“As the Spirit’s Love shines through you, My healing Presence goes to work in the other person.” Jesus Always
I was up late at night, writing a letter to my son that would be read at his funeral the next day.
Our son was born a few weeks earlier with what we learned was a rare and fatal disorder.
I had started the letter with a lament, the same familiar one I had been repeating over and over to myself after I was released from the hospital. We longed for you to live, my son. We asked, but we didn’t see our miracle. The ones with the capital M’s, the ones people write about and make movies out of.
Then, this next sentence came falling out onto the page.
Here’s the thing, though, sweet boy. We did see other things.
It surprised me.
I kept writing.
We did see other things
We saw nurses who took care of us like we were their family, staying after shifts to sit with us, bringing me their Kleenex from home to replace the sandpaper kind the hospital had.
We saw a friend who drove all day, knocked on my hospital door with coffee in one hand and an overnight bag in the other. Who curled up on the stiff pull-out couch next to my bed and woke up with me every hour as the nurse poked and prodded and checked my vitals before you were born so your dad could spend one night at home with your sisters after many nights away.
We saw a doctor who talked with us for longer than doctors have time to. Who sat on our bed and cried with us when we realized a capital-M miracle weren’t going to happen for us.
We saw church members who showed up in hospital hallways to pray when we couldn’t find the words ourselves.
We saw brothers who showed up with your dad’s favorite food, who hugged him tight as he cried on their shoulder for longer than he ever had before.
We saw sisters who dropped everything to come and sit with your dad and I as we faced the toughest decisions in our lives. Who sat with me while my body recovered from surgery and shock. Who brushed my matted and tangled unwashed hair when I couldn’t do it myself. Sisters who stepped into their position as your aunts without hesitation. Who took pictures with you, commented on your features and your movements and coos through the incubator, who held your hand through the wires and machines, who introduced you to all your cousins through videos and pictures and stories.
We saw grandparents who took care of your sisters so that your dad could spend every minute with you and me. Who cooked and cleaned and cried and drove back and forth between the hospital and our house at all hours of the day. Who explained hard things to little girls. Who prayed and hoped and grieved for you alongside us.
We saw your sisters kiss your tiny head and touch your tiny toes with a tenderness we hadn’t seen from them before. We watched as they talked about how much they loved you with a fierceness that surprised your daddy and I.
We saw pastors and friends who happened to pull into the hospital parking lot just as the doctor told us it was time to say goodbye. The same pastors and friends who had helped me know Jesus so many years ago, who had counseled and married your dad and I, who sat beside us as we held you before you took your last breath. I felt their hands on our shoulders, pressed in and praying for us with tenderness and tenacity.
God is Love. The kind with a capital L.
The list goes on and on. Doctors and nurses who broke rules so we could hold our son. Friends who sent notes filled with poetry and kindness and scripture that comforted us. Meals sent to our table, packages sent to our doorstep and prayers sent up to God.
You see, we did not get our Capital-M Miracle, and I won’t ever know why. What I do know is that what we got instead was the hardest experience of our life, surrounded by beautiful and tender moments of being loved deeply. In those weeks, we experienced a sacrificial and unconditional kind of love from our family and friends and neighbors and strangers, image bearers of God, that I hadn’t experienced before. The kind with a capital L.
Yes, God is a God of miracles. But He doesn’t promise to perform those miracles the way we want Him to.
What we are promised is that God loves us and that we can rely on Him because He is love.
I finished my letter that night and set my alarm so that I could wake up on time to get ready for my son’s funeral in the morning. I was anxious for the day that lay ahead of me, with grief still resting heavy on my heart but confident in God’s love for me.
Kathleen Dawson Clancy is an educator and writer living in a small town outside of Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and one wily dog. They have a son, William, waiting for them in heaven. Kathleen has spent her career serving in nonprofit organizations and the church, while finding as much time as she can to read and write.
You can find Kathleen on her website, Instagram, and Medium.