For the Baby I Didn't Get to Hold

A Poem for Grieving the Miscarried & Stillborn
On Sunday, August 25th, 2019, my nephew Timothy was stillborn. Named after my brother and my father, who died from cancer in 2011, Timothy was given only to spend 38 precious weeks growing and kicking in his mother's womb. While I cannot compare the tragic loss of my nephew to the experience of losing a child as a parent, I wanted to share the poem I wrote to Timothy as we were waiting between the tension of his death and his birth. Timothy is the son of my brother and sister-in-law, and by extension, so much a part of me as well. 

You should know that this poem was written in response to desperation I felt to hold him—to get to meet him in person and to lay eyes on him for myself before he would be swept away from us into eternity. In my grief and sorrow, I languished over the reality that I would not hold him, hug him, or kiss him until heaven. I imagine there are many family members who grieve the babies they didn't get to hold. We all just wanted to hold them, did we not?

Still do. Always will.

So, while this poem is for my dearest nephew, Timothy Sawyer, born 6 lbs. 5 oz. and 20 inches long, it is also for family members who have walked alongside a grieving parent—who have shed tears for a baby they never cradled in their arms. May the love for that child never be deferred, lost, or forgotten, but cherished and proudly worn as a reminder of the joyous reunion that awaits upon the horizon. May we grieve, may we hope, and may we look forward to the day when sad things come untrue.
Now people were even bringing their babies to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them. And when the disciples saw this, they rebuked those who brought them. But Jesus called the children to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
– Luke 18:16
You bypassed us on heaven’s highway,
Without so much as a sign.
Into the arms of God Almighty,
Now I must wait in line.

What did you know of this mortal place?
Surely the choicest finds:
A mother’s warmth, a father’s pride,
Loved ones who’ll wait in line.

Adoration was your blessed blanket,
You had provisions of every kind.
Yet you preceded us in glory;
Dear baby, I will wait in line.

What are we but borrowed breath,
Fooled by the myth of “mine?”
But you were just on loan to us,
And now we wait in line.

Numbered were your precious days;
counted, the sands of time.
Travel well into the promised land;
Lord, help me wait in line.

We grieve with hope, and to this end, 
Crave eternity sublime.
Sad things untrue, the dead made new,
Dear child, I will wait in line.
Love will keep me in this line.
To hold you, I will wait in line.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
- Revelation 21:4
Helpful Podcasts for Grieving Parents & Families
Hope + Help for Sudden Tragedy with Cameron Cole
In this episode of The Hope + Help Project, Christine Chappell interviews author Cameron Cole about living through your worst nightmare and his book, Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths that Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem in Tragedy. Cameron shares about the sudden death of his 3-year-old son, some of the raw emotions and thoughts that arise when facing unexpected bereavement, and how the gospel of Jesus Christ comforts and sustains in times of excruciating grief. He also addresses the harmful mentalities Christians can mistakenly adopt during the grieving process and encourages mourners to cling to God's provisional grace to make it through impossible days.
Hope + Help for the Broken-Hearted with Mark Vroegop
In this episode of The Hope + Help Project, Christine Chappell interviews author/pastor Mark Vroegop on the topic of his new book, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy, learning how the God-given language of lament offers the broken-hearted hope and help for life’s sorrowful seasons. During the conversation, Pastor Mark shares his family's personal story of tragic loss, and how lament provided them—and ultimately, his church community—an outlet for their pains to be voiced while placing their trust in God. We talk about the key components of lament, heart-attitude cautions (what lament isn't), and why today's culture has such a hard time walking alongside broken-hearted people. Pastor Mark also offers practical steps for traveling by faith through grief and sorrow, as well as encouragements on how to cling to biblical hope, even when we've lost all sense of it.
Hope + Help for Facing Infertility with Glenna Marshall
In this episode of The Hope + Help Project, Christine Chappell interviews author/writer Glenna Marshall on the topic of infertility, suffering, and her new book, The Promise is His Presence: Why God is Always Enough. During the conversation, Glenna shares about her personal experiences with infertility, church hurt, and chronic illness, unpacking the devastating heartbreak of deferred hope and the dangers of basing our beliefs about God's goodness on whether or not he will give us "good" things. Glenna shares how her struggle with infertility negatively impacted church fellowship and personal friendships, gives suggestions on how to respond to seasons of spiritual dryness, and soothes sufferers with words of comfort for when the grief of barrenness feels all-consuming.
Christine M. Chappell
Christine Chappell is the author of Clean Home, Messy Heart and is the host of The Hope + Help Project podcast. She writes frequently about depression, sorrow, grief, and motherhood at her blog, has completed biblical counseling certificates with the Institute for Biblical Counseling & Discipleship, and is currently pursuing certification with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. Christine's writing has been featured at Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Risen Motherhood, Servants of Grace, Thrive Moms, Devotable, and For Every Mom.
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