October 15th is International Baby & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Starting at 7pm participants begin lighting their candles & burn them for a period of at least one hour. For the past few years our family has taken part in this moment to remember our firstborn, Harris Michael. This is a practice we never thought we would participate in for ourselves when we first found out he was on the way.
For nine months, Jim and I loved on our baby. We named him Harris from my maiden name and Michael from Jim’s dad. Such strength, such hope, such promise in one name. Our families were thrilled and in love, he would be the first grandchild in my family and a boy!!! My second graders loved him, my friends loved him, geez, strangers loved him.
Harris was due January 14th, 2004. Being the only Rocheleau to be right on time, not late or super early, I went into labor that day. We ate dinner, I showered; thinking these were things I wouldn’t have much time for after he was born. Once I stepped on the mother/baby floor of the hospital my life (our lives) changed forever.
The myriad of feelings that flooded my world then still sneak up now. The feelings of being told Harris didn’t make it. Of looking at Jim reminding him we were still together. The looks of my family as they walked into the hospital. The gentle hugs from loved ones. The phone calls my precious assistant made. The careless words spoken. The kindness from countless people. The pain of an unexpected surgery. The empty arms. The broken heart. And so many more.
Those feelings crept back this Sunday when I listened to stories of love and loss. I listened to a couple share about several losses over 30 years ago. Thirty years ago when no one would dare speak of it much less write anything about it. This couple has only begun to truly grieve the loss of their babies. They’ve also learned to fully trust God’s perfect plans for their lives.
Where was God in the midst of this? Why didn’t He step in and help Harris’ little heart keep beating as the doctor tried to save him? If God is for us, how does this happen? Those questions bombarded us almost fourteen years ago. But they don’t anymore. Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” became my life mantra. I learned to trust in His working things together for good. I gave up my quest for answers and accepted THE answers of hope, promise, love and mercy.
Just this week Brady was lamenting over his bedroom not being painted ever. When I reminded him his bedroom at our old house was painted he said, “But that was for Harris, not for me. Which room would have been mine?” I replied, “Brady, there might not have been a you if Harris lived.” To which he wisely and in true Brady fashion said, “That would have been a very boring life.” Yes, B, it would have been terribly boring without your wit and joy and expansive love for life. God has a perfect plan and I’m choosing to trust Him daily with the details.
If your heart has been broken and your arms still ache over baby loss, know you’re not alone. Know that there are people out there who want to hold your hand while you share your story. Know there are people out there who will remember your baby’s details, celebrate the life too shortly lived, and love on you when the memories overtake you. Know there are people who will not shirk away from you speaking your child’s name. Know, above else, that God’s perfect plan for our lives included the life of your baby. Know that God loves you, loves your baby, and feels your pain.