January 12, 2010. Haiti.
March 11, 2011. Japan.
June 27, 2011. Tennessee.
Two of the three are catastrophic acts of nature. The third on the list was a disaster that seemed anything but natural.
A day like any other day. A mama shuffling to the door of the baby’s room, padding feet toward his crib. Her boy – no breath. And she quaked.
“After I felt his back and knew he wasn’t with me anymore, I picked up his body and held it against me. Our skin touched just as it did when he was handed to me, when he was born. He came into this world and touched my chest, and he left it and touched my chest also.”
You might call it hyperbole, placing cataclysmic earthquakes – death tolls in the hundreds of thousands – on the same scale as the death of one green-eyed boy. But who can measure the weight of a life? Who can know the heavy that lay on the chest of that mama, that day when the world wouldn’t stop quaking?
But there’s a secret that survivors know … one worth sharing:
Though the initial quake is most impressive on the Richter scale, it is sometimes true that the aftershocks do the most damage.
One source explains the science of aftershocks this way:
Even though the major strain between two plates is released by the initial quake, their touching edges still need to adjust to new positions. The edges may not be able to pass each other smoothly, and this additional realignment creates the smaller shocks. [Forces of Nature]
How could she have known, this mama quaking in her initial grief, that there would be days that felt just as hard, maybe even harder because they lacked the veil of the surreal? She couldn’t have seen, then, what the “adjusting to new positions” that seismologists speak of would soon mean for a broken marriage, a dismantled family, a diagnosis that simply means “unexplained.”
To be brought low by grief is to feel your own defenselessness.
Fiercely independent, we actively resist such vulnerability. We set our jaw and dig in our heels and endeavor to do it on our own.
This is why natural disasters – and other sudden tragedies – are so unsettling. They originate in a sphere that is totally outside our realm of control. Beyond our sovereignty over our own lives. We sturdy ourselves, we dig in our heels, and the very ground beneath us topples.
If we’re smart, we learn, when the tremors start, to find a safe place. Something strong to cling to. For Amber Feyen, that cornerstone in the throes of grief is the same God who blessed her with Noah’s life. When she remembers those green eyes, that halo of blond hair, she can bear the present quake because she knows what steady hope lies in her future.
Knows it so deep that she was not surprised when one night, as she slept, a glimpse of heaven was given to her, one that ought to stir something seismic in all of us:
He was once again against my chest, only this time, he was laughing. The laugh was so perfectly Noah that I looked down at him and laughed with him so hard and loud. We spun and spun in the light with our eyes locked on each other. Spinning and spinning. Laughing and so free. God is so wonderful to send that dream to me so I could touch my baby one last time …
Will you pray for Amber, and for her daughter, Emily, in the hard days ahead? Banebow has enjoyed the privilege of helping them survive the first few weeks and months, but the journey through grief is long. Stories like Amber’s are the reason that Banebow exists, and your prayers help our ministry much more than you may know.