Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Butterfly Effect

There is a part of me that never forgets this day of the year and always dreads it. A part of me that would rather it didn't sit there on the calendar, waiting, reminding. And yet this morning it was only as an afterthought I realized that the time during which I made breakfast and ate it with my family was the same time of day my eldest daughter died three years ago.

Oh such great significance her life and death that it's only as an afterthought I think of those final moments, right?

Oddly enough this is a thought that's been niggling at me for a while. How does Keren's life and death play out in the grand scheme of things?

Clarification: I have no doubt that her existence was fully planned and intended by God. I also have no question that she was a gift to us, and not only us, but many around us. Her life shaped Kraig and me in ways we never expected, and God grew us in ways I would never exchange. I know, too, that her death was in God's hand, and it happened exactly when it was supposed to. I was reminded of this twice this past week with Jesus' words in Revelation 1:16, "'I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.'" Death has no power without Christ's permission. All these are truths I know, and I rejoice in them.

And yet, six-and-a-half years of life. What are those in the vast timeline of mankind? I've almost hit forty, my grandmother is 93 and I've got a great-aunt who's a cracking 97. And yet even our lives are so short on the line. So 6 1/2 years? What is that?

 I suppose if I sat down and started listing things out I would see how much her short life has changed mine and my family's. I would see the myriad ways God has taught me more about unconditional love, the value of all lives no matter how fragile, His sovereignty and centrality of every part of my life. I know these are effects of having known Keren. But on the other hand, nothing huge has shifted. While she lived, Kraig and my world included multiple doctors, therapists, special education teachers, fellow parents. In the three years since then our tie to this world has grown thin. We still know some and stay connected in a way, but that is no longer our world. I regret that at times, but at the same time, I don't feel that God is calling us to try to keep close to this world. We will never forget it, and we value it much more than we ever could have without Keren, but it is not our world now. I don't know exactly where and what He is taking us into, but at the moment, I know it's not back into that world. Does that lessen the significance of Keren's life? Obviously no, but I can't see the big picture and so I wonder.

I suppose that one thing I have realized through Keren's brief life is how important every life is, no matter how short. Every life impacts another...and another...and so on. The ripples continue. My grandmother, for instance, has six sons, fourteen grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren who have watched her for years and have been blessed by her humble, godly spirit. That doesn't even begin to touch the hundreds of other lives she has touched. On the other hand, a life snuffed out deliberately, even before birth, affects others by its very absence. I've read some interesting discussions recently as to how the world would be different if Steve Jobs' biological mother had aborted him. Makes one think! The two miscarriages Kraig and I had before Keren deeply affected us. For one, if either had continued full-term, Keren would not have been conceived. For another, the very loss of them vastly changed our perspective on Keren's life when we knew prenatally she might have Trisomy 18. We knew we wanted her, longed for her, no matter what. We wanted her to live! And she did, longer than we had dared to hope. And the lives she touched go on to touch other lives, and so on. The individual timeline might be brief, but each life impacts a life.

A butterfly flaps its wings, clouds collide, tempests rage, floods rise, rainbows of promise appear.
"How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures." ~Psalm 104:24
I just wish I could see it all from God's perspective. But as I am not able to, I will continue to live here through the storms and floods and wait in confidence for His rainbows.


  1. You might find it interesting to know that Rick Santorum's youngest child is a Trisomy 18 child. He left the campaign on Sat, Jan 28 to be with her in Philadelphia's CHOP. She is 3 years old.

    You know what all of that means! I think of 2 Cor 1 and Paul's discussion of why we suffer or have some life experiences.

    1. Thanks for the 2 Corinthians passage, Aunt Sally. I needed that reminder! It's part of the "big picture" thing :) .

      Yes, info on Rick Santorum and his daughter have flooded the Trisomy world :). I think I read an article by him a few years ago (probably about when Bella was born). I've been much impressed. I just checked one of the articles about Bella's hospital visit and it was with a twinge to see it was pneumonia (though she seems to be doing well) which is what Keren died from. I'm so glad the Santorums caught it in time!

  2. Beautiful post. I wish I could subscribe by email, because I never remember to check my google reader. Anyway, loved this post. And I understand the difference in the worlds. I was married to a man who had quadriplegia and for twenty years that was our life. Four and a half years after his death that world seems like it belonged to someone else, almost. It's kind of sad because while you have the disabled one to take care of, you are too tired to do a lot of advocacy or volunteer work, but once you lose the disabled one and have time, you lose the desire. You move on with your life. At least that's how it was for me.

    You moved on to a busy home with more children, so you still don't have time. :)

    And yes, our lives are short. All of them. And yet, even as short as they are, we manage to waste so much time. I do anyway. My worst sin is probably that I don't redeem my time. I let it fly away as if it wasn't precious.

    Love that picture of Keren with God's promise behind her. Lovely.