You had to know it was coming. A blog post only happens every so often. They are certainly a rarity, but some things are far too important to not document in some way. As painful as it is, as horrendous the situation, some things just need to be stated.
The water is calm, everyone is together and all is well. Looking out over the horizon hope for this new day settles over us as we bask comfortably in the warm morning air, enjoying the salty breeze. The sunrise painted hues of glory across the canvas sky. A deep breath, a sense of peace.
March 2 was a Monday and the kids and I were counting down. It was a date that came up in conversation between my family and my parents regularly. That would be the day my sister in law, Tamara, and my nephews would move to Alaska and Nate would come shortly after. We were all so excited that they would be a part of our lives on a daily basis! This was a tremendous thing for me because I really want my kids to have a real relationship with their cousins. We are a close family so the thought of living down the street was only met with happiness for the future.
The future, as it turned out, took an unexpected turn. On Tuesday, May 12, I went with my mom and Tamara to Anchorage. Tamara had an appointment with a perinatologist. We pretty much thought we were going there to get confirmation that everything was fine. Obviously, being at a specialist to begin with meant that there was a possibility that something wasn't perfect, but we had no idea what was about to hit.
There is a cloud making it's appearance known. It started very small and far away but as it rolls in, it's obvious that it is dark and undesirable. The sun isn't as bright as it was in the morning. Small waves splash all around and the wind is picking up. The breeze seems to swirl the darkness. The cold stings the eyes as they start to fill with tears. A deep breath, a looming dread.
The doctor's gaze stayed fixed on the ultrasound screen. Images foreign to an untrained eye flashed across the screen and numbers were recorded. A beautiful profile, ten toes, distinct bones and tiny clenched fists. These are all amazing things to recognize up on the screen! I marveled that this machine can look inside a human to look inside another human, not to mention the impressive skill of the doctor to identify and inspect details of this precious growing baby. While I was transfixed on the beauty before us, the doctor silently identified multiple issues. When she finished she said "Let me tell you what I'm seeing." She did. And as she did, I felt the world get a little heavier and the blood drain from my face. She said the words "Trisomy 18." I knew what that meant already and my heart absolutely sank. I studied the other faces in the room. It was clear that my mom and Tamara did not know the gravity of the condition. Questions were asked and information was shared. The prognosis was grim.
The storm has hit and it's here to stay. White caps surround us as wind and rain pelt the face. It feels like a bad dream because storms like this don't happen here. This is a safe place and things were beautiful, too beautiful perhaps. A deep breath, a lingering grief.
This was the day the world turned upside down. We have all been grieving in our own ways and believe me when I say it's HARD. I wouldn't wish this for my worst enemy, if I had one, much less for people I love dearly. I've spoken words that should never go together far too many times this week. I've had thoughts that shock me and conversations that break my heart. I've crumbled and cried at unexpected times. (Sorry barista, you asked) I've made lists and taken care of business.
To say that Nate and Tamara have been faced with decisions that are nearly unbearable to make would be an understatement. One decision though that has brought much joy though is chosing a name for their sweet boy. Jude Lee. It is so fitting. Jude means "praise" and they have been touched by the song "Praise You in the Storm" by Casting Crowns. Lee was chosen as the middle name in honor of Tamara's sister who passed away when she was 17. Before I knew their reasoning behind the name I looked up the meaning. In addition to meaning praise, Jude is also the patron saint of lost causes (think St. Jude's children's hospital) and one meaning of Lee is "healed or healer." A friend of mine also pointed out the definition of lee as a noun is "shelter from the wind or weather; the sheltered side, the side away from the wind." Jude Lee, just as a name, has such beautiful, positive associations.
If you don't know the song, this is the one mentioned earlier:
PRAISE YOU IN THE STORM;
I was sure by now
God You would have reached downAnd wiped our tears awayStepped in and saved the dayBut once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining
As the thunder rollsI barely hear Your whisper through the rain"I'm with you"And as Your mercy fallsI raise my hands and praise the God who givesAnd takes away
[Chorus:]And I'll praise You in this stormAnd I will lift my handsFor You are who You areNo matter where I amAnd every tear I've criedYou hold in Your handYou never left my sideAnd though my heart is tornI will praise You in this storm
I remember whenI stumbled in the windYou heard my cry to youAnd you raised me up againMy strength is almost goneHow can I carry onIf I can't find You
But as the thunder rollsI barely hear You whisper through the rain"I'm with you"And as Your mercy fallsI raise my hands and praise the God who givesAnd takes away
I lift my eyes unto the hillsWhere does my help come from?My help comes from the LordThe Maker of Heaven and Earth