Earlier this week, heaven gained another tiny angel when baby Ethan quietly passed away. We had learned of him too late….and we were unable to provide him with the emergency care he needed to survive. Such a tiny little baby whose life ended far too quickly.
I can still remember like it was yesterday the very first time I was confronted with the death of a baby. Some of you might remember, from the very first days of LWB. Her name was baby Kui, and she had been born with a fairly simple heart defect, but it had gone untreated for so long that the pressure in the main vessels to her lungs rose to a level that made surgery impossible. We didn’t know it at the time. We fundraised for her surgery, sent her off to a top surgeon with such hope, and then I got a phone call saying that nothing could be done. They were going to discharge her with the knowledge that she would soon pass away. I was stunned….I could hardly comprehend it. Surely there was something that could be done for her. Surely someone had made a mistake. But all the doctors we asked for second opinions gave the same tragic news. We were too late. There was nothing that could be done.
The days following that diagnosis were difficult ones for me emotionally. I had her little photo taped to my computer, and her eyes stared out with such a solemn little expression. I publicly wrote asking the question of whether Kui’s life was important. Why would a baby be born, only to be abandoned, and then pass away as an orphaned child, never knowing what it truly felt like to be loved? Did her life really matter to anyone?
My mailbox was flooded with replies. I received hundreds of notes and cards for Kui, each one with the statement, “I believe Kui is important.” Some had letters, some had pictures drawn by children, others had the most beautiful prayers. I saved every one.
Tonight as I was thinking of baby Ethan, I went to the cabinet drawer and took out Kui’s letters. I read each of them once again, and cried for the newest baby who didn’t get his second chance here on earth. I think the hardest thing for me in knowing that an orphaned child has passed away is that there will be no grave, no marker, no family to lovingly save their photos and memories; nothing to really prove that he or she existed. How quickly they could be forgotten. That is why I treasure Kui’s letters so much. Because they are a permanent reminder that a beautiful little girl once lived in southern China, a little girl who left too soon….but who was most definitely loved and prayed over.
In the last six years, I have learned again and again that many babies are born in this world who are too sick to survive. While it never gets any easier to hear the news, I now know with certainty that every day a child spends on this earth has immeasurable worth. They deserve to be remembered. The fragility of their lives should remind us all how precious each and every day is that we are given. Sweet Ethan….I pray you are now being held in the arms of God. May you finally have the gentle comfort that you deserve, with no more pain…..only peaceful, perfect love. We will never forget that your life was so very important.