On that bright day in June, my sweet Rebecca said over and over, “I just can’t believe this is happening.” Rebecca’s childhood nickname was Joy for her contagious laugh, and on June 13, 2008, Rebecca and Jake experienced much joy bringing their firstborn into the world.
But those great expectations, high hopes and happiness at the moment of her birth turned quickly to pain, grief, and disbelief.
Molly entered our world as a full-term, perfectly-formed, 7-pound baby. But within minutes in Rebecca’s arms, she showed signs of heart failure. Hours later, she was air lifted to Denver Children’s Hospital, leaving behind her exhausted, heart broken mom and dad who had been awake all night laboring to bring her into the world. Shocked and bewildered aren’t strong enough words to describe the blur of emotions they felt.
At 10 p.m. Dennis and I arrived to find Rebecca trying to pump: her breasts aching for her babe, her eyes red from crying most of the day, her heart broken with the steady stream of confusing bad news delivered in doctor-speak.
My heart longed to scoop up my baby girl in my arms, grab her blankie, and literally fly away with her from this black hole of despair and pain. I could hardly bear to watch her suffer. David wrote these words for me, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Psalm 55:6).
But my desire to rescue my Rebecca girl from this valley of the shadow of death, and the desperate prayers of thousands of friends around the world, could not change the truth that Molly was unable to live on her own. Together these two young parents made the most difficult decision possible, not to fight to extend her life but to let God take her Home.
Molly lived for seven days and what a treasure that week was for her parents, both sets of grandparents, and siblings who all flew in from around the country to meet Molly. We celebrated her first bath, put bows in her hair amidst the wires, got hand and foot prints inked on papers and on pages in our Bibles, and took hundreds and hundreds of photos. We all experienced the nearness of our God in an almost tangible way as never before.
One of our most cherished moments was on her last day of life, the day Rebecca and Jake had decided to take her off life support. They chose to let all four of us grandparents have a few minutes to hold Molly for our first and last time. Just typing these words takes me back to that moment and tears are filling my eyes.
I was first, followed by Jake’s parents Pam and then Bill. Dennis was last. As he cradled Molly gently in his arms Jake said, “Tell her a Speck story, Papa.” He had heard about these infamous stories from Rebecca. For all our kids growing up years, Dennis told them Speck stories, made-up adventures of tiny almost microscopic people. The story always ended with, “And you’ll have to wait until tomorrow night to hear the rest of the story.”
Dennis began his story for Molly.
“Once there was a Speck Papa and a Speck Granddaughter who went fishing one day together. They caught their tiny Speck fish and were going to eat their fish when they encountered something you will never believe … and you’ll have to wait … (he was crying and could hardly talk) until I join you… in Heaven … (everyone was sobbing now) to hear the rest of the story.”
Even the nurses cried through the short story, but one person didn’t. Rebecca was beaming with joy that her daddy was telling her baby girl a Speck story. Then she and Jake started laughing at the way Dennis blubbered the last line of the story and soon everyone was laughing uncontrollably together.
Suddenly Dennis looked up at Molly’s monitors, afraid his shaking with laughter was possibly stressing her system. Instead she was responding. Her oxygen rate, which hadn’t been above 80 all day, was now at 90! Still giggling the six of us turned our eyes to the monitor and watched the numbers climb to 92, then 93, 94, 95, then she it 98, 99 and for a brief second 100! We all cheered and clapped at the victory! The nurse said she’d never seen anything like it.
As Molly’s numbers started to fall and our laughter subsided, Rebecca said, “I think God was showing us He could heal her if He wanted to. But it was not His purpose for her or for us.”
Today is Molly’s 10th birthday. It’s hard to believe. Sometimes it even seems this week never happened. But it did and our lives continue to be forever changed by little Miss Molly Ann. Rebecca wrote a lot in her journal in those days after Molly went Home and I did too. Together she and I wrote a book about Molly’s story called A Symphony in the Dark, which was published on her first birthday.
Because this is a milestone birthday we are going to have a big party for her on Saturday to remember her life and all the wonders God did that week. We have much to celebrate because God is always good. And in His great kindness he has given Rebecca and Jake five more living children; twins Piper and Lily who are eight, Rainey who is five, Zeke who is four, and baby Annie who is 18 months.
Next week we will share a post with more about Molly’s homegoing on Tuesday June 19 and the joys that await all of us one day in Heaven. More photos of that day, quotes from Rebecca’s journal and mine, the truth that sustained us all, plus an amazing story of a little girl who knows what happens when babies and children die. You won’t want to miss it.