David and I paged through these as we drank our orange juice and tea. He used a highlighter to mark the questions or information he wanted his grandma to be sure to read carefully.
It wasn't long before his grandma got her coffee made and came out to join us. She was carrying a greeting card in her hand, and she pulled out a letter that was folded up in it and said that she wanted me to read it. Gene has gotten tons of "Thinking of You" cards in recent weeks--they've filled up a basket in the dining room and it's always nice to see how many people care about his grandparents.
So I unfolded the letter, expecting to read a funny story about Gene. This letter was sent by a good friend of theirs who had attended church with them for several years, but had been away for last year or so, acting as a caregiver for someone in her family. She'd recently returned to town and heard about Gene's cancer.
She writes in the letter that she's thinking of Gene and keeping him in her prayers. That they miss him at church. And then she writes this:
I hope you won't mind my sharing of my personal experience in a very sad time in my life. My first children were precious twin daughters. I wanted children more than anything. I was advised not to have children as I have only one kidney. I am sure you and Peggy know I am a very determined person. I decided to have a baby anyway. My twins were born prematurely. Stacy lived 2 days, Amy lived almost a week. My heart was broken, and I sought comfort from my church friends. But they said all the wrong things to me in trying to offer comfort. They said, "You're young, you can have more children" and worse yet, they told me it was God's will. I spent 2 years mad at God, stopped going to church, and wondered how the God I had loved and had worshiped my whole life would allow my babies to die. My Christian parents were devastated, no only by my loss, but not knowing what to say to help me. But what my Mother did say to me repeatedly was that God had not deserted me. She told me that life is not sustained on mountaintops. It is in the valleys that true growth takes place. It is there where we find God most easily.She's not offering platitudes, or vague well-wishes, or promising Gene that everything is going to be okay. But she is telling him from personal experience, that even in the darkest moments, faith and friendships can sustain him. She can say these things with honesty and authority. She had two baby girls who were so wanted, and so loved, and in the wake of their loss, she found a way to go on. And I'm so grateful that she felt compelled to share this with Gene (and with us). I hope she realizes that her kindness is a beautiful tribute to Stacy and Amy.
I should add that, as far as we know, she has no idea about Eliza. She's been friends with Gene and Peggy for several years, but she's never met David or me, and she wasn't in town at the time of our loss, having only returned a couple of weeks ago.
She closes the letter with this:
I have never shared my story with anyone, but somehow it seemed the right thing to do. I hope it was. We will continue to pray for you, and are here if you need anything.I can't believe she's never shared this story before, but it's obvious that her girls have still been a part of her life at every moment.
This lady has no clue how much we really needed that story. She just felt that somehow it seemed like the right thing to do. I'm so honored that she found the courage to tell Stacy and Amy's story, and I hope someday I have the opportunity to tell her how much it meant to all of us.