The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

Mourn with those who mourn...

Perhaps the most defining event in my life happened when I was just five years old. My sister, Tara, was born, weeks early and underdeveloped. Specifically, the blood vessels between her heart and lungs had not fully formed, leaving her unable to sufficiently oxegenate her body. She lived at Vandy's NICU for the next two months, finally coming home still attached to both a respirator and a heart monitor. My parents were given repeated dire predictions. She wouldn't live through the night. She wouldn't live to be 2 years old. She might live, but would never walk. She would be on medication the rest of her life.

For several weeks, my parents had to intubate her to feed her and then reinsert the respirator tube. She was finally taken off of that machine, but stayed on a heart monitor for several months. At the time, she and I shared a bedroom, and it fell to me to get up to replace the sensors when she pulled them off her skin. At the time, I knew it wasn't normal that the baby was so sick, but I didn't really have any idea of what was going on, of the level of crisis my family was living at.

Eventually, I'm happy to say, Tara defied the odds and proved them all wrong. Every single one of the above predictions failed to be true. She is a wonderful, healthy college graduate planning on a career in - what else - medicine.

Much of who I am can be traced to that time. Some traits I may have already had, but the events certainly enhanced them. My need to succeed and be responsible to please my parents. My deep maternal sense and talents. It definitely emphasized the oldest - middle - youngest child dynamic in our family.

This morning at church, it was announced that a family in our congregation lost their days-old baby girl, who was born with a heart defect and other complications. I cannot put into words for you the heartwrenching grief that has taken hold of me today.

This afternoon, I did what I always do when I'm hurting deeply, and went for a walk at Radnor Lake. As I walked, Romans 12 came to mind: "Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep". It never occurred to me before that this was a gift, and not just a command. For I have no doubt that I have, for whatever reason, been given some share of this family's grief to share. I've never felt anything like this, at least not for someone I don't know very well. But I'll gladly take it. For one thing, I know it is only a fraction of what they must be carrying. But also, it is a new experience for me - a new spiritual gift that I am given. And so I know that through it I will see another face of God.

Tonight's Celebration service was full of songs celebrating God's power, faithfulness, and goodness. It was hard for me to understand those songs tonight, although I know them to be true. And so I'm praying for this family's faith, for renewal for them, and comfort, and for their broken hearts to be healed. Although I know all of this will take time for them.

If you're the praying kind, pray with me for them. This is a new kind of sharing to me, but it has somehow made me feel a little more generous and grateful for what I have had in my life, my sister and amazing family most of all.

1 Responses to “Mourn with those who mourn...”

  1. # Blogger Malia

    It never occurred to me before that this was a gift, and not just a command.

    Me neither, thank you for pointing it out! It helps explain to me why I, too, have such a heart wrenching grief for this family.  

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