"Sweet boy, stop fighting. Stop struggling. Stop suffering. Baby boy it's ok. Don't be afraid. Jesus is waiting for you. He has a place prepared for you."
I stayed up crying for hours. Not the kind of crying that brings more pain but the kind of crying that brings peace and washes over your fears. I fell asleep at some point faintly begging my Jesus to let him stay if it was possible.
Two days later I was on my way to the hospital and I felt a pit in my stomach. I felt nauseous. I had no idea what I was going to walk into - whether this baby boy I loved would still be with us. To my surprise he was still there and the doctors said he was doing better. He didn't have any tubes or wires hooked up to him. He wasn't uncomfortable or crying. He was just calm and peaceful. I fed him a little of his bottle and I walked him over to the hospital window. It was sunny and there was a warm breeze blowing. He laid on my chest watching the sway of the trees with the rays of the sun cast on his face. He fell asleep.
I now know just how good my Father is. He gave me that day. He let me see this baby boy pain-free, wire-free, tube-free, peaceful - because that's how he is now.
I have experienced loss before but not like this. His death would be sad no matter what but the events surrounding his death are not only unjust, but tragic. I have never felt so helpless in my life. My mind replays the events every moment I have alone. How lonely he must have felt. How confused he must have felt. How helpless he must have felt. It's something I don't know I will ever get over - and I hope I never do.
Something important I have learned over the last two years can be summed up in two simple words: lean in. When it hurts, lean in. When you are suffering, lean in. When you don't understand, lean in. When the pain is unbearable, lean in. So many times in my life when something has happened that I can't explain and that doesn't make any sense, I just ran from it. I ran from the sadness and the confusion and the difficulty only to be knocked over by it years later. I pushed anger and unforgiveness to the back corners of my heart instead of bringing it to the surface and letting myself feel it and be freed of it.
Our Father wrote us love letters in His Scripture preparing us for the trials we will face. "In this world you will have trouble..." It's inevitable. We can't avoid pain - it will always find us. And if we don't prepare ourselves for it and lean into it and let ourselves feel it, one of two things will happen; we will either be knocked over by it when we least expect it or we will harden our hearts to it in order to protect ourselves. Both scenarios have serious consequences.
For many of us, God has been working tirelessly to give us "hearts of flesh" - a heart like His. A heart that breaks for this world's injustices. A heart that longs to be part of His perfect plan for redemption. That means feeling things the way His heart feels them. A heart that experiences great joy is also one that knows deep pain.
I've been tempted this week, since losing Arturo, to keep myself busy. To not talk about him. To lose myself in distractions. But God keeps whispering to me, "Lean in..." Because he is not just God. He is also a Father who knows deep pain. A Father who watched His son suffer on a cross for people who didn't even know He was doing it for them.
So instead of busy and instead of avoidance and instead of distractions - I stop in the middle of my bedroom, a worship song blaring, my hands in the air and tears falling. I talk about him with people who ask how I'm doing. I scroll through his pictures on my phone. I imagine him in the arms of Jesus, with a perfectly whole body.
Even when it hurts, I lean in.
(This is the song that will forever remind me of my little Arturo)