Our four year old grandson came bursting through the elevator doors and as he saw me standing in the room, he excitedly announced, “Gramma, my baby brother is being born right now!” His face was aglow. For the past months, he had been in the conditioning mode to accept a baby brother into his life. Less alone-time with Mommy, more single outings with daddy to provide Mommy-baby times, and knowing he would need to share his toys. He was no less than a bundle of joy as excitement oozed out from every cell of his being and his beaming face proved it.
I quickly glanced over at my son for his reaction. My heart stopped beating for just a moment as I also awaited his reaction to his little guy’s excited announcement.
As my son bent to his son’s level and explained baby Spencer was born, he died, and went to heaven. “Why?” Jesus wanted him to come right away. “But Why?” Remember your grandpa who went to heaven? Spencer will be with him now. “But Why?”
But why indeed? It was 8 months into the pregnancy and only the previous day, Mommy had a check up to hear that everything was fine, he has a strong heartbeat, and he was kicking away during the day. It happened so fast and the doctor was initially concerned that Mommy may not make it either. But Why?
Spencer had a headful of curly red hair—just like our daughter-in-law. At 8 months, he looked fully developed. His eyelashes were formed, his tiny fingers were perfect. He was perfect. But he wasn’t. Why indeed? My son and daughter-in-law discussed the what-if litany of questions as they searched for meaning, understanding, and something to lessen their pain. What if he could have lived a couple of days, months, or years so they would have had a chance to know him, what if, what if, and what if. Why?
It was April. It was the day of the planned baby shower. It was nothing but sorrow, pain, comforting, questioning, and hurting.
During the summer, while in the vehicle with his mommy, the 4-year old made a statement to her that came from out of the blue. “Mommy, I know why Spencer died.” Cautiously, Mommy asked “Why?” and he responded “because you and daddy have me. And some parents don’t have any baby, so God gave him to them.” From the mouth of a 4-year-old! What do you say? He obviously had pondered his own ‘Why?’ questions even at his tender young age.
We look to make sense, we look for the message in the mess. We want answers. We create stories to hold the hurt, to create the sense, to find a way to make the memory important. His tiny short life mattered. He touched lives. He changed lives. He can still bring tears. Especially during each April, when the memory is so strong that we are all in that hospital room hearing the excitement of a 4-year-old amidst the agony and pain of the parents and everyone who loved them and wanted to take the pain away—but couldn’t. It’s been 19 years. It still hurts. He was Spencer Thomas. He still is.
This story is not all sad. 5 children bless their lives today and will be able to celebrate the upcoming Mother’s Day. But somewhere in her heart, little silent Spencer will continue to find his way to say Love never ends and remind us all that a parent’s love is forever. Happy Mother’s Day—even when the story is not perfect.
Not all stories are happy, but all stories hold a piece of life, of the memory, of the meaning we create; and through sharing our stories, we can find resiliency and maybe eventually find a degree of peace.
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