Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sometimes Love Is Hard To See...

But that’s because it carries us.

Faith when a baby diesTwo years ago I was in a beautiful place – a church leadership camp in a snowy, pine-filled haven. Hannah was only two months old, but Clint and I had decided to brave the trip anyway. It was too great of an experience to pass up – fellowship with good friends, great Bible teaching, beautiful surroundings, snow crunching under our boots…

It had been a wonderful weekend; a much-needed, restful vacation with so much encouragement and food for our souls. It was perfect for our first real outing as a little family.

Most of the time I was lacking cell service, but I managed to catch a call from my dad. He told me that Riley, my sister’s one-month-old baby, was in the hospital. The details weren’t yet clear, but he was sick, and the doctors were running tests.

Concerned and unsure of how serious the problem was, I continued to pray for Riley throughout that evening. I prayed for my sister and her husband as well, that they would find strength and comfort and peace during such a scary time. Since our babies were only about a month apart, I could imagine the anxiety they must have been feeling.

Being in such a spiritually uplifting atmosphere, I found it easy to stay positive. Although I was worried, I knew that it was in God’s hands and that His plan is always perfect. I just hoped that this was a time when His plan would align with ours.

That night Hannah slept well. I remember mentioning that to a friend the next morning because I was so pleased to have gotten several hours of rest. I had really been struggling with the lack of sleep and was desperately hoping that this was a sign of better days ahead.

I had turned off my phone for the night because I’d forgotten my charger, so I turned it back on to see if I had a signal and if there was any more news. I had a text message and some voicemails. I opened the message first.

“Riley passed away this morning.”



But those words don’t do the feelings justice.
I don’t know how long I sat staring at the words on the screen as I tried to figure out what to do, as if doing anything could change the circumstances. Finally I asked a friend to keep an eye on Hannah and went to go find Clint in the boys’ cabin.

It was still early and most of them were still asleep, so I quietly made my way through the dark cabin until I reached Clint’s bed. I finally let the meaning of the words sink in as I spoke them: “Riley died.”
I buried my head in his chest as I wept. Then I went back outside and trudged through the snow until I saw a signal on my phone. I called my dad and stood alone in the middle of the cabins, in the midst of the pure white glow of the dawn, and we cried. There wasn’t much to say. All we could do was cry.

I went back in my cabin, sat on my bed, and watched Hannah sleep. I had been so thankful that she was asleep. Now I felt guilty for wanting sleep. It felt like such a hollow reason to give thanks.
I know the truth. I know God’s love is unwavering. I know that each and every life is precious to Him and that our earthly concepts of love don’t even hold a candle to His. I know that like any parent, He does not want to see His children suffer. I know He doesn’t make mistakes. I know He gives abundantly.

But there are days when knowing doesn’t translate into trusting, days when faith is even harder than we ever could have imagined. That’s when all we have to lean on is the fact that He’s carrying us. He knows of trials; He knows of suffering better than any of us. So He also knows how best to carry us.
I wish I could take her pain away. I wish I could make it not true, that I could go back and stop it from happening. I wish Riley could still be here with us. But I am thankful for the love he brought into her life and for the love that he continues to receive.

Today of all days, I’m so very thankful for love. I know that Riley is celebrating Valentine’s Day surrounded by a choir of angels, in the arms of the One who loved him first.
Loss of a baby
In Loving Memory of Riley Andru
January 14, 2010 - February 14, 2010


  1. Touching...sad...real. Rachel...I think you may have missed your calling as a writer. Love reading...

    1. Thank you, Gina! I love sharing my stories with you all. I hope they are an encouragement.

  2. Oh my - tears and sadness for your family - but somehow your words carry through a message of love, faith and hope.

    1. Thanks so much, Nessa. It's a difficult topic to write about, but I really wanted to honor his memory through the eyes of faith.

  3. Oh wow...that was gut wrenching just reading it. I can only imagine how you felt and then your sister. I am really really sorry for your loss. What a precious gift is Riley.

    1. Thanks, Rachel. I know we are all blessed to carry him with us through our lives.