October 4, 2019. “Hi, Kristen. This is the constable. I need you to give me a call.”
Those words will forever ring clear in my mind. My husband and I just found out we were expecting our third baby. We were going to have three—three and under. Afraid, thrilled, and overwhelmed, I ended up getting checked by the doctor that Friday morning, just to make sure everything was OK.
Those were the words that met me as I ended my hospital visit and checked my voicemail. I quickly dialed back, the most afraid I have ever been in my life. A million thoughts in my mind. Was someone hurt? Did my oldest boy sneak off and got lost? Is my husband OK?
When I called through teary eyes that morning and asked if everything was OK, I will always remember the constable’s shaky response, “It’s Sarah.” What? My 11-month-old baby girl? She was the last person I thought he would be calling about. Asking the question, I never wanted to hear the answer to, I calmly asked, “Is she OK? What’s wrong?”
With tears in his eyes, the constable responded, “No. Everything is not OK. I need to speak to a nurse.” I handed over the phone. Looking at the nurse’s face, I knew. I prayed quietly, God, if she is hurt beyond repair, I pray her soul would be with you in Heaven. I pray that you would hold her.
I waited in a room for what felt like days. A doctor I knew well came in with tears in his eyes and said, “She’s gone, Kristen. Sarah’s gone.”
Broken, I sobbed, “I just don’t understand.” That big, wonderful man, he held me. He cried with me, and then he prayed with me. Without an explanation of what had happened to my daughter and without being able to speak to my husband, a police car drove me home. When I got to our house, I saw our close friends standing around my husband who stood on the steps with his face in his hands, my body was struck with shock. When he looked up, he came running to me. We held each other closer than we ever have. I looked at him and said three things. “It’s not your fault, I love you, and we are in this together.”
When we went inside and I held my baby girl for the last time, I kept picturing her in Heaven with Jesus. I told her I couldn’t wait to see her again, and that we love her. I touched her little toes and stroked her strawberry blonde hair. In that final goodbye, my heart felt a glimpse of hope and joy. Hope in knowing I would see her again and joy in knowing she would never feel pain or cry any more tears.
I can’t explain to you what the next few weeks entailed or how we got through them. We felt pain like we never knew, but we also felt peace like we’ve never felt.
We felt carried. We felt carried by God and by our community. When we got the call about our daughter’s death and what had happened, my mind couldn’t make sense of it. Undetermined. Undetermined? How does a baby just pass in her sleep? How does she lay down, and not wake up?
Answers we will never know. Questions I know other parents have had to ask, and one that leaves a gaping hole. One that makes you question the very depths of your faith.
On October 16th, we buried our daughter. My husband is a craftsman, and though he was not up to the task of making her casket, his best friends Mitch and Adam did. It was made of beautiful hardwood donated by the high school we grew up in. On her casket was engraved Princess, which is the meaning of her name. Above it was a crown. The words of Psalm 139 were also engraved on there.
At the funeral we read Psalm 139:16, “. . . all your days ordained for me were written in your book, before one of them came to be.” Though I do not have answers for why or how, I do have hope in knowing that her life was ordained . . . up until her final breathe.
As a mother, I hold onto that and trust that even though I do not understand.
Though questions have come and gone, and I believe they always will, I hold fast to Psalm 139 and to the promise that God is good. Even in the midst of pain and suffering. I hold with every breath that I will see my beautiful daughter again. I hold onto this with hope.
Losing her has taught me to hold my husband and my boys a little closer. To be a little kinder. To focus more on eternity and to give grace a little more freely.