The Great Mystery of Life and Death

Photo Credit: Andre Mouraux via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Andre Mouraux via CC Flickr

I came across this fantastic story on truthbook.com that was a heartwarming and beautiful promise that everyone of us should share. It is my hope that this story touches your heart as much as it did mine.

I was about five months pregnant at the time when I came to know — the kind of knowing that seeps into the marrow of your bones — something of the undivided nature of God.

My husband and I had been through a very soul-seering month or so in which we were told that our daughter could have a devastating congenital disease. We just begun to come to a place of to acceptance of whomever our daughter would be. And then this one joyful morning, we got the call from the genetic counselor saying that the test came back and she was just fine. The thought of a healthy baby sent me through the roof with joy.

The next morning at work, I was called up to our birthing center. A woman was going into labor and would deliver a pre-term baby who might be born alive, but would not be able to live for more than a few minutes due to her very young gestational age. This woman’s husband could not bear to be present during this birth, and so the nurses wondered if I could stay with her as she went through this sad labor. Her husband believed that it would be best not to see, name, or hold the baby so that they would not love it any more. It was a desperate —and failed — attempt at having their hearts a little less broken. The nurse who called me looked at my rounding stomach and asked if I was sure I should do this. I wasn’t, but I knew I was to go in anyway.

There were layers of similarities — our baby girls nearly exactly the same age and husbands who had the same uncommon first names. I sat and held her hand, and we talked between contractions, whispering, praying, and crying. She asked if I would baptize the baby, but not tell her husband. I said I would. After she delivered her tiny little baby, who was in fact alive and breathing, she and I quickly baptized her with those ancient words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. AMEN,” before her husband was to enter. When he came in, she quickly handed me the baby and asked me to take her. I whispered to her, “Do you want me to hold her until she dies?” “Please, “she replied though tears.

I carried this little child into the next room, and sat down on the rocking chair in the dark. I could feel her little breaths. As I held her on top of my growing stomach, I began to sing quietly and pray. “Jesus. You too were a baby. So take this little one, so pure and perfect. Let her know love. Hold her and tend her just as her mother would if she could. Hold her tight.”

A fairly small, but remarkable, thing then happened. My own little baby, just her age, began to kick. She gently kicked and punched and did not stop for the entire 15 or so minutes that we sat there together. At first I thought she might be reminding me about how she was o.k. About how she was healthy and strong. I thought she was strengthening my spirit. But now I wonder if somehow she was talking to this little dying baby. As if they were so close to God’s heart that they could communicate deep truths in little breaths and kicks. Maybe she was telegraphing to her sister that she too would be o.k., reminding her that she was returning to a place that they had both come from.

It was as if those two babies were like soul-twins, like the intertwining dark and light of that ancient Confucian symbol the Yin-Yang.

I don’t understand what happened in that room, but I know what happened in my own spirit. It was made known to me by these two babies, one dying, one with new promise of health, that somehow this all resides together in the hands and the heart of God, the Creator. That the line between life and death, which had seemed so rock solid, was in fact very thin, very porous. That life and death are twins, enriching each other, bearing truth, communicating the complete nature of God.

Somehow, this has made it easier to live in a less divided way. We can fear a little less, rest a little more, and live a little louder when death is but a chapter of the great whole. You see, it all fits in the palm of God’s hands — all of our terror and sorrow and all of our joy and delight. God collects the broken pieces, knits them together and declares us whole. It’s quite a mystery.

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