We walk into the house, straight-backed, our arms weighed down with pink-painted glory and we sit on the bed and we cry.
It’s my second daughter’s room that we sit in and it’s light grey and open and airy and waiting to be filled with the things that will make her eyes shine and her spirit soar. She is eight years old, nine next month, and I’ve never met her. I’ve waited almost nine long years to hug her tight. We have never gazed into each other’s eyes. I don’t even know her. And China is so far away it might as well be heaven and I miss her all the time.
A red-haired angel sits next to me on the bed, a brilliant mommy to five. She gave birth to the last one, Clair Shiloh, only four short weeks ago. And that one was the most beautiful, the most bright, and she lived only a few minutes, her lungs not made for this world.
She was created for heaven. I’ve seen her there, speaking her whole heart out for the good of the world. She holds hands with Papa God. She is so happy, so bright, a star, a shining light even in heaven.
But her mommy will wait a lifetime to hug her again.
And it’s pink-painted glory that brings us together today. Clair’s exquisite baby dresser is a beautifully ancient chest with drawers, brought into her family fifty years ago and second-hand even then. But Katie, my strawberry-blonde friend, she did the magic she does so well and that dresser is glorious now, with it’s pink streaky paint showing just enough of heirloom wood through the brush strokes, with gorgeous red and gold floral knobs that are the only new part of it all.
It glows. It really glows.
And it’s as we stand together in the bedroom, looking long at this beauty with tears beginning to fall that we realize, maybe my baby girl’s mom and Katie’s baby girl have already met in heaven?
It is sacred ground, this moment when we feel in the most eternal parts of us, that we are united through death, and through life. My baby’s mother had to go to heaven and Katie’s baby had to go to heaven, for this Heaven-on-earth to happen. And I feel Him here with us now.
Those chest drawers are still filled full with pink and purple, with the hand-knit and the twirly dresses, with the tiny baby socks and the footie pajamas. Filled full with accoutrements for a life never lived here on earth. And it breaks our hearts to see pink-painted glory, reminding us of all we’ve lost, of how forever-dull life seems without Clair Shiloh here in it beside us.
But we see too, another little girl’s heart in that streaky-pink wood. My little girl. We see her past, her family line, the ancientness of all she comes to us with. She has a story and it’s not all neat, it’s filled with the brush strokes of life and the aged wood of family history. She comes with some dents and scars but also with the weight and strength of all her parents worked for, to give her life.
And her new life with us is like those new knobs. Pretty and shiny and promising to be full of fun, but really, so far, just the accent on a life already begun with so much depth and dimension. We will grow together and her new life here will be so much more than pretty red knobs . . . .and the pink-streaky paint and the ancient wood will always be part of our story too now. We can’t pretend it’s a new story, her life. Because it’s a beautiful old one, being redeemed.
A baby died. A mother died. And we are here on earth, two mothers with our arms empty, completed by pink-painted glory and completely emptied out all at the same time.
For both of us have learned that life is not all beauty and that death is not all loss. Pink-painted glory glows softly in my daughter’s bedroom under the filtered light of an open window. And it speaks hope. Hope for redemption. Hope for beauty to come from ashes. It tells stories of red and pink lipstick prints and a three-year-old’s courage that only us mothers really know. And we can’t tell you all the details, because these are our daughter’s stories. Brilliant stories, but streaky stories too.
And we have grown, ancient hearts in two young women. Housefuls of children, and joy each day but always the brokenness too. And we are angry. And grateful. And so thankful to not be alone.
Pink-painted glory reminds us. That God is here, in us, around us and through us. And that a hand is always waiting to hold ours.
I love you Katie. And Clair. And my little one too. We are forever family now.