when a baby dies...

>> April 6, 2011

LaRae and her husband are missionaries in a Muslim country in West Africa, where they are developing a public health clinic to serve the medical needs of the people in their village. They live with occasional electricity and running water, and have a son who is 3 years old.
NOTE: LaRae wrote in January (read it here) about caring for Aishatu, a beautiful baby orphan girl with AIDS. By the time that was posted on CLUTCH, LaRae and her husband had successfully initiated adoption proceedings and were looking forward to bringing baby Aishatu home with them on furlough to the USA later this year.
Sadly, Aishatu got sick and died on February 17th. She passed away in LaRae's arms. This is LaRae's first post since Aishatu's loss.

Two people.

That is how I feel sometimes. The person everyone sees, and then the person inside whom only I know. This bipolarity*, split personality*, drives me nuts. Thankfully, it isn’t there all the time. But times of crisis, emotional stress, spiritual depression, change in physical location and the like bring out my second person.

I ask myself "Which one is actually my second person? Who am I really?" This battle has been going on since I was 10 or 11 years old and I often describe it as my prison. Its intensity varies. Now it has again surfaced as I deal with the grief of losing a baby.

I watched a baby die and yet the world goes on like normal! My mind tells me it is no big deal, lots of people have seen someone die. Just because it was my first time doesn’t mean the world should stop. But that last breath, that feeling of utter helplessness is forever burned into my memory, a memory that cannot be put into words. And still everyone goes on like normal and I am forced, merely by being alive, into that flow as well.

My inner person is distraught.

I am dealing with sorrow; wishing time could rewind to try something else; feeling guilt; arguing with myself that I did all I could while I didn’t do enough at the same time.

Meanwhile, my outer person goes on dragging myself out of bed, cooking, cleaning, helping the kids, smiling, visiting people, helping people, and all the other millions of things that come my way. It becomes surreal. A normal life, and a haunting memory of something horrible.

“That would be just like the devil to make you feel guilt at a time like this,” were my mother’s words. Don’t give in, she intoned. I thought about that and realized she was right. There's what I know to be true, and there's the things I keep thinking in my head.

Okay. But how am I to keep going like all is well, when my heart is so heavy I don’t want to get out of bed?

Back up a little. One night my three year old son and I were talking about heaven. I was describing heaven and what God has told us in the Bible -- how we can live close to our family and friends and never have to say good-bye.

“We can also have baby again and she will be healthy!” His little face lit up and then he looked thoughtful. He looked at me and said, “We aren’t sad then any more!” Just this week, when someone asked when he'd have a baby of his own, he answered, “When we go to heaven!”

Watching his matter-of-fact, simple faith, I begin to understand why God said we must become like little children. For them life is simple, straight-forward. Their faith is fresh. But my grief is burdening me. This guilt I am laden with, blinding me to the hope I know.

So how does this change things with my two persons? Neither one is who God made me to be. The outer one is who I think others want me to be, and the inner one fluctuates between being my best friend and worst enemy.

God has asked me to look to Him, not others, as to whom I should be and how I should act. If I go to Him daily, He will write His will so deeply in me that it will become as natural as my DNA. That will take care of the outer person while providing the anchor to my inner person. Who I am inside is made up of my thoughts and what I choose to believe.

By believing God’s word and hiding it in my heart, I will have an anchor when the devil comes with his doubts, fears, complaints, guilt, critiques and anger.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6) And, “If you continue in my word, then you are my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth whall make you free.” (John 8:31,32)

By hiding God’s word in my heart I do experience freedom. Freedom from the devil, from myself,  from others’ expectations.

PS: I still have moments. I still cry. I still ache and feel empty without this little baby girl who was ours for such a short time. But I am encouraged and find strength in the simple faith of my son. Heaven will bring all things new and I can hardly wait for that day.

*Spoken figuratively - not literally! :)

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Carrie April 6, 2011 at 2:34 PM  

I'm so very sorry for your loss! Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

Adel October 15, 2011 at 11:15 PM  

I'm sorry I never read this before now, but I'm glad I read it today. So poignant and vulnerable. I don't know what to say except my heart is with you as I read about your grief, the pain that is so out of your control. God bless as you open your hearts to another little girl!

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