BIRTH and DEATH - a holy baptism of raw pain and transforming joy

Last year about this time, I attended the funeral of my grandson Caleb and the birth of my grand daughter Lily within hours of each other. Now each spring I am transported back to that time. I know through personal experience that our entrance and exit from this stage called life is sacred - a holy baptism of raw pain and transforming joy.


I watch as the monitors in the hospital room flash Caleb’s vital signs. Glowing numbers appear and disappear - lower and slower.

The lights go out. 

“Don’t leave me,” Mathew sobs while he holds his dead brother in his arms. “You’re my best friend.” 

Can’t hold on to life. Can’t protect my loved ones from this exquisite pain. 

“Oh God, please help us.”

All we can do is cling to each other. Grief – a giant wave washes over us – we can’t breathe. Cold and trembling on the shore.

I see my daughter’s eyes.

Another wave.

“It was such a privilege to be your mother,” April whispers gently kissing Caleb and pulling a soft yellow blanket around his shoulders. 

Another wave.

Holding Mitchell’s tiny hand while we walk from the hospital.

“I wish Caleb could come alive again,” Mitchell says.

“Me too,” I answer. 


Ashley calls in the night. 

“Mom, my water just broke. Can you be with me?”

Another wave.

Hospital again. Monitor flashes Ashley’s vital signs. 
Labor contractions crest and fall. 
Minutes tick by as the waves gradually get closer and closer, 
the pain - stronger and stronger until she can bear it no longer. 

Ashley cries out in pain.

Another wave.

I cannot protect my loved one from this exquisite pain. All we can do was cling to each other.

"Oh God please help us."

“Push!” I promise. “Push through the pain. Lily is almost here. You can do it.”

Father's hands reach out and grasp his newborn daughter. Lily in her mother's arms. Exquisite joy. 

Birth and death. 

Light and dark. 

Joy and sorrow.

We can’t have one without the other.

I went alone to see Caleb's new headstone at the cemetery this week. I miss him. Yet this I know. 

Caleb is near. Lily is here.

Cycle of living, season of song, embraces and whispers, 

“Life goes on.”
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1 comment:

shirlgirl said...

What a heartfelt post, Janene. Thanks for sharing your heart and feelings.