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Braking Points

Exploring the Adventure of Aging

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fetal demise

Lydia and Abigail–A Tale of Two Sisters

Let me tell you a story, part truth, part fiction, because my mind tends to imaginings.

It was the worst of times followed by the best of times.  There was death and then there was life.  For there are  two sisters, one who died before she was born and one born ten months after the first one died. On November 10, 1997 I had lunch with my daughter Brandee at Wendy’s in Madisonville, KY just before her scheduled OB appointment. She was expecting our first granddaughter, who already had a name, Lydia Elizabeth. Just the weekend before our son Scott and daughter in law, Martha had been to visit with our grandson Jonathan, so we had had both grandsons Jordan [Brandee’s] and Jonathan. It had been great to have them together. Still the idea that a girl would soon brighten our lives thrilled us.

At lunch, Brandee confided that she was a bit anxious to see her doctor, because she had not felt Lydia move since the previous day. “I will feel better once I hear her heartbeat.” She said.

Unfortunately, there was no heartbeat not in the doctor’s office or at the hospital for a confirmation ultrasound while I sat holding my daughter’s hand [my son in law worked in Tennessee at the time and was on his way]. Brandee, whose faith has since she was a child amazed me, through tears said “I know God has a purpose, but I don’t know what it is.” The silent ultrasound mocked our platitudes. I was hurt. I was angry. If I were God, I would have made our Lydia’s heart come alive and beat again. All I could do was hold my hurting daughter.

SIDE NOTE: Terry and I have ever since began praying for unborn babies and the parents as soon as we hear of the pregnancy right up until birth and sometimes long afterward. I do not think that God punished any of us for not praying enough, but we want to acknowledge that as natural as pregnancy is, life is fragile and we want to be connected to the one who gives life and sustains it.

On October 9, 1998, Abigail Jo Foster entered the world, a healthy robust child. At the same time in heaven, Lydia leaned forward off her Grandmother Jo Nell’s lap giggling with delight. ‘My Sissy!’ She proclaimed. ‘I LOVE HER SO MUCH!’ The Lord was so delighted by her response that He appointed her as Abigail’s number one encourager. When Abigail succeeded at learning to walk, talk and give orders to everyone, Lydia clapped her hands with delight, ‘That’s my sister, she is one strong willed girl. I love her.’ Abigail in the meantime began to alternately look forward to Lydia’s interventions and the random thoughts that often bombarded her and bat them away from her.

Likewise when Abigail failed to take chances or perform in public, like when the kindergarteners in her class were rewarded by getting to do the Chicken Dance in a school assembly and Abigail chose to stay in the classroom with the kiddos who were detained, Lydia got right in her head and planted seeds of courage. Abigail did not appreciate anyone planting anything in her head, but Lydia kept right on. Later those seeds grew and with lots of encouragement, praise and love both earthly and heavenly , Abigail began to throw off the basket that covered her light. Lydia danced and sang and cheered right along with her little sister.

When Abigail sulked, ranted, raved and grew incredibly selfish at times, Lydia scolded her gently, though had she been on earth she might have smacked her one. When Abigail fed Frank, then Izzy and Clay, calfs abandoned by their mothers, Lydia stayed right with her and relished the dedication and hard work. Though Abigail and she had never met physically, the sister bond tightened over the years. Abigail noticed the nudges, the cheers, the scolding, but largely thought they came from her own head.

When at fifteen Abigail’s friend died in a car accident, Lydia rushed to meet Abigail’s friend near the portal of heaven, embracing her and loving her while at the same time reaching out to her hurting little sister to comfort her. From a front row seat in heaven Lydia has witnessed Abigail’s accomplishments, disappointments, joys, sorrows with a confidence that everything works together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. With her own place in heaven secure, she has watched and nurtured Abigail’s faith along with her parents, grandparents, and others.

Being a decisive person herself, Lydia finds Abigail’s indecisiveness a bit unsettling, nudging her here and there to get on with it. She also encourages her to be more adventurous and to live LIFE to the fullest. Lydia never took a breath on earth, but she knows heaven well.  And she sees what life really is and wants Abigail’s life to have meaning and purpose even though she is earth bound.  GO FOR IT! Is the cheer she shouts at Abigail daily, along with LOVE OTHERS!, BE KIND!, LAUGH! CRY! FOR HEAVENS SAKE LIVE LIKE YOU ARE ALREADY IN HEAVEN–CAREFREE!  Abigail does not hear the shouts though LYDIA screams as loud as she can.  She does, however, feel little brain pinches and wonderings. . .which frankly annoy her a lot

Sisters, What are you going to do with them?  One with her feet on the earth and the other firmly settled in heaven, but still connected, still sisters.

Whatever happens in Abigail’s life, her sister in heaven, knows that someday they will meet, laugh, giggle, dance and sing together. Until then she and God have a deal, Lydia is Abigail’s number one Cheerleader!

As a grandmother to both these sisters I feel strongly they are connected even though they never met each other in this world.

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Thanksgiving Day Twenty 2015

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Dear Lydia Elizabeth,

Today had you lived you would have been eighteen years old. I have watched your bothers and sister grow up, have celebrated their birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgiving and even had mini adventures with them.  I often wonder how the dynamics of siblings would be different if you had survived that kinked cord in your momma’s womb.  Would you be close to your sister Abigail and to your brothers, Jordan and Graham?  Would you be the blue eyed grandchild among our Foster grandchildren or brown eyed like Jordan and Abigail, or hazel eyed like Graham?

Days before your silent entry, your Mother, my daughter, sensed something wrong.  You had become motionless, at least she had not felt your waving hands or kicking feet.  In her OB doctor’s office, no heartbeat–a heartbeat she had heard since you were only a few weeks old–could be detected.  Two ultrasounds later we knew.  Medically speaking, my precious Lydia, the diagnosis was fetile demise, but our hearts were breaking because every dream we already had for you died with you.

Through it all, as we waited for your body to be born,  your parents held each other up and tried not to frighten your older brother Jordan.  They planned your funeral and ministered grace to all of us in our grief.  Your Mom told me God would use your brief life and your death for good.  Eighteen years ago today, your parents checked in at the hospital.  Your Mom took her crochet hook  and created small Christmas wreath pins, which she shared with the hospital staff.  That night as labor pains demanded “push”,  your body slipped into your mother’s arms.  Of course, your spirit already was in heaven.

Your death changed us all.  I was bereft, but I no longer took for granted that once a pregnancy reached a certain stage, a healthy birth was guaranteed.  Months later at an evening prayer session at Pembroke Christian Church, a few folks gathered as was our custom on Monday evenings.  One of the prayer requests was for a couple who had just learned via ultrasound that their unborn daughter had an anomoly that was not compatible with life.  They had chosen to continue the pregnancy over protests from family and friends, who undoubtedly thought to do so would lessen their pain.

I burst into sobs, shaking in my seat, praying outloud and passionately–not me at all, Lydia.  Why? because YOU my precious granddaughter impacted my world, gave me a heart for  pregnant women, their unborn babies, for expectant fathers and especially for the value of the lives of those babies like you who died way too soon.

I am thankful for your short life, Lydia.  I am thankful for your legacy of love expressed in the love your parents have for each other, in the lives of your siblings, and for teaching your Papa and Mimi that prayer for the unborn is prayer for the world.

Love Always –Hold you one day in Heaven,

Mimi

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