by Michelle Meader with Dave Franco | April 17, 2019

The doctor turned off the sonogram. With a deliberate turn and a solemn expression, he looked at me. “I have bad news,” he said. “Your baby’s heart has stopped beating. I’m so sorry.”

Chris and I looked at each other quizzically. We hugged each other in silence, then pulled back. “I need a moment,” I told him.

I walked into the restroom and then steadied myself against the counter where I started to tremble. Tears began to roll, and my body heaved. I wrapped my arms around my belly and fell to my knees.

“Why, God? Why take my Luca!” I screamed, my voice echoing off the walls. Could this be happening? My mind traveled back six months to when Chris and I sat on our couch, name books in hand. “What about Luca?” I remembered asking.

“Luca,” Chris said thoughtfully. “That’s cute. What does it mean?"

"What does it mean?” “Bringer of light,” I replied. He looked around, trying it on.“Luca—Bringer of light,” he said. “I love it.”

“Bringer of light,” I replied. He looked around, trying it on.

“Luca—Bringer of light,” he said. “I love it.”

It was the happiest we had been since we had miscarried. God was so good to give us another chance. Our Luca had certainly lived up to the meaning of her name and brightened our lives.

Now as I lay crying on the bathroom floor, all I could think was that my daughter’s light was extinguished forever. I hurt everywhere.

Suddenly, a miracle. “You can keep asking Me why, Michelle,” I heard a voice say inside my spirit, “but it will be a painful road, and you may never know the answer. Or you can trust Me.”

I looked at my swollen face. I rubbed my belly again. And suddenly I said it. Perhaps more significantly, suddenly I meant it. “I choose to trust You, Lord,” I said. It was all I had.

It was so unlike me, especially in the face of tragedy. But God was about to show us that trust is not something you do but a power you unleash.

I walked back to where Chris was and told him I felt God was asking us to trust Him. He felt the same. The doctor gave us the option of going home to digest what had happened or be admitted. Nothing felt right about spending an agonizing few days with Luca still in my belly. “We’ll do it now,” we said. We couldn’t wait to see her, but it was going to be the most painful homecoming imaginable.

They took us to room 321. “The Trinity,” we said to each other. “God is with us.” Our trust swelled.

In time, family and Rock friends came to cry with us and pray. We could feel rays of God’s light, like bolts of joy, sent to give us the certainty that He was close and in control. The feeling was indescribable.

Our attending nurse took our hands and told us she was a Christian who thought she was working this day just to get in a few more hours on her paycheck. “I’ll be with you till the end,” she told us. God had provided an angel.

Soon, it was time to push Luca into this world. Our nurse took our hands and prayed powerfully, and we felt God protecting us. I closed my eyes, pushed and suddenly Luca was in the doctor’s hands.

When I opened my eyes, there was a light in the room that I hadn’t seen before.

The color was warmer as if the room had been set aglow. For a few moments, I let myself bathe in the light that I knew was there for Luca’s arrival.

When the doctor handed Luca to me, her hands were folded in the prayer position. I looked at my little girl. “You’re here, my sweet girl,” I said, my voice cracking. “I’m so sorry we couldn’t spend our lives together.” After 24 hours of near constant crying, wouldn’t you know it, there were still waves of tears to travel down my face.

They ushered us to room 777. We managed to share a smile knowing that 7 is the number for God signifying completion, perfection, and rest.

“Mommy loves you,” I told her as I stroked her hair. “We will spend eternity together. We will have so much catching up to do.” Luca’s tiny mouth fell open as if she wanted to speak. There were no muscles to keep it closed. “You know, sweet girl, when I think about it, you spent your entire existence in the warmth of your mommy’s belly. Not everyone gets to do that, you know.”

I looked up. “Lord, I trust You now more than ever. This is Your will.” Again they did not feel like my words. Something was going on, something was happening to me. God wasn’t breaking into the moment. He was the moment.

Three days later, through the generosity of our Rock family, we were on a boat traveling out to sea with an urn of Luca’s ashes. A nearby ship gave Luca a cannon salute. Pastor Ricky led us in a ceremony to say goodbye. When it was time, we spread Luca’s ashes over the water where they glistened brightly in the sun, like gold leaf everywhere. Bringer of light, I thought. That’s our girl.

In the weeks that followed, there were no shortages of God’s mercies. Friends stayed and people prayed and meals were delivered. We were broken-hearted yet lifted higher than ever before. The Rock’s Safe in Heaven Ministry was an extraordinary comfort as they offered the kinds of words that can only come from those who have been there.

The crib sat untouched in Luca’s room until it was time to address it. I sat on the couch and prayed for Chris as he tearfully dismantled it. And that is when the voice spoke again.

“Don’t worry,” God said. “You’re going to have a son, and you’ll name him Luke.”

My eyes popped open. “Luke?” I whispered to myself.

A few moments later, Chris walked out puffy eyed, but peaceful, and looked at me. “You won’t believe it, but God just said to me, ‘You’ll rebuild this crib for a son named Luke.’”

-----

One year to the day after the birth of Luca, Luke was born. We took him to the ocean and told him about his beautiful sister. Hopefully he’ll understand one day that his life is a testimony to God’s graciousness.

Today, whenever I see the ocean, I think of my baby girl and the light she still brings. She’s out there, somewhere—dazzling gold leaf reflecting the light of God.

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