Posted by: Heather | October 8, 2010

My Hope Endures

Psalm 71:14   But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.

I have a dear friend that I have known for several years now.  I met her when I taught some Monday evening seminars at her church a few years ago.  As time has passed, our friendship has grown closer.  I jokingly call her my ‘groupie’, because whenever I am called upon to teach, she’s there if there’s any way her schedule allows it.   She’ll never know how much her support has meant to me.  I’m always happy to see her face when I look out into the crowd.

When she was asked to speak at a local event a week or so ago, I knew I wanted to return the favor, and be her ‘groupie’ too.   I wanted to lend my support to her, just as she has done for me.  The event was a local walk to raise awareness of suicide in a nearby county.   She was called upon to share her story there, and although I already knew her testimony, I was excited to hear her share it publicly.

Her dad took his own life by suicide 6 years ago, the day before Mother’s Day.  Her mother and sisters endured much pain…not only the pain that goes along with losing a loved one, but also the knowledge of how he died.  The theme for her speech was, “Our Hope Endures”.  I was so proud of her as she shared how people that commit suicide really don’t want to take their lives.  Most really only want to escape the pain they’re going through, and they see no other way out.   She also commented that the person they were is not defined by the way they died…there are still precious memories of them as the friend and loved one they were.  She spoke of how her dad loved his family, and how she enjoyed working with him the last 2 years of his life in his personal business.   She eloquently shared her faith in Jesus, and how He had helped her through that dark time in her life, and now she can remember her dad, not with pain, but with love and gratitude for the time they had together.  Nearing the end of her speech, she gave encouragement to the others listening that though they had gone through this same terrible ordeal, “Our Hope Endures”.

Another friend was standing next to me.  She is the editor for the local newspaper there.  As the speech came to a close, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “Your Hope endures too”.  It was a beautiful reminder to my ears of one reason heaven is very sweet to me.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  This cause brings awareness to the general public of a pain that for too many years parents dealt with privately…the loss of a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death.   Only in recent years has this become a subject that could be spoken of publicly.  In earlier years, parents suffered silently, with little to no support, and a lone picture or two stored in a box or bottom drawer.  It’s not that people didn’t want to lend support.  Often, they just didn’t know how.

I have a special connection with this cause.  I am one of the many every year that has endured the pain of losing a child.  Our third child, a daughter, died due to complications during childbirth.  I went into labor the afternoon of December 21, 1999.  Everything progressed normally until 2 minutes before she arrived.  At that point, the heartbeat could no longer be heard.  She spontaneously delivered, and was unable to breathe on her own.   After she was placed on life support, she appeared as though she was breathing, but the doctor said it was a brain stem reflex that simulated breathing…not true breath.

My husband told me he thought we should name her Hope.  After all, our hope was definitely in the Lord to bring us through this.  I agreed that was the right name for her.  We spent as much time as we could with her during that next day.  The doctors advised us to remove the life support, but I just couldn’t make that decision without consulting God first.

I lay in bed in the early morning hours of December 23rd.  It was about 1:30 AM.  I am not one who often has what I call visions, but I was desperate to know what God wanted us to do.  I suppose it could have been a dream, but I don’t remember being asleep.  As I lay there praying about what we should do, I saw Hope laying on her bed in front of me.  She wasn’t really there, because she was in the NICU downstairs.  I saw the most beautiful golden light I’d ever seen, and the closer it came, the brighter it got.  I could see a figure, but no features.  The figure neared her bed, picked her up, and left just as He had come.  Immediately afterward, I called the NICU to find out how she was.  They told me the brain stem reflex that simulated breathing had stopped at precisely the time I saw her leave me.   I knew then what God’s answer was.

The afternoon of December 23, 1999, Hope Lorae died peacefully in my arms with several of our family members present.  The doctors could offer no explanation, other than it happened so quickly, there was no way they could have prevented it, regardless of the circumstances.  It was a pain that I would never wish on anyone.  But, during that time, we had so much support from family and friends.  I’m so thankful for each of them.

Hope Lorae Hampton 12/21/99-12/23/99

When a child dies, whether they passed due to miscarriage, sometime after birth, or any time in between, the parents are left grieving.  So many times, people don’t understand why they can’t ‘snap out of it’, or get over it quickly.  I had a well-meaning person ask me 1 month after Hope’s death if I had ‘gotten over it yet’.  It’s just not seen as the same kind of pain as if it were the death of another family member.  Even if these parents have never met their child, they grieve the loss of a lifetime of dreams that will never be.  All of the questions about what kind of adult their baby would become will go unanswered.  It’s a loss that’s impossible to understand if you’ve never been through it.

But through it all, there’s one thing I know…my Hope endures.  No longer does she endure in this life, other than in my pictures and memories.  But, she endures eternally in a place where she will never again feel pain.  I have hope in Christ that one day, I will meet my Hope again.

Thankfully, the days of fresh, raw grief are behind me.  Only rarely does a memory come upon me that makes me shed tears.  I can now remember her with fond memories of the short time we spent together.  In my earthly eyes, the time was far too short.  But from her perspective, she got the better end of the deal.  She beholds her Creator face-to-face every day.  Even so, I continue to praise God more and more, and look ahead to the time when my beautiful baby and I will never be separated again.   My thoughts about her are forever engraved on her memorial…”Hope isn’t dead…Hope is eternal”.

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Responses

  1. Beautifully written, Heather. Love you!!!

    • Thanks Amy. I love you too! 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing Heather. We lost a baby between J J and Rachel. In fact, I was preaching at Christ Temple when Donna lost the baby. She told me to stay and finish the meeting even though she really wanted me to come home. It should have been a no-brainer! My place was with her. We were taught back then that “nothing comes before church!” When I came home something unspoken lingered between us. I didn’t know what to say or how to comfort her. She withdrew and we never talked about it again for many years. Twelve years later God spoke to me in a dream and showed me the little boy that we had lost. God told me that I would never be able to move on with my life until I mourned my child. I went to Donna and told her what the Lord had shown me. A tidal wave of emotion poured out as we grieved over that little life. We told the kids why we were crying and they started weeping too. They told us that they knew something was wrong for a long time but they didn’t know what it was. I don’t know why I am sharing this very personal part of our life, but whether a child lives a day or eighty years or never sees the light of day, that child must be acknowledged and celebrated! I know that someday when I come to the end of all of this that I will hold that little boy in my arms and tell him how much I love him.

    • Glenn,

      I appreciate you sharing your story. Even though I was most likely there when you all lost your baby, I don’t remember it. I don’t remember how old I was, but young, I know. I’m so sorry this happened to you all, and it’s such a wonderful story of how God let you see your baby and grieve for him. I also had a dream after Hope passed away. The only thing I could remember that I regretted was that I never opened her eyes to see them. I did have a dream where I did get to see them. It was precious to me. Grief is grief, no matter how old the baby is. God bless you!

  3. I didn’t know that Heather! This really touched me,Blessings to you and yours! Tony

    • Thank you Tony! 🙂

  4. Thank you Briggs. I knew one day I would tell it. For some reason it was on my mind the other day, before I even remembered it was Infant Loss Awareness Month. But, when I realized, I had a stirring to go ahead and write it. I appreciate all of your love and support. I love you too…very much. It seems we’ve known each other a lifetime. 🙂

  5. Precious friend, thank you for sharing this with “the world” . I will never forget the day you told me this story so beautifully in person. I’m sure it will be just the words that someone else needs to ‘hear’. Love you, Heather. I look forward to meeting Hope one day too. 🙂


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