Sunday, March 25, 2012

Eleven Years Ago Today

Eleven years ago today, my 11-day-old baby boy was in my arms fighting a losing battle for his life.  For obvious reasons this time of year is just plain tough.  My heartache is not brought on by a memory of one awful day of my son's death, but rather 29 days of watching him slowly die.  I would not wish my memories of his last days on my worst enemy.  For this reason I wonder if Jaeden would have been better off had I "terminated the pregnancy" - a choice most would not have judged me for since they  knew he was suffering from severe hydrocephalus, and would likely live a life with severe mental retardation.  

For me abortion was not a moral dilemma, but rather a personal resolve resulting from my childhood faith that kept me from ending my son's life.  The responsibility of choosing his life or death was an impossible one... trusting God was all I could do.  My heart told me that whether my son lived or died was God's choice...  not mine, and whatever circumstances (good or bad) came with God's choice would be bearable because God is sovereign - He exists outside of time - and He knows what is best for His children.  From an eternal perspective, I imagine all of life's happenings take on a much different shape than the one we see as limited and mortal beings.

Two days into Jaeden's life it was made crystal clear that his earthly life would be a painfully brief one.  Everyday of my son's life was a breath-holding wondering of which moment would be our last.  I did not want to fall asleep for fear he would die without my knowing... and alone; I did not want to put him down for the same reason.  An Aerosmith song sums up my thoughts during that heart-breaking time of my life:

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing
Watch you smile while you are sleeping
While you're far away and dreaming
I could spend my life in this sweet surrender
I could stay lost in this moment forever
Where every moment spent with you is a moment I treasure

Lying close to you feeling your heart beating
And I'm wondering what you're dreaming
Wondering if it's me you're seeing
Then I kiss your eyes
And thank God we're together
I just want to stay with you in this moment forever

I don't want to miss one smile
I don't want to miss one kiss
I just want to be with you
Right here with you, just like this
I just want to hold you close
Feel your heart so close to mine
And just stay here in this moment
For all the rest of time

I don't want to close my eyes
I don't want to fall asleep
Cause I'd miss you babe
And I don't want to miss a thing
Cause even when I dream of you
The sweetest dream will never do
I'd still miss you babe
And I don't want to miss a thing

During Jaeden's 29 days God provided us with gifts of peace, mercy, love, grace, hope, strength, and yes... even joy.  To name a few: While in the NICU we were given several beautiful comforting gifts made with compassion and saturated in prayers.  While at the hospital in Las Cruces we were wrapped up in the hugs, tears, and prayers of family and friends.  Dear friends of my family gave me a CD (Natalie Grant's 1999 self-titled album) which filled our home with God's presence and peace.  My brother-in-law drove to and from Las Cruces from Killeen, TX, to bring a prayer cloth as a symbol of faith for Jaeden's healing.

All of these loving gestures confirmed my belief that God would wrap us up in his arms and carry us through every trial in life.  He proved to be all I needed in the face of what some believe to be the worst  thing that could ever happen to them.  Unlike those who do not have faith in the God of the Bible, I have the hope that my son is healed.  He is perfect in every way and I will see him again.  His life was not without purpose.  His life and death made me put my hypothetical faith into action.

Being taught to trust God, and actually trusting God are two COMPLETELY different concepts.  I chose to run to God.  I chose to trust God even though I honestly was not even sure I truly believed in Him.  After all, a short seven months before Jaeden's one-night-stand conception I was suffering from a full blown nervous breakdown resulting from my unbridled lifestyle of promiscuity, drug and alcohol abuse.  During my nervous breakdown, the healing process revealed the truths in God's Word.  I began to experience its living, breathing, and life changing power.  The groundwork for my ultimate decision to follow Christ was being laid during that tormented time in my life.

The day that Jaeden died I was drowning in God's unexplainable peace... an experience that left me convinced of His reality.  That night as young teenage girls engulfed me with their hugs and tears at the altar following my church's Good Friday Easter production, God's purpose for my life began to unfold. He was opening a door for me to work with youth... 11 years later I am preparing to become a middle school special education teacher, and God is birthing a desire in my heart to foster children who have no home...  Yes. Jaeden's life had a BIG purpose.  His life and death led me to the foot of the cross in a state of complete vulnerability and surrender.  Karen Scott wrote a worship song that beautifully captures my heart's response in that precious and life altering moment in time:

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me your love
Through the judgement you received
And you've won my heart
Yes you've won my heart

At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death you bore for me
And you've won my heart
Yes you've won my heart

Now I can
Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

Today I can't help but wonder where I would be had I chosen to take matters into my own hands and abort my baby boy.  Even though Jaeden's death is tough to deal with, I am so thankful for his life and the gift of eternal life that he and I have both been given.

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