The Darkest Night: Afton’s Story, Part Nine
This post is part of a ten-post series I’m sharing about the life and loss of our son, Afton. Click here to read more of Afton’s story.
It’s been almost one month, and time has softened the grief only to unleash a storm of questions. I try to sit with them, to work through them, but the most cruel one lingers: why couldn’t my body hold onto my baby?
A few nights ago, I couldn’t sleep. I laid on the couch by myself, in the dark except for a box of Kleenex, and I thought back to seeing Afton for the last time on the ultrasound just before he was born. It was the exact definition of bittersweet: watching his lively feet kick right down through my dilated cervix, showing us that he was happy and healthy, but that he needed to come out before it was time. It was the last time I saw or felt him move.
Over and over I thought about it – he was perfect, but I was flawed. How could my body not know how to do this natural, life-giving thing for him? I cried hard that night as I sat alone in the dark. Why? WHY? He was beautifully and intricately formed, more than any living thing I’d ever seen. He was loved so fiercely.
And then, without missing a beat, I heard – You are, too.
Or maybe more like felt it, right there in the intense darkness. Lindsay: you are, too. You are beautifully and intricately formed, and you are loved so fiercely.
I’m always a little wary of people who say “God spoke to me,” so I won’t make that assertion when I can’t say for sure. But what came into my mind in that moment, and what I know deep-down is true, and how God loves us… they all match. I’m keeping it. The reason I think this story is worth sharing is because I think this place of self-doubt is more universal than it is personal. And that you-are-too message? That feeling? I want you to keep it, too.
I am convinced that God looks at me the way I look at Afton, except better: as perfectly made, beautiful, and so loved. I am also convinced that Afton’s loss is a tragedy that happened in my body. To be honest, I don’t necessarily believe there’s a reason for it, that God wanted it, willed it, or planned it, or that “my body failed me.” My body grew a beautiful baby and tragedy took him away.
What I know of God is that he is life and love, and he is with us in the dark night of tragedy, and that he made us beautifully the same way he made Afton beautifully. And he is weeping with us – all of us – for tragedy and loss of life.
I know that I’m not the only one with a broken heart these days. So many of you have sent messages and emails, and whether your story is the same or something completely different, I think this truth still applies. I’m including this as a part of Afton’s story to remind myself – and us – that just as beautiful and perfect and loved as our sweet Afton was?
You are, too.