Time stood still as I walked over to where he lay in a swaddling blanket on the hospital bed. I walked cautiously ... nervously, knowing I would never be able to take back what I was about to see. Still, a part of me knew I desperately needed to see.
There he was.
Tiny. Fragile but fully formed. 10 fingers, 10 toes (I counted). Tiny ribs sprawled wide under the thin flesh of his chest exposing a web of veins. The longest legs you ever did see. He would have been tall.
And handsome. A distinct jawline with undeniably masculine facial features. A broad nose. Small, pouty lips. His right hand outstretched, making perhaps the most ironic gesture - a peace sign above his head.
"You are beautiful, sweet boy," I whispered to him, wanting so very badly to cradle him in my arms. "Rest now." He looked as though he were simply asleep, and something inside of me struggled to accept the hard truth.
He was dead. 18 weeks old.
Tears would not come. It simply did not feel right. Or real.
This baby I prayed earnestly for. This baby I rejoiced over. He was not mine, but my heart lay on that hospital bed beside him.
And the thing that disturbed me the most at the very sight of him, in that very moment, was not that his short life was over. It was not the tremendous weight of overwhelming grief, although that was certainly present. It was the fact that he was so obviously a beautiful baby boy. There was no question in anyone's mind that the tiny frame we huddled around with sorrowful hearts and tear-stained faces that day was indeed a baby.
And yet, this generation - my generation - insists that lives this young are not lives at all. Babies as small and defenseless as he lay before my eyes are discarded like trash every day in America.
To think. Heaven is full of babies we simply didn't want. Children whose first breaths were stolen. First cries. First steps. First birthdays.
Lives snuffed out before they had a chance.
In the days that followed, I couldn't help but think of him often and wonder: where is the comfort in a world where babies die before they are born? Where is the consolation in a society where miscarriage and infertility and abortion reign? Where sin reigns?
Who will weep for the millions of babies who die without names? Or dignity? Or burials?
I will mourn for countless children who have died before they ever made it here. I will weep for barren wombs and incompetent cervixes and pre-term labor and a government that condones and even rationalizes murder. I will cry aloud for babies like him, with no name and no dignity and no hope.
I will weep. Until a savior comes back who rights all that is wrong with our world. Until miscarriage is no more. Until this culture's lies are exposed by truth that sets us free. I will scream at the top of my lungs that we are so very guilty. That we have failed to protect the ones who cannot protect themselves.
And I will pray for mercy from a holy God who loves children. I will take comfort in knowing that the judge of all the earth will do right.
He is the only comfort in a world where babies die before they are born. He is the only consolation in a society where sin (temporarily) reigns.
And will not abandon us like unwanted children. He will never throw us out with the trash. He sees and He cares and He understands. Because of Him, one day I will see him again.
Until then, sweet boy. Rest in heaven's peace.
See you when I get there.