Life. You can’t define it or give it a label. It’s filled with peaks that inspire, and valleys that devastate. The unpredictability can be beautiful, or it can be dark.
I found myself wandering in that darkness when my dad passed from lung cancer over a year ago. Losing him reduced me to pieces, and I spent the months that followed trying to recognize my own life. It wasn’t long before things got even more difficult. After a total of eight months after we lost my dad, I found out I was pregnant. At the time, I was not prepared to handle this kind of news. We weren’t trying to have another child and up until then, I had felt like our family was complete. Seven years had passed since our last boy was born, and I did not feel strong enough to bring another life into this world. I was still broken. Contrary to grief that can enter your world uninvited, joy is something you have to welcome. I didn’t want to accept this promise of new life, at least not when I was holding so tightly to my dad’s death. It seemed as though the universe was trying to steal the very grief to which I was entitled. In my panic at the loss of control, I closed my eyes and prayed for time to stop and let me breathe…
Time is relentless in its steady pursuit of the future. It doesn’t slow down to let you collect yourself. It brings the sun each morning and it promotes the growth of life itself, even when you hide in the shadow of loss. Each day that passed pulled me one day further from his last day on earth, and pushed me one day closer to her first. At times, the weight was too much. It took an incredible amount of faith to close my eyes and consider that there was another reality I never saw coming- a future I had never pictured. My dad would have to witness it from heaven, but I was going to be a mother of a little girl. For some reason, God thought I was up to the task. For all my weakness and depression, something happy was coming my way whether I was ready or not. I borrowed strength from my husband, and hope from my kids. There were days when I couldn’t see through the tears, but I had no choice but to acknowledge the retreat of darkness with the arrival of the sun. The heavy tragedy of death had blended into the blessing of life, and our baby girl crossed over into this world.
There are no mortal words that can adequately describe the moment she arrived. My eyes took her in, but my brain was frozen. I couldn’t think, I could only feel. As my husband held me and we met her for the first time, I felt my dad’s words that I had longed to hear him say before he passed: “everything is going to be okay.”
Everything is going to be okay. I realize that I was given proof with each boy and now with this tiny girl. I have been reminded of what the most important DIY projects in life are: our children.
Every evening when the day winds down, I watch my husband from across the room. Silently he begins his routine, something he’s been doing every night since she was born. He carefully picks her up from the bassinet, and cradles her in his arms like she is the most delicate thing in the world. As he makes his way over to the recliner, I see him dip his head to hers and whisper something softly. Going about my business, I come back moments later to see her tiny body perched upon his chest. I watch quietly as my little ladybug slowly rises and falls with his gentle breathing. This is the piece of heaven that the Lord knew I needed. The deep connection with my dad that I longed for is right here, and I get to see my husband smile upon his own daughter the same way my dad smiled at me.
Timen Deahn Henderson, Born March 9, 2016
Named after my hero, my father, Bradford Timen Walters Jr. (1942-2015)
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