I had a friend about 37 years ago. She was a new friend, but we got along famously. She had come into my life through a relationship with a close relative and made a tremendous difference in his life, in his temperament and in his character. Who knew a woman could have such an effect on a man? I could never have imagined if I hadn’t seen it for myself.
Anyway, she was one of those people who exuded joy. She enjoyed her job. She liked being around people. She loved a good joke and loved to laugh. It was an infectious laugh that made you want the good jokes to keep coming so she could keep laughing.
And the one thing she wanted more than life was to have a baby. It was the one thing she’d always wanted, the one thing that would complete her world; especially now that she’d found love.
So imagine her ecstasy when she found out she was indeed pregnant. She wasn’t a real young woman so there were some concerns. She was a voluptuous African-American woman so there was the silent killer, high blood pressure. The things docs tell us about that we usually ignore. And she was so happy that she couldn’t be discouraged. Anyway the baby was already soundly in place and all was good.
Very near what should have been the end of her pregnancy, she changed medical coverage which demanded the change of obstetricians. So when she visited the new doc who discovered she was actually past her due date…discovered her baby was quite large (she was also diabetic) …and that the reason she hadn’t delivered was because the former doc had packed her womb to prevent early labor. Somehow all this pertinent information hadn’t been transmitted in a timely fashion.
The solution was simple. She was to have a cesarean section to deliver her baby that same evening. The same day. It was a Monday evening and we talked on the phone before she would go to the hospital and I would go to bible study at the church. She was ironing clothes, I don’t know why, and packing her bag for the hospital. All the while we were chatting and laughing and she was planning for the baby she couldn’t wait to see. The baby she couldn’t wait to take into her arms and finally embrace with all the love she’d been storing all the preceding years. She hustled around the house – no cell phones then so she must have had a long phone cord – and I bubbled along with her, sharing her anticipation and expectation.
So we finally said our “see you laters” and I went off to church. She, off to the hospital to deliver her baby.
And when I returned home, I was blasted with the news that indeed the baby girl had arrived, but in the process her mother, who’d waited her entire life for this tiny package, had exchanged places with her in heaven. First I was in shock. Certainly I was getting misinformation from my loving husband. It could not possibly be that since I’d hung up the phone and gone to church…in the short time I’d been gone…my new friend had died.
And then I was furious with God and had no qualms about telling him. I even declared this was the one thing I would demand an answer about before I rejoiced about being in heaven.
How could he have allowed such a thing? How could my friend have missed a chance to see and hold and love her baby? The one she’d longed for most of her life? How could the baby miss out on all that love? All that love? All that love that had been waiting for her? How could she? How could He? Why? What on earth could be the possible reason and rationale for such a thing?
I was heart broken. It seemed so intentional, not at all random. So pointed, but what was the point? And after 37 years the pain is not nearly as poignant, but I still have no answers. What I do know is that God knows what I don’t and I trust him implicitly. But I still remember the pain. And I’m always delighted when I’m in the company of the young lady who never met her mother, but somehow embodies the same power, the same love, the same joy and is having a tremendous impact on the world in her own right.