What “should” have been…

Yesterday, I should’ve been frosting a cake with pink icing.

There should have been an excited little girl running around in a party dress, eager to blow out candles and open gifts.

Instead, there was a party given in memory of, rather than in honor of, my daughter Celeste. She would’ve turned five yesterday had not she gone home to Heaven when she was only four months old.

Those of us who have lost children can easily be consumed by “should haves.” The death of a child is so unnatural, so difficult to bear, largely because the death is accompanied by a thousand other losses. We lose the birthday parties, the landmarks of childhood, the accomplishments and triumphs that should have been. We have no teeth to put under pillows for the tooth fairy, no bicycles to learn to ride, no brides to give away at the altar.

If not for faith, I realize I could have given in to the “should haves” myself. It’s only through the eyes of faith that I’ve been able to see that my daughter’s life, while brief, was a pure and unadulterated blessing. Because I loved her, and because I love Him who gave her to me, I can see that what is is far more important than what “should” have been.

What is….the truth is I was blessed with a baby. I was given a beautiful, unique person to love. The fact that my time on earth with her was limited doesn’t limit my love – or my choice to rejoice in that love.

What is….I was given an opportunity to witness a pure soul’s suffering, and to watch the transformation of almost everyone who has come to know about her. I was given a daughter who now intercedes for me at the throne of God, the most profound grace I am likely to ever know, a grace most undeserved.

What is…I was blessed with an awakening of the awareness of God’s personal gifts to me in many areas of my life. As I held my daughter in my arms as she died, I made two promises to her. I promised I would share her story, and I promised I would live a full life, the kind of live she could have lived. I would not exist in bitterness and anger. Her legacy would be one of hope and joy.

I fulfilled the first promise when I published my book Broken and Blessed: A Life Story. I continue to be amazed at how God is touching lives and breaking open hearts through little Celeste Marie’s story. The second promise is ongoing, and sometimes difficult to complete. But each day I remind myself of it; Celeste had only four months to glorify God with her life, and she did. I’ve had more than four decades. What have I done? Not nearly enough. So I continue to seek joy, and peace, and beauty in every day I have been given.

When I contemplate the many parents who mourn with me, those who have suffered miscarriages and stillbirths, failed adoptions, and infertility, those who have lost children of any age, my heart breaks. I grieve with them for all that should have been. But I rejoice for what is…the truth that we have a loving Savior who suffers with us, who suffered first and in our place.

What is….through Him we have hope. We have the understanding that all things work together for the good of those who love Him. And by loving Him were are able to live through all that is, until the only reality is eternal reunion and everlasting joy.

What is…a family blessed beyond measure.

It is a privilege to contribute to the Apostolate of Hannah’s Tears blog. Please visit my blog from the field of blue children to keep in touch. Blessings, Cathy Adamkiewicz.

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