On September 14, Makena Lani was born stillborn to my brother Jeremy and sister-in-law Ayako after the placenta couldn’t give Makena what she needed. The news at Ayako’s last doctor’s appointment at 41 weeks that they couldn’t find a heartbeat was shocking and devastating. I can’t describe how it felt even to me as the expectant aunt to have hope, excitement over a new life about to arrive at any time, anticipation stamped out by death. Our dancing turned to mourning. Thoughts of the emotional pain overtaking Jeremy and Ayako overwhelmed me and left me on my knees, begging God for this not to happen, for the doctors to be wrong.
I was holding my own baby tightly in my arms soon after I found out that we might have already lost Makena, trying to soothe him as he cried. That was when I felt God telling me that just as I was holding JP to comfort him, God was holding me. He had His arms around all of us as we mourned.
This cross was given to Makena in expectation of her life by Ayako’s sisters and was engraved with her name. The words etched upon it are “May God bless you and keep you and may His light shine upon you always.” I’m amazed at how God answered this blessing by keeping Makena for Himself, where His light will truly always be shining on her. And this is why our hope has not been truly stamped out as it felt at first. We know we don’t need to “grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:13b-14). Although we will have the pleasure of enjoying and loving our living children in this life, they will also have to suffer the pains of this world. I believe Makena never will because “God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3b-4). This is how we dance while we mourn.
I can’t wait to meet you, my beautiful niece, Makena Lani.