I wrote this letter for the daughter of a friend, whose baby was born at 24 weeks and lived just a few short hours in her arms...she's given me permission to share it here as a tribute to her sweet baby girl.
Dear Sweet Rachel,
I never got the chance to meet you. Few of us did. You spent the few short hours of your life in the loving embrace of your Mommy, one of the bravest women I know.
I never even got to see you inside your Mommy’s belly, watch your growing body make her stomach swell, feel your little feet kicking against the confines of her womb. In fact, I don’t think I've even seen your Mommy in ten or more years, since we lived in the same college dorm and worshiped together with other students in our campus fellowship. I've seen pictures of her and your sisters and your Daddy on Facebook, and we've exchanged a few e-mails. But I haven’t really been a part of your family’s life in any meaningful way.
I didn't know you Rachel, and I don’t really know your family all that well, but I do know a few things about you, things that I want somehow to make sure you know too.
First, I want you to know that your life was very real. It was real to your Mommy and Daddy and to your big sisters and to so many of us who prayed round the clock that you would be born healthy and strong. It was real to the doctors and nurses who fought for you to live. Most importantly, it was real to the God of the Universe, who made you and knew you in all the ways we wish we could and so many more. Your life, as short as it was, was real, and your absence leaves a big, big hole in a family already grieving the loss of your Daddy.
Second, I want you to know that your Mommy is an amazing woman. Even from my distance, I can see that clearly. She loved you, deeply and selflessly. Even when your Daddy died suddenly, even when she found out two days later that you had spina bifida, she loved you. In the midst of her own deep grief and the very sobering realities of your health, she took the time to tell me that she felt blessed to have been chosen by God to care for you. She risked her own body in hopes of giving you a stronger, fuller life. And when you came too soon, too small, too fragile, she simply held you. She loved you Rachel.
I believe you are in Heaven now, that in ways I cannot begin to understand you know the full realities of selfless love. But I hope you can see too that your short life on earth, spent in your Mommy’s womb and then ever-so-briefly in her arms, were a beautiful picture of what you now know in full – selfless, sacrificial love.
When I see your Mommy, I see Jesus, and I hope that as you look at Jesus, you see a bit of your Mommy too.
I look forward to meeting you one day, Rachel.
p.s. If you meet a little girl named Avaleen, please give her a big hug for me.