I must admit Mother’s Day snuck up on me this year. And as it always does, my heart felt the familiar ache for all of those for whom Mother’s Day is difficult, even dreaded. I thought of those who aren’t able to conceive, or those who’ve lost a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth, because I was one of them back in the spring of 1984. My husband was about to graduate from seminary and already had a job waiting for him on staff at a large church in Florida. At the time, I was nearing the end of my first trimester with our first child, grateful that the long weeks of wretched morning sickness were finally behind me. Then, at a routine appointment with my OBGYN, I could tell by his expression that something was very wrong.
And it was. Our precious unborn child had died. We were absolutely devastated. I was inconsolable, and began to resent the fact that Ken didn’t seem as grief-stricken as I was. I was prickly when well-meaning friends told me of their own miscarriages and how one day, we too could “try again” for another one. As if this one hadn’t mattered and should be forgotten. Everything got on my last nerve as the endless grief seemed to swallow me whole. Then later, when the despair finally began to ease a bit, I wanted to go back to church. Totally oblivious of the date, we had no idea it was Mother’s Day until several young couples with their tiny new babies lined up across the front of the church for the annual baby dedication. Ken and I barely made it out of the sanctuary before the ache in my soul poured out in sobs.
A few days later, a gift from my sister Morlee arrived in the mail. It was a book called Empty Arms by Pam Vredevelt. As I began to read, I could feel God speaking to my broken heart through the author’s own story of losing her full-term baby in stillbirth. She addressed the unspeakable sense of loss. She examined the reality that men and women who lose a child often experience grief quite differently and how to help each other work through that. She helped me understand those well-meaning comments from friends, and showed me how to let God heal my heart again.
That one small book, given at the precise moment I so desperately needed it, turned my sorrow into hope. Over the years, I’ve given dozens of copies of that book to others who are experiencing the grief of empty arms. And just as my sister had done for me, I recognized the power of giving the right book to the right person at the right time. If that’s not Divine Intervention, I don’t know what is!