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Pt 2: Taken Hostage on Life's Train Through Hell

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

Life as we knew it was gone. Both twins were critical and ended up in two different hospitals. But Ezra was, by far, in the worst condition. The hopes and joys of new parent expectations were stolen away as Ezra went up and down. After a battle with the hospital, the twins were eventually put together. This room became a second home for Amy and Andrew as they did their best to care for their twins.

The nights at home with Samuel and Abigail were often interrupted with calls for them to come back, the doctors fearing Ezra would not live through the night. I began to hate going to bed. Panic attacks began to set in as I feared missing one of those calls from Amy, or worse yet Ezra passing away before they could get to the hospital.

Like Amy and Andrew, the stress of this journey took a toll on me. However, because of the good work ethics instilled during my younger years, I continued to work the best I could while helping to care for Samuel and Abigail. This meant, at times, creating lecture videos for my college classes at midnight in my pajamas while holding sleeping grandchildren. Frankly, I was committed to getting the work done, but I didn’t care by this point about professionalism. The students were getting their education, period. Having very little emotional capacity, I had already backed down to just a couple of counseling/coaching clients as well. I had a greater purpose; I wanted to stand strong for my family and absorb as much of the trauma for them as I could. This is what is called secondary trauma.

Here is where I made a major mistake. Absorbing their trauma was a noble and good thing in helping them. But, my mistake was in thinking that I could not afford the time or emotional energy to face my own trauma while they were still in the middle of theirs. This takes me back to Psalms 23, He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul….your rod and your staff, they comfort me….you anoint my head with oil. Little did I realize that right in the middle of it all was when I needed to face the inability to stop any pain and suffering that was happening, and instead to recognize and allow the Lord to continually minister to my heart. He wanted to help me through the pain.

While my trauma was nothing in comparison to theirs, it was still real. My heart needed to be tended to as well. But, I feared literally falling apart and becoming useless to them. So, I continued on the best I could. I would like to say that I stood strong and courageous. But I didn’t. I was fearful. I was weak. I worried and fretted as I watched my daughter’s heart being repeatedly shattered watching her baby’s life slowly slipping away, realizing her other little one was still not thriving, and losing out on months worth of Samuel and Abigail’s life. I begged the Lord to not let this happen to her. She may have been a grown, married, wonderful woman, but in those moments she was my little girl that I wanted so desperately to protect.

I was also feeling desperately selfish and angry. They were my heritage and blessing as nana, and I wanted to see my twin grandsons grow up. I wanted to have the opportunity that I was being given with the older two; to pray over them, hug them, wipe away their tears, tell them how they each had their own place in Nana's heart that no one or anything else could fill. I wanted to see the wonder in their little eyes as they learned about helping nana in the garden and getting to eat the fruit as quickly as it came off the vine. I wanted all the why questions that you try to answer and they respond with many more why’s. I wanted to hold those babies in my arms so badly and assure them that they were safe.

One day I prayed and wept, “Lord, this nana’s heart longs to set eyes upon her grandbabies. Will you grant me this? My heart needs to see them…especially Ezra.”

My prayer was answered about a week later. Not in the way I, or any of us, had wanted. Ezra was given hours left to live and Amy was to call in a minister of her choice. Because I am a licensed minister, she chose me to come to pray over Ezra. It is difficult to explain the many emotions coursing through my body. What a massive humbling privilege and yet terrifying opportunity I was being given. My heart was so heavy. This was not the way I wanted it. How could I face seeing my grandson for the first and possibly last time all in one visit? How could I face watching Amy and Andrew fall to pieces? I also felt a tremendous anticipation in getting to finally lay eyes on my grandsons. I prayed hard that I would make the most of this visit as well as be the spiritual and emotional strength Amy and Andrew needed.

During my drive to the hospital, I received word that Ezra was going into surgery as a last-ditch effort to save him but he may be gone by the time I got to the hospital. Sheer panic flooded me. Tears flowed. Frantic prayers prayed. I drove as fast as I could getting there, running the entire way through the underground parking lot, getting through the security gates at Children’s Mercy, and into the critical unit. This is the only time I clearly remember praying for my own heart to be able to withstand whatever may be ahead.

And, once again, we praised God as Ezra was stabilized and brought back to his room. Although he was severely swollen, he was the most beautiful baby I think I’ve laid eyes on and he looked identical to his daddy. My heart and eyes feasted on the beauty of this little creation as I studied him from head to toe. As I looked over to the other incubator, little Joseph was awake and watching. Being identical twins, he, too, was absolutely beautiful and looked just like his daddy. I whispered to them how proud Nana was to meet them. I whispered my hopes and dreams for their life; how much they were loved; how much I wanted to hold them; how much we wanted them here on this earth with us. My heart was so full.

As I walked back out of the hospital that day, a sudden panic coursed through me, what if I just saw my grandson for the last time?

And, just like that, 3 days later, at the age of 6 ½ weeks, our little Ezra was gone.

Another call in the middle of the night. “Mom. I need you to come quickly. We need to get to the hospital now.” I put my shoes on and rushed over to the house still in my pajamas. They wearily rushed out as I wearily rushed in. This time was different. I felt it in my soul. Resignation made its presence known. I crawled into their bed, pulling Samuel and Abigail close to me on both sides. This night, I needed them as much as they needed. I held them tightly as the tears fell. I thanked God for the privilege to be nana to these two little ones beside me.

The incoming text message woke me, “There is nothing more the doctors can do. It is only in God’s hands now. If He doesn’t work a miracle, I will be holding my baby soon.” Only the delivery doctor had gotten to hold our little Ezra. I tried to muffle the sobs as I held the little ones close. I must not wake them. Samuel had already woken once crying so hard for his mommy and daddy. I lay there feeling the darkness closing in. The resignation inside was rising. Another part of me screamed to continue to fight on my daughter’s behalf. For Andrew, Ezra, Samuel, and Abigail. “You must be strong. You must continue to fight. You cannot stop now.” But something inside told me we were at the end. I was too weary to do anything more than wait for what was coming.

All these months, we had continually called on all our prayer warriors. And there were lots of them. They were so faithful! But this morning, it came down to just our little family, the six of us, Amy and Andrew at the hospital, Greg and Tiffany in another state, me with the little ones, and Mike at home trying to keep up with work there. We hunkered down sending each other the simple message - l love you.

Another text message, “I’m going to get to hold my baby soon.”

A person doesn’t realize how deafening the silence can be. It’s like holding your breath so long that your mind begins to scream, you are going to die! But you don’t actually die. Instead, the silence holds on…and on…and on. You must agonizingly live through it. More hours pass. Three. Four. Continued silence. The incoming text startles your entire system. You’ve been waiting for it. But now that it is here, can you bear to read it?

“We are on our way home.”

My mind wanted to tell me that the unspoken words meant there was still a possibility of another miracle. But I knew from what I had experienced when my mom died suddenly years ago. Though my brother was the one to tell me of her death, my mind protested. The police don’t know my mom. They made a mistake. She isn’t really dead. But this is how we survive the moment when we have been so deeply traumatized. The Lord created our minds and bodies to help us survive that in-the-moment trauma that we can not bear to face.

I paced the floors, coming back to stare out the front window for their vehicle. As it pulled into the driveway, I hesitated. What should I do? Do I go out and meet them? Do I wait here? I stepped out onto the porch and hesitated again. It was then that I heard the sobs of sheer raw pain. Why God, why? I rushed out to hold Andrew through the window as he cried. I tried to reach for Amy, but she jumped out and ran away sobbing, “Don’t touch me!”

God, I was angry!! So angry!! Not at her. This was my baby. I knew she was in so much pain that she couldn’t handle being touched or comforted. Why, God, would you do this to her? Why would you take her child away from her? I feared the pain would swallow her up. I feared losing my daughter as well as little Ezra. Many times, when my children were young, I feared losing one of them to death. Panic would rise up in the night. But I could always pray and feel the Lord’s reassuring comfort of watching over my children. But this? My daughter was in the living hell that I had only feared. What if her shattered heart couldn’t recover?

That day was June 9th, our future daughter-in-law, Tiffany’s, birthday; 2 days before Amy’s birthday. It’s been proven that trauma rears its ugly head by making annual visits to wreak havoc on those anniversaries. I wonder if we'll ever be able to celebrate these birthdays without the overwhelming pain of tragedy and loss of our little Ezra.

Ezra was now in heaven, completely healed and being held by his heavenly father and creator, God. We, on the other hand, were shattered and lost. Complete darkness had descended. The many questions and doubts that come with such a great loss as this. The excitement and joy of what was to come snatched away in a moment with no ability for it to be restored. Where was God? Why did He choose to take Ezra home to be with him rather than allow us to have him? Why does scripture say to pray with faith and then allow an outcome like this? On and on, the accuser of my soul demanded answers that would not satisfy or heal our broken hearts.

Now, I hope you aren’t wondering why I still put my faith and trust in the Lord after what happened. It is interesting how differently people respond to you in tragic times like this. Some friends reached out repeatedly to offer their sympathy. Others were completely silent. Still others used this for their case against Christ.

Sometimes the most difficult responses came from people who genuinely care; those who wanted to defend God when I was honest about feeling angry. The response was “But God is still good. He is still loving.” Somehow, this dear person had the idea that my anger meant that I believed He wasn’t good or loving. Well, from a human standpoint, allowing our grandbaby to die and my daughter to be shattered in a million pieces doesn’t feel too loving. But I knew from scripture and from personal experience that we cannot expect God to take away all pain and suffering. Instead, in these tragic times Jesus wants to be with us and helps us overcome the pain. I also knew that our Ezra was completely healed, free of pain, and would never have to spend another moment in a hospital incubator. So, does me being angry over the loss of my grandchild mean that I’m saying God is not good?

In any healthy relationship, there must be a place to say that you don’t like what has happened and you feel angry. I would not be human if I didn’t feel anger as a part of my grief. And, my God’s shoulders are big enough to handle my anger. In the end, I know that it is uncharacteristic of the Lord to allow my loved one to pass after pouring out so much prayer. It’s just that the loss hits our hearts so hard when we can’t see the greater picture beyond this life.

I once told the Lord that I would give up position, status, pay, whatever He wanted to take from me in exchange for letting Ezra live. Not just for Ezra’s sake, but also for my daughter’s family’s sake. Obviously, the Lord didn’t take me up on that. But the point is that I have walked with the Lord long enough to know that his heart is not cold and callused. We usually can’t see beyond our loss to realize that there is a greater picture and purpose at work. Some things will hurt tremendously. We will suffer. We have never been guaranteed a pain-free life as Christians. But, He does promise to be with us and carry us through it.

I can hear the protests now that if He loved us, he would protect us and our loved ones. Well, friends, I’ve been here many times myself. I agree…at least from the human perspective. But, I’ve also discovered that if we are not careful, we will miss the heavenly perspective. This is the one that offers us a guarantee of eternal life where there is no more death or pain and suffering if we choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Every time I have cried and raged to the Lord about the many things in my heart for Ezra, He whispers to me, “Talk to your grandbaby. He sees you. He hears you. Pour out your heart to him always until you once again get to lay eyes upon him.”

I also know that the Lord does not waste our pain and suffering. I know this truth from many places of personal experience as well as the scriptures. He desires to bring good out of it. This is redemption. The Lord once told me years ago, “There is nothing that has been done to you or you have done to yourself that I cannot bring healing and good out of it …IF you will let me in the pain with you.” In the end, my suffering has continued to lessen as I’ve continually recommitted my heart to him and to ask him to do what only he can do in it.

On the day of Ezra’s death, I laid down my teaching. I was broken to the core. I could take no more. It was a relief to just feel numb. The reality was too painful. When I did feel something, it was usually rage at seeing my daughter’s heart nearly destroyed. And there was nothing I could do to ease her pain. There was nothing I could do to emotionally be there for her…to be strong for her…to offer her hope. I had to continually surrender her, Andrew, and their children to the Lord. I had to surrender my own heart of pain to the Lord.

Unfortunately, the train continued to travel deeper through this hell. We thought we had reached a stopping point to take little Joseph and get off. But we were wrong. We were still being held hostage.

…the final chapter to be continued next Monday.

If you are struggling, please feel free to reach out.


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