Willow’s Story

It’s hard losing a child. So small and tiny, then one day they’re gone.

I screamed with joy when I read “pregnant” on that little white stick. I leapt into Dustin’s office and plopped it proudly on his desk. I loved the expression on his face (I didn’t warn him I was going to take the test, so he was completely surprised).

If something exciting is happening in my life, I have a hard time keeping it a secret. We did wait a few weeks though before we shared with friends and family.

I was almost 10 weeks when I went for my first check-up at the local red cross hospital in China. It’s mostly an all-day affair with their system of healthcare. You arrive mid-morning and wait in line hoping to get one of the fixed time-slots. I did end up getting to see the doctor but they mostly just took vitals and asked questions as there were no ultrasound slots left. I was scheduled for the next afternoon and Dustin came along with me. I was expectantly waiting to hear my little baby’s heartbeat. Early on in my pregnancy I sensed strongly that I was carrying a little girl, so I chose some light grey yarn and crocheted a tiny infant hat, weaving some pink/red embroidery thread around the brim.

So there I was reclined on the small narrow bed and craning my head to see the black and white screen. The doctor moved the doppler around and her first words were, “Oh, this isn’t good.” My heart dropped with a thud and I felt numb. Immediately I made up my mind to fend off the tears till I could get home. The doctor continued to explain that although the baby had a heartbeat at one time, it was no longer living and had stopped growing. Oh my sweet baby.

There are moments in life when the world truly seems to just stop spinning. Or perhaps I stop spinning with it and watch it go on around me, feeling disconnected and lost. This was one of those times. I made it home and shut the bedroom door, asking for some time alone. Of course many tears ensued. Some time later I came into the living room and cried some more with Dustin. Everything seemed so dark but in my grief I cried out to the Lord, asking for His comfort and wanting to know what her name was.

And as I slumped on the couch holding cushions in my arms trying to ease the pain in my heart, I saw a picture. A little girl about four or five with brown hair that curled a bit at the ends. She was standing next to a white-robed figure which I knew to be Jesus. She looked up at Him and He looked down at her, and He said, “Do you want to tell her?” She then looked at me and said softly, “He calls me Willow.”

The gravity of that picture–the reality of knowing my sweet little girl was in the presence of the One who loves her best and endlessly, was like hot oil that poured over my grief-stricken heart, coating it in the knowing and safety and hope that Jesus’ presence brings.

I had never considered the name “Willow” before, yet once I heard it I knew it was right and I loved it. As I dwelt on that picture, I sensed there was more to it. I looked up the willow tree to learn about its characteristics. I was stunned.

Wouldn’t you know but that the willow tree is known for its remarkable roots–their size, toughness and tenacity to life. And the real kicker: new plants can take root from broken branches lying on the ground.

And so this is the legacy that my little Willow has left for me. Through my grief my roots have gone deeper; I am challenged to live with tenacity*, allowing my broken heart to sprout new life though it lays upon the ground. Life through death.

So I have two children now. Miles my firstborn and Willow my little girl who is now with Jesus. Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness. And thank You for Your healing balm.

*TENA’CIOUS, a. 1. Holding fast, or inclined to hold fast; inclined to retain what is in possession.

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  • Now I have THREE sweet children; Trace Emery joined our family in March of last year.
  • I cannot fully express or describe the depths to which my roots have grown and the heights to which my heart has soared since writing this post over two years ago; new life has definitely sprouted. Love you, Willow.



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