I picked up my phone to see it was 5 a.m., I rolled over to realize she wasn’t in the bed with me. It was mid June and when we arrived at our hotel in Indiana, it was booked full for the night. And of course, the air conditioner didn’t work, so a big commercial fan hummed me back to sleep. She’s a grown woman and I figured she had just gotten up to go to the bathroom. In the bed beside me was my other friend, Savannah. She was out, along with her sweet, round faced 9 month old next to her.
Next thing I knew it was 7 and my alarm was singing. She still wasn’t there. Maybe she had went to breakfast? I wasn’t sure, I just knew I had better get into the shower before everyone needed to crash the bathroom. She walked through the door as I rounded the corner with clothes in my hand. “Where have you been?”, I whispered. Her voice cracked, “I’m hurting so bad. I went to get some Tylenol, I’m bleeding,” My stomach hit the floor.
The night before, we had laughed our way from Clarksville to Terre Haute. I had the pedal to the floor while non stop baby talk surrounded me. They were both pregnant. Due the same week. They were planning out what their lives would look like with two more babies in our world. I chuckled about how I was going to deal with both of them being pregnant. “How about you both go into labor at the same time and I’ll just hustle back and forth?” We knew it wouldn’t take Savannah very long. Last September we had arrived at the hospital and Emersyn, her number 4, made her debut in less than 5 minutes. Lexi had a long labor 8 years earlier with her only son, Hunter, so I concluded I would be there for Savannah to sneeze and then wait as patiently as I could on little Crabtree. Sounded like a good plan to me! But my plans were just words uttered into the dark Indiana night.
Rewind several weeks where I was pushing a wheelbarrow, divvying out feed to 27 beasts, and listening to bicycles squeak by on the other side of the barn where 8 little feet pedaled up and down the hill. Once the last pellet was finished, plans were to head over to her house. We don’t go very long without seeing each other, it’s turned into the norm. Then I heard the gravel crunching under her tires as she pulled up. I figured she was coming to watch her boy ride his bike by himself for the first time. I was wrong. She rounded the aisle way with Savannah on her side. Beaming. Unrolled a paper towel and there it was, the + sign. I squealed, throwing my arms around her neck. It would’ve only taken me an hour to finish feeding and drive around the corner to her house. That hour couldn’t wait. Because she had waited. For years. And two miscarriages. I pushed the wheelbarrow back to the tack room, then with mine and Savannah’s hand on her shoulder, I prayed. Praising the Lord for answering these prayers, and that this little one walk in His ways. Can’t we just stay and dance on this mountain top?
We couldn’t. Indiana is flat.
We had made the trip to huddle in the basement of a cute little Methodist church and break open some bread. I would speak. She would sing. We would laugh and it would be another fun memory we would look back on and talk about when were gray. Well…more gray.
I tried to not say too much, not go without saying anything, and piece together the broken words floating around my heart. “Hey, we aren’t thinking like that. We don’t know exactly what’s happening here.” (She’s used to my bossiness.) On the inside I was pleading…Jesus, You just met me flat on the cold tile in my bathroom floor over this the other night. You heard my praise. You also heard my fear. Who needs a third miscarriage? Who needs the first?
We moved along to breakfast, then on to the church. Their nursery was painted with rainbows, clouds, happy little animals, an Ark floating in the calm. Not exactly the storm clouds rolling around us. I slipped in and sat down at the itty bitty table, with the even smaller chairs. (I mean, who doesn’t need another reminder of how big their butt is these days.) With Savannah and Emmy playing in the floor, I reviewed my notes, and she went to check sound.
As the morning grew, so did the bleeding. She knew. I looked at Savannah without a word. We knew.
With smiles on our faces, we said hello to the ladies as they made their way. Not long after, my friend stood and she sang these words…
I’ve been looking til my eyes are tired of looking. Listening til my ears are numb from listening. Praying til my knees are sore from kneeling on the bedroom floor. I know that You know my heart is aching. I’m running out of tears and my will is breaking. I don’t think I can carry the burden of it anymore. All my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans are slowly slipping through my folded hands. So I’m gonna lay it down, I’m gonna learn to trust you now. What else can I do? Everything depends on You. And if the sun doesn’t come back up, I know Your love will be enough. I’m gonna let it be, I’m gonna let it go, I’m gonna lay it down. (Lay it Down, Jaci Velasquez)
And as those words lifted into the air, her baby made way into His presence. I shoved the lump that had been stuck in my throat back down…for the thousandth time that day. And I watched as my friend raised her shaky hands to still praise Him. I listened to her voice break and her catch it again. I sat there knowing that the One who is enthroned on our praises was there. He didn’t miss a tear, He didn’t miss a beat, He would never miss a breath.
I can’t tie this up with a pretty little bow. I can’t tell you why. I have more questions than I have answers. I can’t act like there won’t be a day where I don’t go drag her out of bed. Or that you just walk away from this and live happily ever after. I don’t know if there will be a #4, or 5, or 6.
What I do know is that the water was overflowing at it’s banks that day in Indiana. His presence stepped forth, and there it laid. The stone. It was a heavy one. And she picked it up, carried it to Gilgal, and sat it down (Joshua 4:6-7). We will look back one day. Maybe we will be more gray. Wiser. But we will remember. And when #1 asks, “Mama, what do these stones mean?” She will say, “Baby, they remind me of when the Lord went out before me, hemmed me in, and carried me in the midst.” And in that moment, He will still not miss a tear, not miss a beat, never miss a breath.