My heart is aching today for my friends. Yesterday, my pastor’s little girl, Haven Grace, died at three years old.
Three. Years. Old.
Haven was born with a serious heart condition and was very ill until, by a great miracle, she survived a heart transplant in August of 2010. When they finally came home from the hospital, she seemed like a new child, and suddenly she was running around with my little ones every Sunday after church, bursting with energy and just like mine, talking a mile a minute.
She captured our hearts right away- the first time we really met her, she held out her arms and said to my husband, “hode you.” He was more than a little surprised, but took her from the arms of her mama, and a big smile spread across his face as Haven looked up with a smile at him. My husband- the man whom I’d never seen willingly hold any child but ours.
She was truly special. I really don’t like to say it like that because it seems so cliché to say it of a person, but she was genuinely a gift from God.
Four weeks ago, as we stood in church singing, I spotted little bitty Haven in the arms of her tall grandfather, lifting her hands in praise as she sang.
I couldn’t stop crying.
Tiny hands lifted in praise to the Creator of all things.
Jesus had given Haven a wonderful gift. She knew Him. It seems crazy to say it, but seeing her interact with people was amazing. She would sit in the laps of my friends at church, look them straight in the eye and smile deep into their soul. It was like having Jesus tell you “I love you” through the eyes of a tiny little child.
I would hear stories from her dad as he led our growth group of how she wouldn’t cry or fuss when they stuck her over and over again- how the nurses and doctors were in awe, and how she drew them in and made them love her like the rest of us.
She had health issues; like any heart-transplant patient, her life was never really “normal”. Her mama, Lacy, showed me her medicine cabinet once and I was blown away. They had more medicine bottles than drinking glasses.
But her frequent heart tests came back rejection-free, and we all rejoiced as life returned to semi-normal for their sweet little family. They were able to move back home after living in the Ronald McDonald house for months, and Haven and her mama got to come to church when everyone was well.
Then suddenly last week, Haven started showing serious signs of rejection- they care-flighted her to the hospital last Wednesday and exactly one week later, her little heart gave up and she went to be with Jesus. Just like that.
My heart breaks for my friends. They are some of the sweetest, most faithful people I know. They’ve been such amazing examples of trusting in God through trial, and to see their faith being refined in such an impossible situation testifies unquestionably to the work and comfort of the Holy Spirit. We’re so blessed to know them and to see God working in their lives.
I don’t even know what happens when you lose a child. I try to imagine it, but I can’t really. At all.
I don’t know what happens next. I am having a hard time going about my daily chores and everyday life- what can this day be like for them?
I know they rejoice in the Hope. I know they aren’t grieving like the rest of the world does. They know they will see her again.
But they are still living here, together without her for the time, and that breaks my heart.
I love them dearly. Will you pray for their family this week, and as you remember them?