I am sorry that I never got to meet you and even more sorry that your last heartbeat came before your first breath. I am sorry that all I know of you is what I saw at your memorial service – a few photos of your feet and hands, a picture of you with your mother and father, hand prints, footprints, tiny little remembrances of who you were and hints of who you might have been.
I cry for you, because I simply cannot imagine the sadness of losing a child and because there is nothing I can to do ease your family’s grief. There are no words that I can say, no truth that I can speak. Nothing…not even the greatest truth of all truths….can relieve the heartbreak of losing you.
Monday, I sat in church and listened as a pastor attempted to eulogize you. Such a difficult thing when your life was lived completely in your mother’s womb. He spoke of allowing ourselves to grieve, and I thought that I would not want to be him…standing in front of a body of believers whose pastor and his wife had lost their full-term baby. I thought that we mourned a child who we did not know and mourned with people we knew well and loved. I thought that no matter how much we mourned, we could not change one moment of sadness, one ounce of your family’s grief.
And, then your mother and father came forward, and I heard your mother say something that I will never forget. She was telling your story, and it was one of confusion, shock and also, and mostly, great love. “Joanna,” she said, “had Down’s Syndrome. People with Down’s are such happy joyful people.”
The rest was lost to me, because suddenly, I was not seeing the candles that surrounded a photo of your tiny hands. I wasn’t seeing the castings of your perfect feet. I was seeing you….not a little baby, but a lovely girl with golden hair and a beautiful smile. Not lying still in the arms of your loving parents, but dancing through fields of wild flowers. I could hear your giggle, Joanna, and I realized that all the words that are spouted about people resting in peace….they are just words. You are not, I do not think, resting anywhere. Oh, no, sweet girl, you are dancing in Heaven, laughing with joy, basking in the love of your Heavenly Father.
How I wish that you could dance here!
For them and for you, I long for that. Knowing that God is sovereign does not mean that I do not wish for a different outcome.
But, you, Joanna?
You have no worries or doubts or questions. You have no regrets. You have seen the fulfillment of the promise. You know the glory of His love. You see already that moment when you are finally in your family’s arms, and you know, too, the reasons why you are not there now.
While we question, you sing praises, and in your voice, I know that there is beauty beyond measure.
I am sure there are people who are thinking of you, snuggled close to Jesus, wrapped firmly in His loving arms. A baby forever.
But, in my mind and heart and thoughts, you will always be a golden haired girl, dancing through wildflowers and giggling with glee.
So, dance on, sweet Joanna! Until we finally meet.