I just finished watching a moving called In America for the thousandth time. It came out when I was still in college and I loved it then, but I love it more now. If you have never seen it, you absolutely must!
Especially if you have lost a child.
The movie is based on a true story of a family that illegally immigrated to New York City from Ireland in the 1980s so that Johnny (the father) could pursue his dream of acting on Broadway. The more meaningful and beautiful subplot to the movie is that, before they left Ireland, they lost their young son Franky to a malignant brain tumor. The family desperately tries to move forward with life after their devastating loss but it proves more difficult than they imagined. When Sarah (the mom) finds out she is expecting, the joy of the new baby is thwarted by complications with the pregnancy. The movie touchingly portrays the complexity of grief, the blessing of hope, and healing power of love.
There is a particular scene in the movie (beware, it will make you cry) where Sarah is in the hospital after giving birth to their new daughter prematurely. The baby needs a blood transfusion to survive but Sarah doesn't want the baby to get "bad" blood and becomes frantic. From her bed she is screaming to her husband, "Save my baby Johnny. Save my baby. I want to see my baby. Why can't I see my baby?" Nurses come rushing in to calm her down and administer a sedative. Just before she closes her eyes she looks up at Johnny and says...
"If my baby dies, don't wake me up."
The first time I saw this movie those words broke my heart. When I was finally brave enough to watch this movie again after my girls died, those words took on a whole new meaning.
I said those exact words to God as I was rushed into my c-section.
"If my babies die, don't wake me up."
There are some realities so terrifying, it seems death would be a better alternative. I simply could not fathom living if my children did not. And at that time, I didn't even want to try.
In that moment, my fear was bigger than life itself. Bigger than my love for my husband and for my son, bigger than any dream or goal I had ever had, even bigger than my faith.
Fear can be that big sometimes.
And it isn't just a perception. My fear was real. Very very real. And it was certainly the most real thing in my life at that moment.
But God knew that moment would pass. He knew that my fear would fade and I would again see that He was the most real thing in my life. And He would give me everything I would need to face whatever was ahead...because I did wake up.
I woke that day to two ALIVE babies. I was so thankful to wake up. Just to see them and meet them and name them and love them seemed worth being brave for. The fear was still there, but it was different, and along with it was hope. For the time being, they were still with me. We were all together. And everyday I woke up was one more day with them.
Thirteen days later however, I would have given anything for God to honor my prior request. I crawled in bed that night completely numb and feeling desperately hopeless. I was perfectly content to close my eyes and never open them again. But morning came, and I awoke.
And I have woken up every day since.
590 times to be exact.
590 new days to face without my girls. 590 showers to cry in. 590 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners eaten without them. At least 590 cups of tea to remember them during. And 590 nights lying in the dark missing them with tears streaming down my face.
But also 590 days to heal. 590 opportunities to dream and hope again. 590 days to hold and kiss my son. And most importantly, 590 chances to experience God's love, strength, and comfort during the saddest time of my life.
I think if I ever find myself overwhelmed with fear again, instead of telling God what to do, I'll just tell Him I trust Him. I'll remember the time I woke up anyway...
Because 590 days later I'm glad I woke up.
I'm glad He woke me up, each and every time.
God always knows best. His ways are always good. His love is always enough. His grace is always sufficient. His promises always endure.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. Ps 3:5 NIV