Anna’s birthday Thursday

Anna's gravestone
Anna's gravestone

They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. – Isaiah 40:31

Sometimes God takes His time renewing our strength. Approaching Anna’s third birthday Thursday, I have been reminded of just how much healing is yet to take place in my heart. It’s funny how things can crop up.

I miss her. Little Maria looks like her, feels like her with that newborn low muscle tone, although I suspect now she has better head control than Anna did for most of her life. Often I’m asked about Maria. “How’s she doing?” I wonder what is meant. Is it simply the normal, “How’s the baby?” Or is it a subtle way of asking, “Does she have what Anna had?”

Either way, it’s OK. I have always said I don’t want Anna to be some forgotten part of our life. Whenever I’m asked about children, I say that I have three.

The truth is that Maria seems great. So did Anna, at first. I really have no idea whether Maria has a mitochondrial disorder or not, and so we operate on the assumption she doesn’t. Every little baby occasionally does weird stuff as they learn how to use their hands and legs and eyes, and I try (and often fail) not to read trouble into them. That’s not fair to her. On the other hand, she’s meeting her milestones and growing like mad and smiling and trying to talk to us, which are all good signs, but I can’t take them as assurance that everything’s super.

I’ve written before that we would welcome Anna again and again, wouldn’t trade her life for anything. Still true. I’ve written that I’m grateful for her life, that even the pain of her death is blessing all the way down, because it is the cost of love, a cost I am glad to pay for Anna. Still true.

But it’s the cross, and the cross is real and it hurts.

I hate the thought of forgetting, of moving on, and yet in so many ways that’s easy to do. In that light, too, the hurting heart is a blessing. It brings a memory of the past into my present.

Over the past few weeks, I have spent more than 30 hours praying in front of the abortion mill in Duluth, and speaking to the “locals” who may be addicted, mentally ill and homeless. The babies inside, the outcast outside – how easy and how terrible it is for people to be forgotten. But Jesus never forgets them.

God has revealed to us that all things work for good for those who love Him, and as we know, “all things” includes sometimes having your child die at 14 months and having a heart in need of healing over a year later.

Sometimes my heart is in utter confusion about why God made things this way. What I know is that He did make them that way. Maybe part of the good working through this is that He’s calling me to trust Him even when His ways are beyond my ken.

Meanwhile, we love in Christ where there finally is no loss.

Sweet St. Anna, pray for us.

Cross posted.