I read this at Hannah's memorial service this morning.
My dear Hannah girl,
Your due date was this week. The day that I have anticipated since we knew you were growing inside me. As soon as we knew you were on your way, I wondered about a lot—like how close you’d come to Jack’s birthday. I wondered how long I’d be in labor with you. I wondered whether our first “surprise” baby would be a boy or girl! I wondered if you’d have hair. I wondered how big you’d be. It never occurred to me to wonder if you’d actually make it to your due date. To wonder if we’d have the privilege of bringing you home from the hospital. To wonder if you were anything but absolutely perfect.
I think it’s safe to say that our lives changed forever on November 3rd. To find out that you were not going to join our family on this earth after all. To find out that for some reason, God chose to take you to heaven before you got to be ours. To find out that the only time I’d have to hold you, you’d already be gone. You see, God had bigger plans for you. Unfortunately for us, those plans didn’t include life on earth. And something that brought me peace from day one was knowing that there is a much bigger picture that we can only see a part of. God sees it all.
Your tiny body was placed in my arms at 2:05 am on November 5th, and I couldn’t believe how small you were. But you need to know that even though you weighed less than one pound, your weight in this world was significant. Your life mattered. And with all due respect to my other babies, you were the most beautiful baby I’d ever seen. You might not have had a perfect button nose or chubby legs. But you bore the image of the One who made you. And that, my dear, is where true beauty lies.
In the four months since we said hello and goodbye, we’ve missed you so much. It’s amazing the depth of pain and loss we feel for someone who never even took a breath in this world. But it’s not just mourning the 23 weeks of your existence. We’re mourning the hopes and dreams that we had for you. You were going to be our third and final baby. You were going to be a baby sister to Jack and Leah. You were going to grow into a beautiful young woman and have babies of your own someday. We are missing out on not knowing your personality. Your quirks. Your fears and dreams. We will miss getting to know you. We will miss reading to you and singing with you.
Your brother and sister love to talk about you. Jackson wants to know if you are an artist like him. Leah wants to know what color your eyes are. She’s pretty sure they are blue like hers and Mommy’s. She loves holding our Hannah bear. She sings to it and talks to it like she’s talking to her baby sister.
Our lives have changed and our hearts are sad, but we know deep down that you’re the lucky one. As one of my favorite new songs says, “I can’t imagine heaven’s lullabies and what they must sound like. But I will rest in knowing heaven is your home and it’s all you’ll ever know.” You will never know the pain of this world. Heaven, in all its perfection, is the only home you will ever know! And you get to hang out with the One who MADE you! His was the first face you saw. And as He holds your hand, he also carries us and holds us close. God is good, Hannah Marie. He is so good.
A friend asked me a hypothetical question a couple of months ago. Would we ever go back and change our circumstances if given the chance? To decide not to carry you if we knew from the beginning that you wouldn’t be ours forever? My answer was “Of COURSE not!” I got to spend 23 glorious weeks carrying you and loving you and learning from you. And you taught all of us so much in your short life and death. You taught me how to be brave. You taught us what it meant to feel peace in the midst of despair. To actually comprehend the peace that passes all understanding. You taught me how to love more deeply. You taught me how to be a better mom to Jack and Leah. Thank you.
And now, could you do me a favor? Could you go find my Mimi and give her a kiss? And my Poppa? And Grandpa? And Uncle Robin? And could you go hug Julie? And Michele? And Marie? And Nick? And if you need some playmates, go find Dana, and Isaiah, and Grace, and Brendan, and Ethan, and Abigail, and Eve, and Noah, and Chase, and Joshua, and the countless other babies who left entirely too soon.
Psalm 27:13, 14 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Hannah Marie, I love you.