If you've been reading here for any length of time, you have a decent idea of who I am and what I believe. I'm not shy about expressing it, or being honest about those things that turn me inside-out with fury. A child has died -- this is impossible to reconcile with anyone's idea of how things "should" be. When it is my child, it is particularly tricky to contend with so many of the claims that are made at times like this -- any line of reasoning is wholly inadequate when dealing with this mountain of grief.
I, like so many other people I know, hoped for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child (honestly, does anyone hope for anything else with a pregnancy?). I didn't want any drama or special attention. I didn't want there to be any need for a "Team Ewan."
But even when I was pregnant with Ewan -- even after we found out about his broken heart, there was a phrase that kept popping into my mind. So many faithful Christians use it, but I don't think I've ever heard it said in response to the loss of a child.
God is good.
Typically, this is what is said when there is a job promotion. When the cancer is gone. When a healthy child is born without any complications. When the sun is shining, when we got the new house, when we are propping our feet up in the eighty-degree sunshine with an iced tea in our hand. When the kids are doing well, when our bank accounts are full, and when the world is kind to us.
If there is one thing I know now for sure, it is that a dead child doesn't allow for a fluffy theology.
The things Ewan taught me will be unfolding for the rest of my life, and this is a big one. If we believe God is good only when we have a reason to smile at what life brings us, then we haven't embraced the gospel fully enough. The Christian faith is one of carrying the cross, of rejoicing in the midst of suffering. It's not a message of prosperity, where the "good news" is that Jesus will give you whatever you want if you pray the right prayer, have enough faith, and assent to a particular list of bullet points. If that's the message, then Jesus was certainly the most miserable failure when it came to living out the message that he preached.
It begs to be said again that yes, we grieve. Yes, I am and will be angry that Ewan is not here. Yes, I get furious that when so many people around us are having perfectly healthy children, we didn't get that. Yes, I cry and kick and scream until I'm so physically exhausted that I cannot cry or kick or scream anymore. I've said before and will say again that having faith in God and having hope that this is not the end does not cancel out the grief and anger we experience. That is simply not realistic.
But it also begs to be said:
My Ewan was diagnosed in utero with a severe heart defect. God is good.
He nearly didn't make it out of open heart surgery at five days old. God is good.
At 16 days old, his kidneys, liver, and intestines were failing and he suffered from a serious blood infection. God is good.
My infant -- my only child -- died in my arms. And yes, even if I say it through gritted teeth at times, God is good.
I don't claim to be able to explain how or why any of this happened -- and it's not as if the fact that it happened makes me happy. Far from it. It is not something anyone can be trite about, and it is not something that can be easily dismissed or explained. I adamantly reject any easy "bumper sticker" types of responses to our grief, our loss, or to why Ewan suffered as greatly as he did. It is not fair. It is not how it is supposed to be. I am the last one you will find claiming otherwise.
But I do know that God is good -- and that even out of horrible things, He makes good things happen. I also know that I don't know everything. I can acknowledge that because of Ewan's story, all sorts of good things may be happening that I will never find out about. And no -- no amount of good things happening because of him is the same as having him here. And even if we should be so fortunate as to have other children who are born healthy, it isn't as though any of those children could replace him. Even now, we feel keenly that our family is missing Ewan.
So whether I say it through a smile, through my tears, or somewhere unintelligible in the cacophony of kicking and crying and screaming, I say to you: God is good.