By Trish Thomas
Our moments have great power and possibility. They can discourage us, destroy us, deliver us, or drive us. My most defining moment yet came twelve weeks ago when an out of control car slammed into my own. In the most desperate moment of my life, I experienced the greatest peace. As I saw the vehicle coming before me, the gentle, warm hands of Jesus came from behind me and covered my eyes. To this day, those moments evade my memory. Once all the dust and air bags had settled, His hands came away. That next moment left me breathless and broken. I was in severe pain and trapped in my destroyed car, alone and in agony. Yet, somehow, this was the most serene time of my life. Unsure of my future and my survival, all I had was God. I pleaded with him to protect and draw near to whoever else was in this accident, to bring someone to help us and to please, please protect the beloved baby in my womb.
I was rushed to hospital. I sustained serious internal abdominal injuries and my strength was quickly dissipating. I was bleeding to death. I begged to know if my baby was still alive. Finally, they showed us. It was a he, tiny and curled up in a ball, obviously so distressed and hurt. I was taken in to surgery immediately. I had a broken collarbone, split abdominal muscles, a severed uterus and a ruptured spleen, which was removed and scars all over my body. I woke up hours later and caught the empty, distant and desperate gaze of my husband. No words were needed. We wept together till the tears no longer fell. Our baby died.
Despite his now lifeless body, this tiny human was truly incredible. Through it all, one thing sustained us–Jesus. No amount of strength or pride or courage could have ever carried us. We were in every way, exhausted. But He was not. He was just beginning to show but a snippet of the beauty our son’s ashes would create.
Even though I could barely move or walk, or at times have the courage to breathe, somehow I needed to birth our son a few days later. I never could have prepared myself for the perfection I would soon see. He was complete, lacking nothing and already holding recognizable traits of his parents and big sister. Watching the nurse take his body away to the morgue was excruciating. Again, we lost him.
Altogether, I spent ten days in hospital. My husband kept our family and friends up to date by Facebook. And remarkably and unexpectedly, something powerful began to rise. A community much bigger than our own stepped up, faithfully praying, generously giving and sharing our story over and over, so much so that it went to other countries. God was encouraging others and showing them his heart and strength in our pain and weakness. We were coming alive.
Though our hearts were broken, our faith was not. We didn’t have a chance. We lost Caiden but got more of God. When your creator intercedes in your greatest fear, gives you the strength to show love and compassion to the person whose actions took your child’s life, and gives you the courage to breathe when even that seems unbearable, you have no other arms to run to. We saw the hand of Jesus come again, and his spirit stirred within our own family, pulling them back to his heart. My in-laws gave their lives to Christ at our church the weekend I got out of hospital. Out of the broken vessels of our lives, Jesus has shone. We just kept saying yes and leaning in to him, and from that, profoundly beautiful things have come to be.
So while I am no longer bruised, but scarred; and no longer 35 weeks pregnant but empty; it is well with my soul. I have learned more about God in my deepest pain than I could have ever learned when life was sweet. I have never thirsted for him, for heaven or for goodness, like I do now. And I have never been so passionate about something as I am now.
Because of my stillborn son and my miscarried daughter, I am a bereaved parent. I am in a hurt and unwanted group I had never planned to be apart of, but I am better for it. For with our pain came an empathy, an understanding and an ability to not just look at others, but to see them. We are deeply motivated to speak about our losses and to not be ashamed by them, but be proud of our children and stand undaunted by their deaths. I am in the process of organizing the first Australian walk of remembrance through Bears of Hope to honour and support bereaved parents. We are raising money, awareness, support and our voices to the bereaved to encourage every one to always still hope, even in the hardest of seasons, to always cling on to Jesus.
As one stranger wrote to me, “If the purpose of life is to bring glory to God, then your son has done it perfectly without taking a single breath.” Out of the ashes, the worst seasons of our lives, the hopeless, the desperate and the agonizing days, goodness can grow and yield a great hope. The night is always darkest before the sun rises.
I’ve not yet had a day where I haven’t thought of my babies. But in that same moment, there’s never been a time I haven’t clung on to hope, which anchors my soul. I will forever still hope.
Trish Thomas is 28-year-old mum, wife, teacher in Sydney, Australia, mum, wife, teacher. You can find her on Facebook.