then not yet 16-year-old Mom was one of my clients. We knew early on Lucie would die shortly after being born, so we had time to prepare. . . if you can ever prepare for holding life and death in your hands within minutes of each other. Together we clung to God’s rope of hope and experienced the presence of God in the midst of great sorrow and suffering. It was a presence that empowered the young Mom, “T”, to survive the scars and planted seeds of hope that eventually blossomed. Today she is a thriving young woman in her senior year of college with dreams of going into the medical field.

Sometime this morning, “T” will call me, as she has every February 9th. We always spend a few minutes catching up with each other, but mostly, we share tears yet again. Six years ago our tears intermingled on the most heartbreaking day of her life; the day baby Lucie breathed her first and last breaths. The following day she walked away from the hospital with empty arms and a broken heart. Today, her aching arms are still empty, but her broken heart is mending, knowing God is using this in her life; and knowing one day she will see Lucie again in heaven–strong, healed, and whole.

Tears are a strange sort of gift God uses as a conduit to fill the broken hearted with His other gifts. 

The rest of this post is from my journal dated February 9, 2011. May it bring someone with empty arms a gentle hug filled with comfort and hope.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

“In some ways life has flown by this week, and yet in other ways, life stood still.  It’s been a week of savoring both the sacredness and the sorrows of life.  I’ve seen grace abound, yet I’ve also pleaded for more in the dark hours of grief, fumbling to make sense of how life and death come from the same Hand at nearly the same moment.

I’ve witnessed first hand an umbilical cord cut, ushering in new life; only to watch that life silently pass.  Like a butterfly’s dance in the wind, so has life been this week; a thing of beauty and grace, fluttering about and then suddenly it is no more.

The grace of God has trained us for this moment. Forced to feel the burn of pain in order to benefit from the fruit of His grace both now and later.  We knew life and death would come partnered together.

But it’s hard.

It’s hard to listen to a mother’s sweet voice singing tender lullabies to her child and minutes later hear the guttural tones of a mother’s heart being ripped from her chest.

I sat helpless by her side holding them both in my arms. Were the bitter tears I tasted my own or hers? I could not tell for they were mingled together.

“God, shower your grace upon us!  Help us see You through this pelting storm!” My heart cried silently – I think. Maybe I whispered it aloud. Maybe that’s why I tasted the salty, bitter tears.

I may have been the teacher, the mentor, the life coach through all of this, but He has taught me life lessons as well. Lessons I need to write down as reminders of these gifts He’s given me this week, gifts cloaked in sadness and pain as well as some with great joy.”

Processing Life’s Gifts
( More from my journal entry from February 9, 2011)

“When I look only for blessings through the conduit of happy times and prayers answered ‘my way’ as an assurance of His love, I’m limiting my experience of God.  All things come to me through His hand. Dare I only select the tastiest seeds to dine on and ignore the seeds that don’t taste as sweet?  Are they not both meant for my good?

His gift to me is the full vocabulary of life’s poetry and sometimes there are words and stanzas of sorrow and grief.

As I listened to this young mother’s songs of lullabies and laments, I’ve realized His gift is all the music, even the discordant phrases and movements that are sometimes difficult and tragic. There is beauty to behold in His singing over me.

I can be as enthralled by life and it’s stony and sometimes thorny paths as I can be with its sunshine and flowers.

The full measure of life’s gifts include brokenness and trials, the kinds that transform me for His glory.

Those hard things that surround me can not destroy or harm me. Sometimes that hard place is actually God Himself standing up against that which seeks to destroy my faith.  He’s my rock, my refuge, my fortress, a sheltering strong tower.

More than having life my way, He is what I want.

He is Life’s Gift.”


2 thoughts on “When You Walk Away With Empty Arms

  1. Iris

    Powerful message, Marsha. I love what you said about the choosing only the good. Life is not easy for sure. The bad moments are truly the ones that shape us on who we are in Him.

  2. Laurie

    What a heart felt, heart gripping post. We’ve lost 7 grandbabies and the pain never goes away but God helps us thru each difficult day to see the beauty of what He has blessed us with…5 beautiful grandbabies that are healthy and amazing.

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