I think about him every day, the boy we called our son for a mere week. Without effort, I can recall his sweet coos, the color and smell of his skin, the sound of his cry. (Thankfully that memory no longer wakes me in the night.) Every day, my mind drifts to his long, scrawny newborn legs, and my heart catches; at five months old, his legs have surely accumulated some delightful baby rolls. The 5 lb. 14 oz. boy we knew is no longer. Somewhere, he is growing up, and we don’t get to see it.
I found Christmas Day to hold a dissonance I didn’t anticipate. On one hand, joy to the world! The Lord is come! On the other, the bedroom across from ours holds an assembled crib that is filled with boxes, broken down from our move to a new state. The closet in the same room holds boxes labeled “Newborn”, packed in tearful haste the day we left him at the adoption agency. (I am ever-thankful for my friend, Kelsey, who was brave enough to enter our pain and help us pack his things.) During the few days we held Micah in our arms, I had imagined the sights and smells and feels of Christmas morning: breakfast baking in the oven; watching Evan cuddle him as we opened gifts, surrounded by family; reading to him about Jesus’ humble birth; sipping spiced cider, knowing he was tucked into his crib for a nap.
These things wouldn’t come to pass after all. But someone, somewhere, got to snuggle Micah by a tree, that sweet morning of his first Christmas.
Amidst the holiday joy, my heart broke all over again. A piece of my heart is walking (well, being carried) around in the world, and I’ll never see it again.
When we learned that we would not be his forever family, my heart wrestled with a huge and faith-defining question: If God only gives good gifts to His children—and finally having a child and being parents is a rich, mind-blowingly great gift—how is losing Micah a good gift?
After months of trying to wrap my head around this reality, I stumbled on this: It isn’t my job to understand the why of this situation. It is my job to see it for what it is and respond with praise to a holy and sovereign God whose goodness never ebbs nor flows. Perhaps this situation, as heartbreaking as it is, was simply an opportunity for us to image God’s goodness in way that we hadn’t before, to love Micah as well as we could for the time that we had him. Or maybe this situation is to teach us about covetousness. Jen Wilkin writes, “ Coveting implies a lack in God’s present provision” (In His Image, p. 51). Doesn’t this strike at the heart of the question I wrestled with? Did I not perceive a lack in what He gave to us in that season? My heart cried that what we had was not enough, as though we deserved more . . . as though we were entitled to more.
But we don’t and we aren’t.
It was a kindness of the Lord to give us even that brief time with Micah, right before we launched into one of the hardest seasons of our marriage. The nurses at the hospital repeated that he seemed older than 40 weeks gestation. At the time, that didn’t mean much to me. But looking back, Micah was awake and happy for much for much of the time we had him. He was alert unlike any newborn I have ever seen, and he interacted with us all the time. What a generous gift from God, that we were able to know him so well in that short time! The memories we have tucked away are a sort of touchstone for us, in the craziness. We can return to them, return to the pictures on our phones, and recall the sugary sweetness of that little boy and the bond the three of us shared.
Though we will likely always miss Micah to some degree and carry him with us in our hearts, with our whole hearts, we can say, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34)