Four years ago today we attended a small funeral for our tiny son. It is such a surreal experience. A week before I was washing clothes for Koen and organizing the closet in his nursery, and just days later Kevin was carrying his body in a casket. In one week, I gave birth to my stillborn son, left the maternity floor with no baby in hand, met with a funeral director, chose clothes for Koen to be buried in, picked cemetery plots - not only for Koen - but for Kevin and myself, met with a pastor to officiate our son's funeral, and strangely told the series of events surrounding Koen's death while maintaining composure to those I came in contact with. In my alone times sat in Koen's nursery, rocking in the chair, squeezing stuffed animals fiercely - I needed to hug something because my arms physically felt empty - while staring at an empty crib, and at times feeling such a heavy weight on my chest that I found it difficult to speak or even breathe. That grief, that week, and the weeks following are so sacredly cherished for me, as crazy as it sounds, I long for that feeling. That extreme grief is so closely tied to Koen in my memories, if I can feel that grief again, then I can almost feel his tiny body in my arms and see his face that I covered in kisses. I think I also long for that feeling, because mixed in to that grief, was Jesus's hand holding me. I have never felt so close to death, so close to Christ. That time was sacred for me.
I miss Koen. And will every day while I remain on this earth. But four years later, I can say - on most days, it is well with my soul. In the last month I have learned the history of that beloved classic hymn. It was written by Horatio G. Spafford. He was a lawyer and businessman in Chicago and a father of five, four girls and one boy, in 1871, but that year lost his son to pneumonia. In 1871, his business also experienced loss in the Chicago fire. His business recovered, and in an attempt to bring some joy back to his family he planned a trip across the Atlantic for a holiday in Europe. Business delayed him, but he sent his four small girls and wife ahead. Four days into their voyage, their ship, the Ville du Harve, crashed in to another large ship. Within 12 minutes the ship sank. Spafford's wife, Anna, was found floating and was rescued by a small row boat. All four of their daughters, were all lost at sea. Within two years this couple lost five small children. I cannot fathom. Anna traveled alone on another vessel for 9 days to Wales. No cell phones or email to communicate the horror to her husband. When she arrived in Wales she sent a wire to her husband that began "Saved alone, what shall I do?". Spafford journeyed across the Atlantic and while on that journey he wrote the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul". He and his wife started over and had three more children, losing yet another to pneumonia. They buried six of their eight babies. I cannot fathom the holes in their hearts, yet their faith remained.
I remember singing this song from the hymnals at Novesta Church of Christ as a child. The words always spoke to my anxious heart, but never cut me to the core like they have this month. Spafford was in agony, in pain that I cannot comprehend, but my guess is he was feeling that same extreme grief, mixed in with Jesus holding him that I also experienced. I believe Jesus must have been calming him, reminding him that he could nail his pain and heartache to the cross, begging Stafford to allow Him to carry his suffering. Telling him that he saw him in his helpless estate. Jesus suffered for us, so that He could carry our suffering. That kind of love descends down and wraps us up when we are hurting the most.
While I lay in the hospital on bedrest fearful that Tobin's life would also be lost, I clung to this scripture:
"From the end of the earth I will cry to you, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I." Psalm 61:2
Much like Stafford, I was reminding myself, to cling to Jesus, for Him to take away the fear, the heartache. He is there for you to call out and cling to, too. He is the one who can calm your hurt, settle your soul, and give you the peace that is only found through him.
So on this day of reminders of heartache, it is well with my soul.
Late last night, I walked to the mailbox, feeling the perfect air, listening to the birds, and just smiled at the peace of it all. Then in my mailbox I found the most amazing gift, these angel wings with Koen's name. No sweeter gift then remembering and honoring Koen's life.
I am Jackie.