When I felt Heaven on Earth

As I laid in the special care unit of the OB ward last April, the amount of pain I felt was unbearable: the deep, gut-wrenching pain of helplessness and frustration, cloaked heavily in disgust for my body’s failure to keep our daughter alive, and the overwhelming grief coupled with the realization of the emotional pain that was to come in the hours, days, weeks, months, and years ahead of us. To say I was in my own little world would be an understatement. To make matters worse, I hadn’t slept in several days. I was the epitome of misery.

Two women came to the hospital. They wanted to talk to us. They were from some organization that I didn’t care to be bothered with at that moment. At the prodding of my nurse and my momma, we agreed to speak with the women. Something about bereavement, mementos, and stuff like that. They left, telling us they would return at any time, day or night, to speak with us again when Eliza was born.

On April 6, 2013 in the wee hours of the morning I finally delivered our girl. She was broken but perfect and incredibly loved. The nurses notified the women to return, and at 2:30 in the morning they were there. They were there with comforting words, prayers, hugs, and patience. These two sweet, selfless women came into our room and experienced what was, for me, the most profound spiritual experience of my life. You see, in those moments after our baby was born, the most overwhelming peace and calm swept through the room. This was a feeling that was so incredible and so strong that I believe I could actually feel the Lord in the room. I felt the calming embrace that only the He can offer. In those days before, I had felt abandoned by God and conflicted with my faith. I know these precious moments were to reassure me when I needed it most. These moments of boundless peace and calm that my husband and I felt were shared with the special women of Sufficient Grace Ministries.

The sweet women asked us if we would like them to take photos of Eliza. I was uncertain in those emotional moments, but we agreed to let them do it.

Weeks passed. Months passed. An entire pregnancy passed. One week before the one-year mark of our brief hello and goodbye to our little one, I felt compelled to have something. Anything. I needed proof she existed. Proof this hurt wasn’t for nothing. Proof that my feelings were valid and this hurt was justified. I sent an email to the woman who came to the hospital that night. I learned her name when she touched my heart with kindness that sad night. Her name is Kelly Gerken and she coordinates an organization called Sufficient Grace Ministries. I asked her if she had any photos of our little lady because I did not even remember if we had them taken. Thankfully, she had photos for us. And so this week, my husband and I went to see Kelly and retrieve the only pictures we will ever have of Eliza. It was an emotional reunion with Kelly, and an even more emotional moment seeing those pictures. We are so grateful we have them. It took me a year to feel ready, but I made it.

So on this day, one year later, we remember our baby girl, Eliza Marie. We remember our dreams for her. We remember the joy she brought us. We remember the love with which she was born. We remember her perfect fingers and toes. We remember that she will always be a part of us.

“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss

Please consider supporting Sufficient Grace Ministries. This organization does amazing things for families and their sweet babies.


10 thoughts on “When I felt Heaven on Earth

  1. What a beautiful story!! Your angel was truly alive and is still today. Only difference is that she now resides in her heavenly home with her heavenly Father…To have individuals that are here to support those in their darkest moments is the work of the Lord as well….May you always remember that when you cry, those of us who know your pain all to well, cry right along with you….God bless each and every person who was a part of this angels life…..Love ya!!

    • Thanks, Maryann! They are special women, and they made such an amazing impact on Jeramey and I. I think Kelly is one of the most special people I have ever met!

  2. So beautiful , and so heartbreaking. I had to take a deep breath, it put me right back in that hospital, the hospital that saved my life , not once, not twice but three times, in the previous years, but could not save our sweet Eliza.Many people contacted me… dear friends, not so familiar people, some I had never talked to, and even some from Ashleys past,that she would never expect,nor I, to be so deeply concerned, and heartbroken for her and her husband. They told me about Kelly and Sufficient Grace Ministries. They wanted my permission to contact her.Some already had.I told them to come.Please help my baby say goodbye to her baby. I am so glad they did. what an amazing group of people.I am thankful I got to say goodbye to my grandbaby.And thankful for the people that cared. xoxo

  3. Kelly is an amazing woman and I am so blessed and thankfull to call her my friend. I’m glad she was able to be there for you. I pray this week and month is gentle on your soul. Sending you hugs, dear momma!

  4. Beautiful. I am so thankful for the pictures we have of Luke, taken by a similar organization. That is a beautiful thing to do on the first anniversary. Luke’s is coming up in just 5 weeks and I am stressing a little bit on how to properly mark the day. I’m glad you had a good experience.

    • Thank you, Sara. I asked the head of SGM what people usually do, and she said it ranges from full-blown birthday parties to nothing at all. We did what was comfortable for us. Perhaps next year we will want to do something different. Whatever you choose to do, it’s the right thing to do. 💗

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