I'm not sure if or when I'll ever write the complete story of Mia's gestation, life, and death. Every part is infused with meaningful expressions of God's rich love to me. As hard as this has been, God has faithfully held my heart through all of it. If I ever tell the complete story, I don't want to risk leaving out a single important detail. Even then, there will be pieces that only God and I will ever know. Along the way, I'll give you some of the beautiful(and difficult) parts that I feel would be most beneficial.
It was Monday morning, June 4th, 2012 that my husband and I sat in a private ER waiting room at Emmanuel Medical Center in Turlock, California. As our daughter was being cared for in the other room, we sat dumbfounded on a hospital couch. Regardless of how hard I try to remember, I don't know when we spoke to each other about needing help. We felt lost and unsure of what we should do. The hospital had furnished us with their on-duty chaplain, and Anglican pastor from an established church in town. We needed someone to help still our hearts- who should we call? Instantly, we knew we needed to call our pastor.
What a relief it was to see him. I don't remember everything we talked about but I do remember his reassuring demeanor. He spoke softly and mirrored our moods. When precious Mia was flown via helicopter to Madera Children's Hospital, he volunteered to drive us there in our car. Although my instincts told me to rush down there, our pastor knew that we needed to take care of ourselves; we stopped for sandwiches before driving upwards of two hours to reach our daughter.
Our pastor stayed with us for a very long day of waiting and being in shock. His darling wife drove all the way down to pick him up and to spend time with us. That was the beginning of a very hard road. It was a critical day that was handled with tenderness. When the children's hospital staff asked if we needed a psychologist or chaplain, we thankfully said with a smile, "No thanks, we have our pastor."
After we spread the sad news of Mia's death, our church, family, and friends sprang into action. My younger sister was already on a plane before we knew that Mia would not recover. My parents were able to visit Mia the night she was in the Pediatric ICU in Madera. Derrick's dad and his wife arrived from Illinois the night she died. In the next days, all EIGHT of our siblings and their families arrived for Mia's funeral. My brother drove across the country from Georgia with his wife and four young children. My pregnant sister drove from Texas with her husband and two small children, with her teenage son flying directly from a school trip in Florida. Derrick's brother and wife found someone to care for their three daughters so they could have their hands free to help us. It was wonderful to spend this time with our siblings, their spouses and children, and our parents.
It is a very good thing adrenaline kicked in to assist us in planning the funeral. Even so, we were almost immediately overwhelmed with correspondence and with planning the many details of giving Mia a public goodbye. My good friend, who happens to also be my pastor's wife, volunteered to organize many details concerning the funeral and logistics for our family. Another good friend began handling the details of furnishing us with meals for quite some time after Mia's funeral. We are just now nearing the end of receiving several meals each week, rotating between our church(First Ripon CRC), my parents' church (Zion URC), my MOMS Club, my MOPS Club, and parents and colleagues at Big Valley Christian School(my employer). I don't know if we would be able to reestablish our family's home life if I did not have help with providing these meals. I think the sheer anxiety of shopping and planning for dinners would have delayed my grieving for Mia.
The evening before we met with two funeral homes, two good friends came to sit and speak with me. God knew just what I needed that night. Even though I am not at all prone to obsession with angels, I told them that I felt He flew them directly to my side. I didn't understand what emotions were beginning to do to my mind and my body. My arms were numb and tingly; sometimes I couldn't move them at all. My mind faded in-and-out of being cognitively aware of my surroundings. One friend is a licensed therapist who had lost her son twenty-five years earlier at about a month-old. She was able to tell me basic things I needed to know about grief and trauma, since I had never experienced such acute grief. The other friend held my hand and rubbed my neck while I sat numb on the couch as we talked.
The memorial service for Mia was beautiful- I will most likely include pieces of it here in the future. Many people remarked how well our church took care of every detail. Our family was tender and thoughtful and present the entire time. A multitude of friends attended- ones we have contact with currently and ones we had not seen in awhile. What I mostly remember of that day is the white dress and pink jewelry I wore in honor of my little girl. I still wear the pink jewelry in her memory. Sadly, I was numb for almost the entire viewing and funeral. To keep it brief, I did not experience most of the weight of grief until the day after the funeral when a tidal wave of anxiety and sadness washed over me... and lasted for a long time.
About two months later, Derrick and I reflected on this period of grieving with two dear elders from our church. As we visited with these understanding men at our dining table, I told them with deep conviction that God had been so faithful and loving to us. One man remarked that we had allowed avenues for God to show His love through His people. I realize that we were cushioned primarily by the support from our family and our church. I have felt like proclaiming from every street corner: "Run, don't walk, to join a local church!" Our family could only do so much as they were also grieving. However, our church seemed like a never-ending source of deep friendship and practical help for us.
Mia and I had sat in Bible study this Spring as we studied the book of Hebrews; in chapter ten it says,"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another." We never imagined needing so much support. It was the support from our church that was the support system we needed. These people listened to God as He moved them to help us in our great need.