A few months ago I was making plans with Jared, one of my best friends, to take our wives on vacation together. We had figured out relevant babysitting and other logistics, and we were prepared for an 11 hour road trip followed by a 7-day cruise to Alaska. Needless to say, we were really excited. Just a few days later though, just before we all bought our cruise tickets together, my friend’s wife figured out that she was pregnant. By the time of the cruise she would be in her third trimester and didn’t think it was a good time to go on a cruise with us.
I followed their excitement as they discovered that they would be having twin boys. From the mother’s blog: “This is so exciting! I can’t wait to have two cute little boys to take pictures of and play with and be a mom to.” and “Oh no, what if both babies are colicky and cry at the same time and Ava starts to cry and want me to “hold you” too. What the heck am I going to do then? I can only hold so much at one time. I have a very little lap.”
Despite a difficult pregnancy, excitement continued to build, until last week. Just 23 weeks into the pregnancy (more than 4 months premature), both boys, Carter and Mason, were born. Both about a pound, and both very fragile. Knowing that babies born this early very rarely turn out to be healthy children, hundreds of friends and family prayed and fasted for this little family. Even now as I write this my eyes silently gather tears. The massive swings between excitement when Carter was breathing so well and the devastation when his oxygen levels dipped dangerously low. Mason seemed to be holding up better, but was following the same up-and-down pattern.
Within about a day, caring doctors told my friends that they only had a few minutes left with their baby Carter.
“We sat and watched Carter for a while until the Doctor brought back the test results from the blood work drawn which were as low as you can get and said there was no chance of saving this baby. They disconnected all of his breathing tubes and monitoring devices and put him in our hands to hold him alone for his last few heart beats of life. We felt such incredible love and joy towards this beautiful baby. We felt our Heavenly Father’s love wrapped all around us and many who are behind the veil standing there with us welcoming this baby. It was one of the most spiritual moments of my entire life. Maija-Liisa was so happy just to have this baby to hold in her arms. As I held him in my hands I would imagine his smiling giggling face as he would have grown up playing with his brother. I imagined his happy loving personality and what he would be like when we would some day meet him again.”
Over the next three days they rallied around Mason, celebrating his good times, and struggling with each of his struggles. Then, the third night, Mason also passed on:
“They pulled Mason out of his incubator but left all the tubes and cords connected to him while they ran one more test. After the results came back they decided that Mason was ready to be with Carter and removed all his support lines. We held Mason for a while just like we did Carter and pondered the whole experience we were going through. Mason fought long and hard for 3 days and we are grateful that he gave us that time to get to know him a little better. We are glad that he can be buried with his brother and they can be together.”
What is truly remarkable for me, is the renewed strength that somehow resonates out of my friends. After going through the most emotionally charged experience of their lives, they seem stronger. I spoke with Jared last night, he feels like this incredible tragedy has increased his capacity to feel, to experience, to live. He looks at his healthy 2-year-old daughter a little bit differently now. He tells me that his perspective hasn’t changed, but has been refined- for the better. Each moment of life has become more precious to him, and each moment with loved ones more meaningful.
This increased awareness has helped him to become more grateful for the goodness life has been offering all along. All the sudden millions of “little things” become more real, more significant. Jared believes that the increased awareness, which has created immeasurably more gratitude in his life, is helping to fill the void created by the unspeakable loss. He and his wife believe that their family will still be together after this life, that after passing from this life their children are simply waiting for the rest of the family to join them. They will have the rest of eternity to spend together. In the meantime, this difficult moment they have passed through may have been the impetus for my friends to live life more fully. The thought came up: could this have been a loving sacrifice made by spiritually strong twins who wanted to bless their parents?
I obviously don’t know all the answers here. I do have complete trust that my friends lives will be better off for having grown through this. Increased awareness allows them to follow divine promptings in a way that would not have been possible before. The increased trust and gratitude are raising their consciousness to a higher plane. They didn’t ask for this refining experience, yet they are clearly learning and growing in ways that were not possible just one week ago. They are discovering life, and peace, in tragedy.
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