On September 6, 2011, we laid down to rest, our third child Brooklyn Alexie Raines. She was only 37 1/2 weeks old and was delivered stillborn. Today, a year after, we commemorate her short life. I believe that even though I never saw her alive (though felt her kick many times while she was in the womb), she has given my family so much reason to live for. This is why I am writing this piece, to honor my little baby, and to ensure that her memory lives on and that her passing is not in vain.
What happened to us on that fateful day of 29 August 2011 can only be described as tragic. It was obviously the saddest moment of our lives and the pain, though it may ease up as the years go by, will probably never go away. However, I will not linger on this for no amount of commiseration will ever bring her back. Instead, I want to remember the short life she lived and what she meant to us.
I believe that despite what happened to us, there is still so much reason to rejoice and give glory to God for. Just a few months before, on June 5, 2011, we had a major car accident. You can see below the damage it has caused our car. We were hit from behind by an SUV running at the speed of 90 mph. The car was totaled. Miraculously, truly by God's grace, all 5 of us survived. Yes, Brooklyn too, survived the ordeal. Sadly, a few months after, she left us.
You may wonder...how can a baby survive such an accident and then eventually say goodbye? Why? I honestly do not know the answer. Certain circumstances that happen in life sometimes leave us without any clear explanation. It was God's providence and I accept it. Of more importance to me, rather than answering the question why, is to ask what has God done for us?
One of us was taken away but the Lord in His kindness and mercy chose the rest of us, all four of my family to continue living. I still have my two beautiful tots. I still have the most wonderful husband in the world who truly lives out 1 Corinthians 13 on a daily basis. I have lost Brooklyn (and my sorrow is beyond words) but the Lord allowed me to keep the rest of my family. For this I am truly grateful. I cannot ask for more. Brooklyn has shown us that life is precious and that every single moment counts.
If there are any lessons at all to be learned in this difficult experience; it is to truly trust God and to be thankful regardless of the circumstances. As I look back, I cannot imagine how I managed to keep myself in one piece if not for the love of God that has been shown through Mark, William and Sophie, my immediate and church family and countless friends. During the most trying times, they were there for me, lifting me up in prayers, helping me in practical ways and, comforting me in my grief. Sometimes it is when we go through the toughest times that we truly experience God's love and presence. This is when I learned to trust Him more, to depend on Him more. I do not know what tomorrow may bring (Life is indeed short as Brooklyn's experience has shown) but I am assured in Romans 8:28 that "...all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
One of the Lord's kindest providence was the timing of the burial. We wanted to have it on a Monday after my parents have arrived from the Philippines. However, we could not do it because it was Labor Day, a holiday, so we had to postpone it till the next day, Tuesday. This was the same day that my little boy William was to attend his first day of Kindergarten. I was apprehensive and a little anxious about the timing of it all. How can these two momentous yet significantly different situation happen on the same day? I didn't know how I can bring myself to say goodbye to Brooklyn in the morning and then bring William to school immediately thereafter. It seemed odd. In hindsight, I think I know why the Lord orchestrated it this way. It was no mere coincidence. In the morning, as we laid Brooklyn to rest, I, and the rest of the family, were not only in tears but quite in deep sorrow. But then just before noon, we were all excited to see William off to school. If it did not happen this way, I would have just been wallowing in my grief all day long. But the Lord reminded me, while there is much sorrow when you say good-bye to a loved one there is also much to rejoice when you see life around you. Taking William to school for the first time that same day gave me hope and peace and even joy knowing that I still have so much to live for.
After what happened, I also have learned to appreciate and love my family more than ever. Yes, there are so many challenges in raising children and managing a household, but the Lord has given me the chance to build my own house (for this I am eternally grateful) and I hope and pray that I will give Him honor and glory as a Mom and a Wife. I thank the Lord for my loving family and for Brooklyn who gave us much joy albeit in a very short time. Like David, I look forward to meeting her again someday.
For now, as we look at the many sunrises and sunsets in the horizon, we pray that we will keep Brooklyn's memory afresh and never forget how the Lord dealt kindly with us during this very difficult time. My hope is that when you read this, not only will you remember our little Brooklyn but that you may seek the Lord, feel the same love that He has shown us, and have joy and peace amidst all trials and afflictions. To God be the Glory!