Nathanael David Cross lived a short, 13 week life. But he was important. He mattered. He still matters to us. Though his name is not one we had been considering before his passing, we decided we wanted to pack as much meaning as possible into his short existence. Nathanael means “gift of God” and David means “beloved.” We thought it fit him.
Most people talk about pregnancy as if it’s a time where they may have some fears and they hate getting “fat”, but generally everything is like puppies and rainbows with an extra pregnancy “glow.” For me, pregnancy was a tumultuous roller coaster of joy and caution before finally landing at despair.
One week after we shared our joy with the world, our baby was lost to us. At my gut level I knew something was wrong before we definitively knew, but I was trying to convince myself I was just being a neurotic pregnant woman. When a friend of ours pulled our baby up on an ultrasound screen and hung her head a few seconds later, we were punched in the gut with the reality of our new place in life. We were no longer expecting parents. We were grieving pseudo-parents. Could we even call ourselves parents? We concluded yes; otherwise this wouldn’t hurt so much.
The day after a sleepless night we got in the car and drove aimlessly around the county before parking to watch the sunrise. It was officially a new day, even though the day before didn’t really seem to end for us. The sun was fully shining and the sky was so blue. I remember asking myself how the world around me could be so radiantly beautiful when my personal world was so dark. It didn’t fit. Those first days following my miscarriage seemed endless. One week later it felt like it had been a year that we’d been feeling the way we were. But we tried to carry on, “get through it.”
Mostly I’ve been keeping to myself during this time, relying on my husband and a few family members to help me through the fits of grief and anxiety attacks. I’ve never had an anxiety attack in my life. But they’re part of me now. Just like Nathanael.
My husband and I have concluded that nothing we’ve experienced thus far in life compares to this pain. It’s numbing. It’s gut-wrenching. You feel it in places you didn’t know could feel pain. We don’t even really know how to get through this. The worst part, I think? God doesn’t take away the pain. Even though you desperately want Him to. But He walks with us in it.
It hasn’t been very comforting to me until today to hear those words. He walks with us in it. I haven’t wanted to hear of God’s goodness or his faithfulness, and though the people who have spoken these things to me fully believe them and have the best intentions in saying them, I haven’t wanted to hear them. Because I doubted those words. I think it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever doubted God’s goodness or his faithfulness to me.
But today I know that God is good. God is faithful. I know these words to be true because even as I sit and here and tell him how angry I am at Him for not keeping this tragedy from my life, for not saving my baby…I know He’s listening to me. He hasn’t walked away. And He can handle it. He can handle my doubt. He can handle my anger. He can certainly handle my pain and the ways I might express it that don’t make sense to anyone else but Him. He’s walking with me. And today I’m letting Him do that. At least I’m trying.
One of my favorite pastors, Timothy Keller, said, “We undergo deep suffering out of deep love.” I feel like I understand that more now than ever. But so does my God. I can remind myself today that He underwent all the suffering of the world. For me. And for Nathanael. So I can say thank you and cling to the words that David wrote many years ago:
“You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again.” Psalm 71: 20-21
He will revive me in His time. And he will continue to unpack his faithfulness and goodness in my life, even as I doubt, grieve, and cry out to Him in anger and pain. I just have to let him. Yes, Nathanael’s short life was important and had purpose. I’m starting to see how much of a gift he was.