Thinking about my daughter’s stillbirth forty years ago is bringing back lots of memories and I am compelled to post another blog today and then I’ll move on, I promise.
As I wrote in ‘Dead End,’ Hannah’s brief life and death taught me: God’s grace is always sufficient for the bitter parts of this life on earth.
A big way I saw His love and grace at work was through His friends around me.
Especially through His friend P.
It was her quick smile and a crazy turkey t-shirt she was wearing that attracted me to P. the first time we met back in 1976. With her husband, P. had come to Montreat to work at the small college where Jake worked, and for two years we shared meals and dreams and Bible verses and jokes, playing and praying together often.
I loved her then, and I love her still, her unique self, her warm personality, her funny stories and sayings, and her heart for God.
But I selfishly love her most for her loyal generosity. All through these many years, P. reads and responds to my blabbering letters. She listens to my heart. She speaks grace and truth to me.
When Hannah died, I didn’t want to be around anyone. But P. (who had moved 3 hours away) didn’t ask, she just showed up at my door. She fed me. She cried with me. She listened to me blaspheme God as I struggled to accept the unacceptable. She stood by me in the cemetery. And she marveled with me, at God’s goodness, when I told her that an Anonymous Someone had paid all the funeral costs.
P. gave me the gift of presence. She was with me.
Later that year, a swell of grief hit me. I was 4 months pregnant, but I wanted Hannah, my first baby, and I felt so upset that there was no one but me who knew her, loved her, and missed her.
Nothing tangible on earth showed that Hannah had lived.
To comfort myself, I put together a scrapbook with all the cards, photos of baby showers, letters, journal pages … anything and everything I had kept that pertained to Hannah.
I loved making that simple scrapbook, but I did not want to show it to anyone.
I couldn’t wait to visit her and explain my deep need to have something to give evidence to my baby’s life.
P. cried along with me as we turned each page and remembered this and that.
And then she said that she had also wanted something tangible of Hannah.
She led me into her bedroom, opened her jewelry box, lifted out the tray, and from the bottom, drew out a small white piece of paper. Unfolding it, she gave it to me, saying, “I want you to put this in Hannah’s book.”
I cried, looking at the paid-in-full receipt from Miller Funeral Home.
I’d never imagined that P. was the Anonymous Someone.
I love that story.
Just had to tell it.