I was in my Starbucks “office” a few months back wearing my Jud Bud shirt when someone who followed our journey recognized me, introduced herself, and introduced me to her friend, Dana, who was pregnant at the time. What I did not realize in that moment was how much my heart would grow to love the baby girl she was carrying in her womb.
Subsequently, I began to run into Dana regularly at my “office” and in time discovered that her unborn baby had Trisomy 18 with multiple heart defects. Dana didn’t know whether or not she would have the gift of holding her baby alive, much less bringing her home.
Olivia Jane was born on January 25th at 5 lbs. 1 oz—alive! And thus began Dana and her husband Jeremy’s journey of caring for a special messenger from God.
Over the last forty-seven days, I have been given the privilege of sharing in a bit of their journey with baby Olivia. As Dana and I have regularly sat together in the coffee shop these last several weeks, intimately engaging the pain of having a child given a death sentence, patrons of Starbucks peek over her shoulder to soak in the beauty of her tiny baby. Oohs and Aahs ensue. Meanwhile, many people express common assumptive statements about Olivia’s life and development , completely unaware how those hopes for her will likely go unrealized, and how it triggers pain in her mom’s heart.
Yet as Dana and Jeremy’s lives have been torn, all at once completely and unconditionally loving sweet Olivia while also fighting the inclination to protect themselves from the painful cost of doing so (Caring Bridge Journal 3/3/12), Drake and I have observed the beauty pouring forth from their sacrificial and risky love; deepening, stretching, sharpening, softening, and melting their hearts. Despite the fact that Olivia’s body is rapidly fading from this life, their love for her and the grace emerging because of it will have permanence both now and for eternity.
They are weary, broken, and hurting, trying to live in the moment. But instead of bitterness and resentment arising out of the impending death of their child, they are modeling gratitude over the gift of life, a sweet precious life indeed. And in that one conscious choice, God’s redemptive work takes root.
It is beautiful to observe.
You can follow Olivia’s journey here.