I was asked to share at our women’s She Believed Flourish Conference this last weekend, to which I hesitantly agreed. I think my worst fear may be speaking in public, so this was a very stretching experience for me! The audio recording is not available quite yet, so I copied/pasted the Q & A’s from the written pre-interview for you to read. Obviously things were not said verbatim during the live set, but I did my best to answer as it was rehearsed below:
Q: For those of us who may not know your story, give us a brief synopsis of your last couple years.
A: The last couple years have been the hardest days of my life. While pregnant with my firstborn in 2011, my husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer, and his fertility was cut by 50%, so we were beyond excited when we found out we were pregnant with Cruz in March of 2013. But Cruz was born with a serious liver disorder, and after living at the hospital with him for 2.5 months, he passed away on January 30th of last year. Since then, we’ve had continual struggles, beyond the already insurmountable grief. His autopsy was released the following April, confirming suspicions that he hadn’t died first by his disorder, but from multiple complications he inherited from malpractice. We have all the proof we need to defend our son’s unlawful death, but every lawyer we’ve turned to has eventually rejected the case… because dealing with hospitals is never an easy win. We also found out that this liver disorder is hereditary. I’m a carrier… my mom was found to be a carrier just a couple of weeks ago, and now multiple females in my family have to undergo testing. So there’s a 50% chance that our little Valor here, who’s expected on July 20th, could have a failing liver as well, and if so, he will need an infant liver transplant in order to survive.
Q: How did God prepare you for this journey?
A: I think He’s been preparing me my entire life. If I look back through different seasons of my past, and I can see a common thread of endurance that He’s weaved into my tapestry. This thread has strengthened me, taught me that life NEVER goes how I want it to, it’s unfair, that happiness is illusive and unachievable… just when things start to feel right is when something goes terribly wrong. But you HAVE to choose joy in every circumstance. I’m sure people have assumed my life is much easier than it actually is, but it’s simply because I’ve never lived in bondage to the heartache I’ve endured. I carry wounds with me from when I was a young teenager that God is still healing.
A: This is a hard one. I think that I was delusioned while walking through Cruz’s actual stay at the hospital. The whole “God is for me, so who can be against me” mindset had me convinced that Cruz was going to be healed and come home with me, because how could anything else be true if God was truly with me in this storm? But little did I know, Satan was at serious work behind the scenes. I’ve been informed that my son’s geneticist here in Portland wasn’t even a geneticist. He was a real-life wolf in sheep’s clothing. He made all the major decisions in my son’s care… and those decisions eventually took his life. So I can sometimes look back at that time and think, “WHERE WERE YOU GOD!? Surely you knew that unless some sort of intervention took place, Cruz was going to die!?” But I have peace even still. And that’s how I know God has been with me. There’s no other way to explain why I don’t want to march in there and strangle everyone responsible. There’s no other way to explain how I was able to sit at his side and only leave to use the bathroom… I rarely slept, barely ate… But God’s grace was so thick. He gave me what I needed for each day. He also spoke to me through dreams the whole time. I actually sensed that Cruz wasn’t going to live about 2 weeks before he died, because the Holy Spirit said, “the greater gift will not be in his healing“. I knew right then… God’s plans were not in alignment with my plans. I stopped praying prayers for healing and pleading for miracles… I just played worship music, and Cruz and I said the Lord’s Prayer over and over – like a broken record. As soon as I began to speak those surrendering words, LET YOUR WILL BE DONE, Cruz started making turns for the worse.
Q: What has life been like post-Cruz?
A: Harder than I could have ever imagined. I find myself lost in a sea of tears and anguish one day, and the next I feel like, I can totally do this. But it’s as though I walk through life with something dangling in front of my face. I can’t do anything or talk to anyone without him on my mind. I’ve lost some of my motivation to live on this earth, because the things that used to be enjoyable just seem trivial and pointless. Psychological studies say that of all the losses one can experience, losing a child causes the most stress… greater than the loss of a spouse or a parent. The reason being, it goes against the natural order of things. When a parent has to bury their child in the ground, their will to live lessens, and that’s why bereaved parents (on average) live shorter lives than non-bereaved parents. I have to fight the feeling of wanting to be with Cruz, because it can take over rather quickly. Ezekiel has been the only thing that’s kept me going. The only thing. And I know it sounds bad to say it out loud, but my desire to be with my son can often outweigh my desire to be here with my husband. I don’t think there’s any way to explain the feelings I battle…. it’s something you have to experience firsthand to understand.
The most amazing thing that’s happened since Cruz passed away is the amount of women I have met through social media who’ve also lost children, who’ve also tried to fight illegal practice… some believers and some not. As much as I hate seeing all the babies who continue to die from cancer and ugly diseases, I love that I am someone they turn to for help. I get direct messages from mothers who are desperate, and being able to walk with them though this strange journey has become my life’s main ministry.
Q: What do you have to say to those of us who are presently in a storm?
A: This life is not what we’re living for. Like the feeling of being starved and waiting for that glorious, gratifying meal to take away your hunger… only this world has nothing that can fulfill that hunger. Our Father is preparing a table for us, and we need to get our eyes fixated off of how discontent we are now, and fixated on His promise… on the things to come. It helps me cope if I live more heaven-minded.
A: I don’t know if everyone is like me, but I find the less conversation the better. Grief is exhausting… like running a nonstop mental marathon. So the last thing you feel like doing is answering a bunch of questions that you’ve already answered a million times before, and you also don’t have room in your limited head-space to listen to a bunch of things you’ve heard time and time again. I can’t tell you how hard it was to reemerge into the world and have to hear absolute statements of faith like “I KNOW everything is gonna be ok, God wouldn’t let you walk through the this twice” (ok, but He would allow for it once???) Or encouragements like, “God just loved Cruz so much He wanted him home already”. I’d also avoid trying to relate to them by comparing your storm to theirs. Every storm takes its own course, and different things are damaged along the way… so your experiences and heartache are always going to differ from someone else’s, no matter how severe. The best way to be supportive is to just be there. Be there to do nothing. Be there to listen, to cry with them, laugh with them. Also, gifts speak louder than words in these crucial times. My love language is NOT gift giving, yet somehow this was the most helpful after loss. It’s the least intruding, and communicates that you not only care, but you empathize, you think about them… you haven’t forgotten. Bring them a latte from their favorite coffee shop, email them a gift card to their favorite store, with nothing more than a note that says, “love you”. These things can brighten their day in the smallest way… and sometimes that’s all they need to keep them from slipping into despair.
>> I’ll attach a link to the live recording as soon as it becomes available! <<