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Everyone knows there is a time to be born and a time to die. We expect both of those unavoidable events in our lives, but we don’t expect them to come just 1342 days apart. For my baby daughter, cancer decided that the number of her days would be so many fewer than the hopeful expectation my heart held as her mama.

I had dreams that began the moment the two pink lines faintly appeared on the early morning pregnancy test. I had hopes that grew with every sneak peek provided during my many routine ultrasounds. I had formed a future in my imagination that held teaching my little girl to ride a bike, pulling her first tooth, and starting kindergarten. When I looked a few years further into the dream, I could see high school graduation, helping her choose a wedding dress, and holding her first baby. There were so many events I thought would fill our days together.

But they didn’t come to pass. Instead, as a two-and-a-half-year-old baby, she became wise to the ways of the cancer world. She knew what chemotherapy was and that she could not leave her hospital room anytime she was hooked up to it. She knew that having a scan meant being sedated and not getting her breakfast on time. She knew that ultrasound machines were followed by placing IV “pokes” into her tiny veins. Yes, my baby grew and learned so many things, but never the things I thought I would teach her.

Being in the hospital became normal, just something we routinely did in our family. At such a young age, she knew nothing else. She arrived at the hospital with all the joy of seeing her friends again—her nurses and doctors! She would announce with great flourish, “I HOME to my hospital!” as we entered the double doors to the floor.

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Her days were filled with games of hide and seek in the nurse’s station. Our Child Life workers would be the ones to bring bags of fun activities anytime a traumatic event was coming up. The volunteers were the ones who brought the cart of free toys and books to keep us busy. Special events like holiday celebrations, animal visits, and LEGO shopping parties were held. As horrible as the cancer world is for a child, there are people every step of the way seeking to make it a little bit easier. Their goal is to bring joy to these kids even as they fight for their lives. Because for many kids like my daughter, the cancer ward life is the only life they get to live.

As I think back to my daughter’s arrival at birth, it was quick. Her daddy and I were barely in the hospital 15 minutes before she made her appearance. I prayed, “Lord Jesus keep her in place until her appointed time.” Her birth was breathtaking.

Her death was different, though. She fought so hard to beat the cancer. Some months, we had a few wins with the tumors shrinking a bit. Most months, they stayed the same—until they didn’t. Once the cancer outsmarted the drugs, the tumors grew at the same breathtaking rate her arrival into this world had occurred. Literally overnight, those wretched tumors took off, filling her liver with pain and suffering.

Death, however, lingered a bit longer. It stood and watched as our family prepared. It gave us a few weeks to plan a funeral, make some memories, hold our girl, and breathe in with horrible anticipation of what was to come. This time, I prayed, “Lord, how do we make a plan to lay our child down in death?” I prayed that Jesus could guide me through the worst moment of my life. I knew I had to decide if I could still trust Jesus as I guided my baby closer and closer to the gates of Heaven.

I believe the answer arrived the day she took her final breath. In her final moments, the room was filled with the presence of Jesus. The peace I felt came from nowhere else than that of the Lord Jesus. My heart was bathed in that undeniable peace mentioned in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

There was no other explanation of how our family could watch as our youngest member closed her eyes in our presence and opened them to the face of Jesus. I had no doubt, no fears for her future. She was walking in the promise, “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

While I am filled with peace for her completed days, I still have to exist in the space between my time to be born and my time to die. I have to get up each morning and figure out how to keep moving while carrying the intense grief birthed from losing a child. That is hard!

As a parent, there were days I didn’t want to wake up, climb out of bed, and face the world. Most of my mornings began with tears before I lifted my head from my pillow. The one factor that kept pushing me forward was a simple phrase my youngest son shared with me. As I sat rocking him a few weeks after his sister died, he commented, “I can hear your heartbeat, Mom.”

“Yes, it’s beating for you,” I replied.

His answer was so truth-filled as he simply said, “No, it’s beating because you still have a purpose. I don’t know what it is, but God does.”

RELATED: God’s Grace Carried Me Through the Loss of My Son

Having other children who needed me, their mama, to be here for them was a huge motivation to me in realizing that while I will not get over my grief, I can learn to carry it and still experience joy in my life again. Remembering that I have a God-ordained purpose also helps me use the pain I have endured from losing my girl to help other people walk through their grief.

I have found that when you are a grieving mama, people watch you closely. They are watching with concern-filled eyes, hoping to glimpse how I walk through this loss. They are watching to see where my hope and strength come from. They are waiting as they wonder how they would survive this same loss if tragedy hit their family. They want to know if I would still trust the Lord as I carried this heartbreak through life. They wanted the assurance that God was still good despite devastatingly hard circumstances.

My days began as a tiny baby over 17,155 days ago. Many of those days have been filled with the greatest joys. Some of those days have been wrecked with deepest sorrows. However, not one of those days has the Lord forsaken me or left me by myself. So many things in the world have changed during my lifetime, but gratefully, the faithfulness of our Lord is not one of them: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Until the Lord calls me home on my last day, I will continue to praise him. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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Courtney Mount

Millie's Mama, Courtney Mount became an author when Millie was diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma in the summer of 2019. She is a Christian wife and homeschooling mother to nine children. She and her husband live on an 80-acre hobby farm where they enjoy playing with the kids and grandchildren. Courtney is the Author of the children's book, "Millie Finds Her Miracle" which is a gentle introduction to death for young children. She frequently blogs on Millie's Miracle FB page, shares her stories on HVFH, and has been a featured guest on numerous podcasts. She is currently writing a book about grief, surviving loss, and embracing Millie's Miracle that brought healing from cancer in heaven.  Find more on MilliesMiracle.Net

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