Most people say that all life is precious; but many people don’t really believe it. I was one of those people, until five years ago.
I was always taught that children are a blessing, and, with a family of eleven, my parents certainly believed it. But I wasn’t so sure. Yeah, kids are great, but they are a lot of work. Believe me, I know. As the oldest of nine, I had tons of practice “being mom” and resented it.
It was early spring when my mom came to tell me I had a new sibling on the way. The purple crocuses in our front yard were peeping from beneath of crust of ice, and the cornfields behind our house were a mosaic of muddy cornstalks leftover from last season’s harvest. Everything was hushed and expectant, eagerly awaiting the first hint of spring.
It was Thursday evening. Having finished my homework, I was sitting on my bed, busy writing my pen pal a letter. My mom’s voice interrupted my thoughts—could she speak with me for a second? Of course, I said “yes”; my mom and I are best friends. She plunked down on the side of my bed, a curious smile tugging at the corner of her lips. She had news, that was evident, but what she said didn’t make me happy.
“You’re going to have a new brother or sister,” she whispered, her brown eyes shining softly.
I can’t hide anything from my mom. To her surprise, I began to cry. Then it all came tumbling out: I didn’t want another sibling; more kids were just more work; I knew I was selfish, but I didn’t care; and, especially, I didn’t want another baby!
Dear mom, she was surprised and not a little concerned, but didn’t scold or ridicule me. She just listened; and my heart ached. I knew as well as she did that my attitude stunk. We prayed that night, just the two of us, for Christ to change my heart.
As the weeks passed, my heart did begin to change. In fact, the closer we got to our baby’s December due date, the more excited I became. During the summer months, I proudly announced to all my friends at camp that I was soon going to have eight siblings! Of course, they thought I was crazy—who on earth would want eight siblings—but I didn’t care. They eventually caught on and rejoiced with me.
After three months, my mom let me come to the hospital to see our baby’s ultrasound. On the dark screen, I could plainly see a darling figure with a tiny head, arms, and legs. All of our baby’s organs were now developed; its hair and fingerprints were just forming; its heartbeat could now be heard; and its body, at a mere three inches long, weighed only a few ounces. The wonder of seeing this little person only increased my anticipation.
By the sixth month of my mom’s pregnancy, she had become concerned about our baby. She hadn’t been nearly as ill the first few months as with her previous pregnancies and wasn’t feeling the baby move much. This seemed strange, but the doctors said everything looked great—only a few more months.
One night around the supper table, we discussed names for our baby. A girl’s name was settled: Abby Grace; but what about a boy’s? My dad liked “Joshua”. Yes, “Joshua” had a nice sound, but what for a middle name? I suggested “David”—“Joshua David”. It had a handsome, manly ring to it. It stuck.
By November, autumn’s azure sky turned to early winter’s slate gray; the fields, from their harvest’s golden glory, faded to a drab, frozen brown; but remnants of the sumac’s fire still hid in the hollows of our creek, and the cedars’ green accented the mild landscape. My mom began to prepare for the baby’s arrival. A white cradle and a few felt baby blankets found their way into the nursery. She would wait until two weeks before the due date to unpack any clothes.
Towards the end of November, my parents left for a weekend away. By the time they returned, they were both worried. My mom had not felt the baby move for too long. They were going to the hospital for another ultrasound. The morning of the ultrasound, I walked the three blocks to the office where I worked part-time each week. All morning I prayed, “God, please, let them find a heartbeat.” When I returned home for lunch, I answered a call from the hospital. It was my dad. The sadness in his voice told me all before he related what the doctors had said. The doctors had performed an ultrasound, but it was too late. Our baby was gone. My mom would stay in the hospital overnight for our little one to be born, stillborn.
The next morning, we drove to the hospital to see Mom and Dad. Dad told us all about our baby, a sweet little brother, Joshua David. Though beautiful, Joshua’s spine had not developed correctly, a condition called spina bifida. He had been paralyzed from the waist down, accounting for why he had moved so little during Mom’s pregnancy. He had had dark hair and only weighed 2 ½ pounds.
The following days were a blur, filled with cards, kind visitors, and a deep, hollow sadness in my heart. We held a memorial service for Joshua on a lovely morning following the winter’s first snow. The sun’s rays turned the icy spruces to silver that morning and the snow to a carpet of a sparkling diamonds.
Joshua’s death touched me in a strange way. Without uttering a word, he taught me that every life is created for a purpose. Joshua’s purpose was to teach me that I must not take for granted those God gives to me—because I may not always have them.
Before Joshua came, I took my younger siblings for granted. Now, my attitude is changed, and I love them to death. Yes, they are still lots of work—with endless sticky fingers, runny noses, and spilled milk—but their blessings far out way the troubles they cause. Kisses at bedtime, cards with “I LOVE YOU” scrawled in big crayoned letters, and adoring eyes that follow my every move are treasures I can’t replace.
Because of Joshua, a tiny, handicapped boy whom I never met, I am a better woman. All life is created with a purpose. All life is precious. I know that now.
Jessie Blowers is a young woman passionate about pursuing Christ through her Biblical role. She resides in
, and—when not studying for her Business Administration degree—loves spending time with her family and mentoring younger girls. Lincoln, NE