Saturday, September 11, 2010


Mills passed away on a Saturday. It was pouring down rain all day. Storming and flooding so severe interstates were closing. Roddy and I were staying in a hotel right next to Vanderbilt's Children's Hospital. We got a phone call from Mills nurse that morning around 6, telling us Mills wasn't doing well and she didn't think he would make it through that day. After meeting with the doctors at Vanderbilt, when we first arrived there, We were explained to very compassionately that we had a matter of days with our son. We had been there several days straight just holding him. So, although this phone call came at no surprise, the pain that we felt in that moment is indescribable. We knew the outcome, but I just kept pleading with God to change His mind. Maybe this was just a lesson God was teaching me and it was now over, and we could just go back to our happy ending. That this nightmare of pain might somehow come to an end. That Mills would have a chance to just come home with us. I know God carried me through those days, because there is no way I could have put one foot in front of the other. I was on auto-pilot, and while I was suffocating in pain, I also felt nothing at the same time. We made our way to the hospital to hold our sweet baby for the last hours of his life. I didn't want to get out of the car, I wanted to hold him, but I didn't want to let him go. Roddy and I sat in the parking deck before we went in and just prayed, crying out for strength for this day and that He would show up in our family. And He did. In the most painful day of our life, He indescribably did.
They let us take our tiny 2 lb baby to a family room at the corner of the hospital, that was all windows. We stayed in that quiet, peaceful room for hours, watching through our own sobs, as God's own tears streamed down the huge windows that encompassed the room. Praying, struggling for answers, and overwhelmed with grief. Part of me just wanted to run as fast as I could and not face it. Not to face the pain of knowing the inevitable, that we could do absolutely nothing about. The more I truly thought about what I was actually experiencing, the more I felt I couldn't handle this. It was just too much. As much as I never wanted to let him go, holding him for what I knew was the last time, was tremendously painful. Somehow, God's grace gave me the ability to not think past the moment and try to cherish every second I had with him.

Earlier in the week, I had sent Roddy to lifeway to buy some "Praise Baby" CD's because I wanted to rock Mills to this same sweet music I had rocked both Tate and Jon Walt to. The music they still fall asleep to every night, tucked so safe and secure in their little beds. I wanted that for Mills so bad. To be able to feel that security as a child, that his mom and dad could rock him and lay him in his crib as we watched him sleep. But with Mills, this is the closest I would have to that. To hold him as he peacefully entered the glorious gates of heaven, with lullabies that couldn't hold a candle to our Praise Baby. Oh, and I am sure they are amazing! To be rocked and held by a Heavenly Father that's love that is inseparable. It was a privilege I had been given, but in my anguish, I didn't see it that way at all. I wanted him here to listen to OUR lullabies, and it hurt so bad. His life wasn’t supposed to end like this.
My mom, sister and brother n law made their way through the storms to be with us on that day. My Dad was in Uganda and Roddy's parents had been able to be there the day before. And it was as if God had planned the entire day. Set it up just the way He wanted it. They arrived in time to hold him, love him, and have incredible spirit- filled prayer time with him and our family. I don't think anyone there that day can put into words the presence of the Lord that was in that room. Looking back, it gives me chills to think of how ever present we literally felt Him there and throughout that time. He wrapped His arms around all of us and gave us a peace that defies all human comprehension. In the midst of our tremendous grief, this All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Creator was there with us and it humbled us to the core. He made Himself present in our small, insignificant lives. And because of this, none of us in the room that day will ever be the same.

The bible says Jesus was a man that knew what is was like to be overcome with sorrow. In the night before He was arrested, He said "My soul is overcome with sorrow to the point of death."(Mark 14:34) Um, Right there with you, Jesus! Couldn't have said it better myself! It does bring relief to know that Jesus understands what its like to have sorrow pressing the life out of you. He understands the lump in our throat and the heaviness in our chest, and the sickness in the pit of our stomach. He understands it because He has been there himself. It's uniquely through our own sorrows that we can draw close to the Man of Sorrows. He wept with us and held us up for days to come. And is still holding us up.

I share a few small portions of this very intimate day so people will get a small glimpse the mercy and grace that were extended to us in the darkest of our hours. We cried out to Him, and He was there. Everyone who walks with Him has access to this same grace and mercy in which we were shown. You just have to ask. He will not disappoint. He doesn't let go and He IS real. Isn't it comforting to know He extends this grace to His children in the exact moments we need it?
I have had to walk away from this post about ten times before I finished it. The frustration and tears just kept coming. People see me and say "You are so strong!" and the truth is some days I am barely hanging on! But the beauty is I am still hanging! No one can prepare themselves to walk into a room filled with tiny caskets and make a choice of the one you want your child to lie in. No one ever imagines seven years to the date of your wedding, you would be walking around a cemetery picking the perfect place to bury your son, and one day, yourselves. No one can imagine making it through it, because you can’t. He gives us this grace just as we need it and wraps us in His arms in an incredible way in the most perfect timing.

True faith isn’t pretty when you are living amidst it, in fact it as messy as it gets! Its questioning when you feel let down, praising when you are hard-pressed from every side, and loving when you don't really feel like it! I really hesitate to write these truest of thoughts. That people might think I should move on, or get over it. I won’t ever get over it. I will get through it, not over it. I don't think God wants me to get over it, He wants to lead me through it, holding my hand each step. Because, there is part of me that is forever changed and different because I buried my baby at 6 weeks old. God changed our hearts and lives through Mills Thomas. This is part of our story, that we hope to somehow use it for Him, and we are richly blessed in more ways than we can even describe.

I love the song “Held” by Natalie Grant. The chorus says,

This is what it means to be Held,
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was when everything fell
We'd be Held

And we ARE held! I will be the first to say that trusting Him doesn’t take the pain away. It hurts tremendously. We don't have to pretend we are perfect and that everything is ok all the time, because it's NOT! Yet, we serve a mighty God that restores, heals and makes all things new! When we face these days of immense pain and sorrow, He gives us the grace we need in the exact moment we need it and carries us through. As believers, we have the gift of everlasting HOPE. This is the promise we can believe in and hold onto! Mills is being "Held" today by the same Savior that's holding us up daily! And that, my friends, gives me PEACE amidst a broken heart.

"In the day that I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul” Psalms 138:3

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post... Thanks for sharing. What an honor it was to be apart of that! love you!