June 27, 2012

The Gift of A Name

Nine years ago I met Katherine and we were instant friends. And much to our delight, our husbands became friends, too. We took our first and only couples vacation with Katherine and Geoff and over the years, we have shared in dinners and events too many to count.

Jason and I love Geoff and Katherine. Knowing them has made us better in all the ways that count. It’s no small thing to find friends that do that for you.

Over two years ago, Katherine and I became pregnant at the same time. We both had one miscarriage behind us (though not far from our minds) and I found out I was pregnant first.

I remember calling Katherine and telling her our news but I did it with a spirit of dread- I just could not get excited about news that I knew could make her sad. Katherine was so generous with her congratulations for me- this was not at all a surprise.

But just days later she called me and told me she was pregnant, too! Oh that made me so happy and I told her “Now I can be fully happy about my baby!”

For weeks we would check in on each other and talk each other through the symptoms (or lack of them) because there is an element of fear that takes root after you have had a miscarriage.

I felt so fortunate to be able to journey through that second pregnancy with such a dear friend and knowing that we were just days apart in our November due dates was just too perfect. It just was.

It really was.

But then we lost our baby. We saw a heartbeat one day and then three days later there was no sign of life.

Katherine had her first appointment the week after we had ours and I remember feeling physically ill- I could not bear to hear good news from her but I also could not bear to hear bad news.

But thanks be to GOD, she got good news at her visit and so began what would be a complicated dance for us both. It’s the dance of of anticipation and longing. of life to come and death that is. of joy and grief.

And in that season I made the choice to distance myself from Katherine because it was too hard to talk to her and know that she was where I had so desperately wanted to be. I am not saying it was the best decision- it was very selfish- but it was all I knew to do to be able to cope with my loss.

Well the time came for the baby to be born and the day "S" was born I cried something fierce. My tears were hot and never-ending and after crying most of the day, I willed myself to stop and I forced myself to think past my own loss and try to feel what Katherine must have been feeling: elation and joy over the birth of her daughter.

Her daughter. She had a daughter. My friend, who had wanted a baby for so long, finally had one to hold in her arms. And for a brief time I felt that with her. And I sent her a message of congratulations before my tears took over once again.

I did not know how I would respond the day her baby was born- nothing was ever written about what to expect the day a baby is born around the same time yours was supposed to be born but I would venture to say it was as sad as I had expected it to be.

Slowly I came around and visited "S" three months after she was born. It felt so good to hold her and look her in the eyes and breathe her in and talk to her and feel the grip of her hand on my finger.

She was finally here and meeting her was like a healing balm for my breaking heart. Funny how someone so small and so new can do that for you.

And so began mine and Katherine’s journey to re-connect. We had a good heart-to heart after that visit and I’ll just say that I am so grateful for Katherine’s generous spirit and her willingness to allow me back into her life even after I hurt her by stepping away from it for a time.

Since "S"’s birth, Katherine has seen me through three more miscarriages and she has always been faithful to pray me through the pain and grief. Always.

I remember when she shared with me that she was pregnant again and I will admit that I felt jealous, but I moved myself to a place of “rejoicing with those who rejoice” and from that day on I have been happy for my friend and excited to see her family grow.

It was about a month ago that Katherine phoned to ask me something I was not expecting. She told me that she and Geoff had decided on a name for their second daughter and then she asked how I felt about them giving her my name as her middle name.

When she shared why she wanted to do this I did the only thing I could: I cried. What a beautiful gift. What a remarkable way to honor the lives of our babies and the journey we have been on.

A name does not rust. or perish. Nor can it be torn. or thrown out. A name does not wither. or wilt.

A name lives on and on.

And so, just a few days ago, a sweet little girl was born into this world and she was given a name filled with meaning- here is part of what her parents wrote upon announcing her arrival (I am not sharing her full name or the full announcement to keep some privacy):

“A” is also named for our dear friend, Justine, whose journey to bring a baby into the world has been marked by pain and grief. In giving our daughter this name, we desire to remember the babies Justine and her husband Jason have conceived and lost, to recognize the sorrow that child-bearing in this life can bring, and to honor Justine and Jason’s steadfastness and faithfulness to the God who promises to make all things new.

Thank you, Katherine and Geoff, for thinking to honor our babies and our story in such a meaningful and lasting way.

And welcome to the world baby "A!" We are so excited to watch you grow in stature and in GOD's love for you.

1 comment:

Leash said...

Justine, as soon as I heard the news and the baby's middle name I instantly knew that the girl would be blessed to share her name with such a Godly woman. You have been a great role model and friend to many including me. Please know that yes, I cannot share your grief but I cried that day too in sadness and happiness. I LOVE you!