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Letter to My Unknown Child

January 30, 2018

This is one blog post that I wish I wasn’t writing.

My wife and I began 2018 with an unexpected surprise: we were expecting our second child. Much to my surprise, Sarah showed me her positive pregnancy test on New Years Eve and we were incredibly excited. We told our parents, siblings, and a few of our closest friends. We were looking forward to sharing the news with the rest of our loved ones, our church family, and on social media.

However, everything changed on the last day we were in Orlando for a pastors conference. On our way back to Miami, instead of heading home we were advised by Sarah’s doctor to go directly to the ER.  My parents met us there and took our son home to put him to bed. Sarah and I were in the hospital that evening until around 1:00am.

A series of tests and ultrasounds all led to one conclusion: she was in the process of miscarrying.

There is never a good time for these things to happen, but this time especially so. We had already made travel plans for two days later. I was scheduled to do two weeks of doctoral classes in California while Sarah would be with her family back in Massachusetts. We were told by the doctors that everything could continue as usual.

Yet, we would have one more unexpected emergency when my wife felt something was wrong with her the morning we were at the airport.  There, we spoke with our airlines and immediately went to another ER to make sure she was okay. Another series of tests confirmed the conclusion of the doctors a couple days prior: our baby was gone at about 6 weeks gestation.

We discussed the situation and both felt that it would be helpful to continue on with our plans. Sarah would have family support up in Massachusetts and I could continue my work.

It turns out that, while we didn’t have much of a choice, ours was not the best approach to take. While I got more schoolwork accomplished in a few days that I wasn’t able to do in the months prior, I realized that I was actually avoiding my grief by plunging completely into work. I would sometimes stop with an incredible surge of emotion, gather myself, then keep working. That’s when I remembered a truth that changed my approach: grief is an integral part of healing.

Immediately, I stopped whatever music I was listening to and assignment I was working on, and wrote a letter to this child that I would never get the chance to know. I wept the entire time I wrote.

My dear child,

Today, I sit in sorrow wondering, “Why”? I grieve for you. My heart aches because I know that in this life, I’ll never get to hold you. I won’t know your sex. I don’t know your face. I won’t hear your laugh. This tears at my heart and leaves me in tears as I write this.

Still, know that you were fearfully and wonderfully made. Even before we knew you were there, God knew you in his mind. The fact that we never got to meet you doesn’t change that.

Know that you are special. Know that even though we could not meet you, you are loved. Know that you will always be a part of our lives in this life and the next. You may have never seen the light of day, a painful reality that is sometimes too difficult to bear, but you brought light into our lives that will never go away.

I would have loved to have seen you been born. I would have loved to seen you take your first steps and learn about the world as you explored it with your brother. I would have loved to have celebrated your first birthday somewhere nice. I was looking forward to doing so many amazing things and sharing wonderful memories.

However, that’s not possible. I don’t know why. Logically, I know that God knows all. I know that he is in control. Emotionally, the reality of your loss overshadows my mind. Emotionally, grief fills my heart and sadness has become my companion.

Will I ever know you? Will I ever hold your hand? Will I be able to walk the streets of gold with you? I hope so. I don’t know what God has in store. Whatever our future is, I place you and us, in his everlasting arms.

My solace is in knowing that the only world you will experience is one where sin is but a distant memory and death is long forgotten. But for as long as I live on this Earth, my heart will always have a you-shaped hole in it. Sleep till Resurrection Morning, my sweet child. Know that Mommy and Daddy will be here for you with Jesus when you wake up.

Love,

Daddy

In moments of death, theology doesn’t always bring the peace you’d expect, nor should it. In theory, I know God is in control. In theory, I know all things work together. Practically, that didn’t and doesn’t stop my heart from hurting. The shortest verse in Scripture is the record of God himself crying at the loss of someone whom he truly loved.

Jesus wept. – John 11:35

For anyone that has lost a loved one, no matter how big or small, a loss is a loss. Step into the pain and grieve. It’s a part of healing. We are sharing this not to overshare, but one of the things we’ve realized in this process is that miscarriage happens much more often than many realize, but it’s sometimes a taboo subject. In opening up with a few people, we were surprised to learn that others had gone through a similar experience.

So, if you are going through something difficult, keeping your hurt, pain, loneliness, or isolation to yourself might not be the best approach to take. If you are grieving, know that it’s okay to open up. You may be surprised to find the support you need (or didn’t think you needed).

If you find yourself in the role of supporter, when someone is in pain, stepping into the role of God and trying to provide answers from our limited human perspective often does more harm than good.  Sometimes, silence, time, presence, and shared tears are what is needed.

Pastors are people too. Pray for our family. We would greatly appreciate it.

  • John Rengifo

    My brother, this hurts to read. I’m so sorry to hear about this loss. Lifting you and Sarah and the whole family in prayer.

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