Today I read through it after seeing the little note I leave myself on my calendar each year: a heart surrounding the word, Hope. This is the first time I've shed tears for that lost baby in as long as I can remember.
Some of my readers understand this part of the healing process. For others, the pain is still very raw and very real. This story has given many, many readers comfort over the nine years that it has sat here on my blog. I hope it gives you comfort today.
Hope sits still and serene at the edge of a melodious river, dangling one bare foot into the warm, blue water. Her lovely blonde ringlets reflect the light of the afternoon sun and form a shimmering halo around her young head. Though she can’t help but raise her eyes every so often to the far-off hills, He has told her to wait patiently and so she will. “I’ve got a surprise for you,” He’d promised. If she has learned anything from past experience, she’s learned that time is relative no matter where one is. Even in this youthful body, she knows that the time it takes to endure is well worth the rewards that fortitude brings.
Since patience seems to be coming much more easily than normal this day, she begins to take inventory of her new appearance. Strangely, she can not see her reflection in the water in front of her. From the moment she arrived here in this glorious place, she’s wondered about herself. There isn’t much she can learn about what’s inside; about her dreams, wishes and longings. She’s treasured all of these, along with many thoughts and questions, since the day she was conceived. It’s her outside that is so new and clean and unfamiliar.
With a little shake of her head, she can see that her hair is golden and beautiful. She reaches for a curl and lets the silky strand slide around her fingers and over the back of her hand. As she moves to examine the hand more closely, she spies a simple white butterfly hovering near her knee. She watches with innocent interest for just a moment before it flutters over to a nearby snapdragon and gracefully lands beside it in the grass.
Lifting the small, delicate hand up to eye-level seems so simple now and she marvels at the lightness of it; both in skin tone and in weight. Turning this hand right-side up, she examines the lines upon her tiny palm. Amazing, she thinks, and so real.
Her eyes follow the motion as she slowly places the hand back in her lap. Fixing her gaze on the arm for just a moment, she changes her mind about resting it and, using her newly-nimbled fingers, explores the length of the opposite arm. Leisurely, she runs her fingers up and back down. Tickles, she says to herself, as even now the new word tickles her tongue.
A slippery smoothness is caressing the bottom of her one wet foot. Her brown eyes settle on a long and shiny creature gliding through the water. Father loves fish, she thinks to herself. But just as quick as it caught her attention, the creature is gone and her mind becomes occupied elsewhere.
“She’s here,” the butterfly whispers up to the snapdragon. The flower shivers with a sudden air of excitement and replies, “So soon? I didn’t realize we’d get to see her so perfectly formed so early!” The butterfly sighs. “Yes, she’s a beauty, isn’t she? She’s just the image of perfection!” She flurries up to give the snapdragon a butterfly kiss and then takes off back into the sky in search of a honeysuckle treat.
The snapdragon proudly pulls herself up to her full height--six inches at last measurement. As she stretches her lush leaves against the warm sun’s rays, a tiny yawn escapes from her delicate, pink lips. Lifting her head to peer over the sleeping marigolds, she stands upon the tips of her toes (which are firmly rooted in the ground, of course) and sees, just over the nearest hillside, exactly what she is looking for.
“Come children, come quickly”, the Man says as he ascends the last mound of lush, emerald hilltop. He takes care not to hurry the young family, most of them less than five years old. The Man turns to face this great group of children, His very presence commanding their complete attention. He smiles warmly and lovingly, sits down on a nearby rock and takes a young Asian boy on his lap. “Children”, he says, “I want you to remember back to the first time you realized you were in Hope’s place. Be patient, be kind. Be gentle and show her love. Come. Let’s go down to the river.”
The friendly party makes their way across the honey-scented meadow. “Look”, cries the Man, “there by the water!” He stops the children and they all stand still, amazed at the way the sunlight bounces off her flaxen hair. “She looks like my Angel”, says a little Irish red-headed girl, “only my Angel is a lot bigger than that!”
“Come”, says the Man, “Let’s take some time to offer our welcome wishes to this newest reflection of me. There’s a new child in Heaven today.”