By Ayla Carey
There are moments of that day that were a blur and some that were not. I was 36 weeks pregnant with our baby girl. I had a seemingly normal pregnancy, but this visit on that January day last year was a bit different. She was small– too small — and an ultrasound revealed she had intrauterine growth restriction. The decision was made that I would be induced and she would come early.
Fear. Anxiety. Worry. All the possible emotions two people could feel, we felt. After birth, it was determined that the cause of her IUGR was likely the cord, which we watched them unravel from around her neck three times. She wasn’t put in our arms, but into someone else’s. After a little while, we were able to hold her. She was perfect and beautiful, and we were even able to take her home.
As days and weeks went on, she did grow. But it wasn’t quickly. And she wasn’t an easy baby. She was hard to soothe, hard to feed, but oh-so-easy to love. And in my heart of hearts, something in me felt I would not get to keep her.
I was right.
Instead of losing her at her unpredicted and scary early birth, we lost her 4 ½ months later on June 11, 2015. That morning, I found my baby girl lifeless, already in the arms of our Lord. My bright, light, perfect world soon turned dull, dark, and destroyed.
I will never forget the ambulance ride, the sirens, the entourage of firetrucks and police cars as we drove to the hospital. I knew our baby was gone, so to me I felt that all of this commotion wasn’t necessary. It only solidified what I already knew: that this was the worst of the worst and every parent’s nightmare. Driving our car away without her was a feeling that cut me to the core. That day, I remember lying on my cold kitchen floor and neighbors who came had to step over my numb body to enter our house. I wished God had taken me too. I was physically ill and emotionally shattered, and I couldn’t imagine how I would live from that moment forward.
Each day after she went to her forever home was a struggle here where she left us. It was hard to get up, hard to go to sleep, even literally hard to breathe. Though the grief for us is still raw and fresh, we learned from the beginning that the darkness that came would not be a place we would want to stay.
She wouldn’t want us to stay there either.
I remember having a meltdown in the Target parking lot. I had left the house to have a change in scenery, to get out, and to be alone. I sat in my car, and screamed, and cried. I yelled at God telling him, “I can’t do this! You are going to have to help me. You need to show up and do something. If you want me to fly, you are going to have to give me feathers.” I wandered in Target, with no mission in mind. And as I turned the corner sobbing, I saw one of my dearest friends and biggest supporters, standing with open arms and a shoulder to cry on. There God was, showing up for me. Blessings like this continued on a day to day basis, and I’ve never felt more loved. I began to not only “welcome” these blessings from above, but to look for them. If I opened my mind, and my broken heart, I would find little pieces along the journey that were helping put the jigsaw back together again. Like little “feathers” helping me learn to fly again.
My God has sent his hope, and his mercies, and his feathers to get us through each day. And though our baby went from our hands to His, and pieces of our broken hearts are there in Heaven, there is still a big part of her here. Though not completely mended, our hearts are healing. Our lives look different, our hearts look different. We see people for more of what their stories may tell. Helping the hurting actually helps us heal. We hold our children longer and each other tighter. In all things, we want to make this life count. Though hurting, we are hopeful. Though broken, we are blessed. Though grieving, we are grateful.
Her name is Ember. I remember deciding on that name. It was perfect. I remember telling her daddy that I loved the idea of raising a “little spark”– A “light burning in the ashes”. I loved that I would get to teach her to love God, love others, and to be a light in dark places.
Ember- “a glowing or burning light in an otherwise dying fire”. Since my Ember is not here, it is left for me to keep the fire burning. Though she died, I must live, and her light will shine through me. It’s left up to me to be a light in dark places. We adopted a verse that is now our life’s mission.
“That is why I remind you to rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning the gracious gift of God, the inner fire that is in you.” 2 Timothy 1:6
For us, it only took a “spark”…
Beauty from ashes. She, my Ember, is my beauty from ashes. I now must live this life to be a light in a darkened world. I vow to keep the love and the light burning, so that a flame can be fanned into a once again burning fire. The fire cannot die, and neither can I. Whether it is in their physical or spiritual forms, I make a point each day to look for feathers. They remind me of a Father who is piecing back together my puzzle. They remind me that He sends me feathers, which joined together make wings– wings that will help me fly again. If I’m flying, I’m not dying. And I won’t just live, I will come alive.
“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ashes.” Elisabeth Elliot
Ayla Carey lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Jamie. She is a registered nurse turned stay-at-home, homeschooling, reading, writing, mending mama of Cayden (6), Kinlee (3), and Ember (eternal). She enjoys music, dancing, and pretending she can sing. You can find her on Facebook. #RemEmber #flyingfeathers #oncomingalive