If Your Tragedy Had Never Happened



(Image by David Castillo Dominici, courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.com)

In 1990, I was twenty-five years old and nine months pregnant. I went to my final doctor visit on December 5th, and while there, the doctor told me that if I didn’t go into labor over the weekend, he would induce me the following week. He also accidentally revealed that the baby was a boy. I floated out the office door and went down the stairs to where my then-husband was waiting in the car. We always wore our seat belts, but this time we were so busy chattering, so excited over the news,  that we both forgot.

We never made it home.


I am very careful when I write about my son, who was born that day. He was a real person whose life was snatched away from him (not just from me). I never write in such a way as to allow what happened that day to become a “story” with my son as a mere character. So there is no need for me to delve into all the details of our accident right now, because at any rate what I really want to talk to you about is the place of tragedy in our lives.

Relatively minor things are going to happen to everybody, right? Somebody breaks into the house and steals the valuables. The “love of our life” strays away. We lose jobs, we lose our looks, maybe we lose a few of our marbles. The kids grow up and do things we don’t approve of. And in all these things, we generally grit our teeth and keep slogging on, until eventually there comes a day that we can praise the Lord that we didn’t marry that person, that we didn’t get Job A because Job B was even better, and so on. Then everything comes into focus and it’s easy to talk about how all things work together for good and how the Lord had a wonderful plan in place all the time.

It’s very different when you’re facing a tragedy so cruel and so devastating that no matter how you turn it, no matter how you analyze it and try to understand, you can’t see anything but emptiness and horror.

I remember a day, it must have been close to a year after my son’s death, that I came home from work and was just sitting in the living room alone. I can still remember the light fixture that was above my head, because that’s what I was looking at when I burst out sobbing and crying, “Why? Why?” I got up daily and went about my life, but the grief was constantly in my heart. I could never make any sense of why a precious, wanted baby would form so miraculously inside me, day after day and month after month, only to die in a senseless accident. And I would have given anything, anything, to have him back. I will never stop being sorry for him that his life ended after eleven days.

But that was many years ago, and so I’ve had time to consider what my life would be today if we had made it home safely from the doctor’s office, and everything had proceeded as expected. I think anytime an accident happens, you ask “what if” in a thousand ways. For example, I remember the doctor’s receptionist offering me an early-morning appointment, but I thought I’d rather sleep in so I took a later one. And after the appointment, my then-husband wanted to go one direction but I reminded him of an errand we’d promised to do, in the other direction. What if? The slightest variation in anything that day, and we would not have been there to collide with another vehicle at that particular moment. Over the years, I have learned to ask “What if we hadn’t?”

I am not about to sit here and think up a list of positive things that happened because my child died; that’s not what I’m getting at. But I do sometimes consider my now-husband, my soulmate of twenty years, and realize that I would never have met him if my life had stayed on the path I expected it to. I look at my beautiful daughter and my precious second son and wonder if they would have existed at all. What if I were given the chance to reverse all these years? What if the Lord said to me that he would turn back the clock, give my baby back to me, but I would never know these other three that I now call my family? I might bow my head and cry, but I would leave things as they are. And that gives me faith that I can trust God to know what he is doing after all–no matter how impossible it might be to see it at the time. He understands what we cannot even fathom.

This week in addition to my usual linkup I am sharing with:

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12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tracy @ OurSimpleLifeSC
    Sep 08, 2014 @ 11:12:19

    What a heart wrenching story…but I am so happy you can find a way to see the path God took you on and how it might not have been the same had your baby boy had lived. It is God’s path we live and we have to trust in his direction everyday. God Bless!


  2. Candy Reid
    Sep 08, 2014 @ 11:20:13

    Thank you for openly and eloquently sharing your heart. I’m so sorry for your loss and yet I rejoice with you in your gain.
    I found your link at The Art of Homemaking and I’m glad I stopped by this morning.




  3. Sharon
    Sep 09, 2014 @ 22:38:05

    I am here from Inspire Me Monday. The title of your post caught my eye, and I just had to see what you had to say about this. I am so deeply touched by your story. I have had things happen in my life that I’ve asked “Why” about. Certainly nothing as tragic as your loss. But, I understand the plaguing *what if* – and the constant re-hashing. I’ve even asked myself the same questions about sins that I’ve committed. Wondering, what if I hadn’t, what if I had done this instead…

    But your testimony to a faith that endures, a faith that deepens in spite of circumstances, a faith that continues to believe in God’s omniscient care – well, it’s touched me deeply today.

    Thank you.



  4. Laura
    Sep 10, 2014 @ 03:34:50

    Your are brave for telling this story. I hope you don’t harbor any guilt over what happened. I don’t believe for one second that God wanted you to go through the painful experience of losing a son, but it still sounds like He was able to use that horrible accident for good. Many times we will never know the “whys” of life…I am only beginning to accept and realize this.


  5. Candice
    Sep 10, 2014 @ 20:10:31

    Thank-you for sharing your testimony. Seeing God’s work in tragedy can be tough at times. Changing the what if to what if hadn’t takes a bit to warp ones mind around. (I still am) Have a great Wednesday!



  6. reneeliamrhys
    Sep 11, 2014 @ 10:12:49

    You are very brave sharing. In sharing once the grief has a little lessened helps with the healing. Thank you
    Alexa from Sydney , Australia



  7. Titus2Homemaker
    Sep 11, 2014 @ 23:42:28

    I can only imagine – and I can’t *even* imagine. I’ve had some losses in my life, but none of my own tragedies compare to the grief of losing a child that far along in life. As others said, thank you for sharing so transparently. (And thank you for letting us remember your son with you.)


  8. normaleverydaylifeblog
    Sep 13, 2014 @ 15:13:00

    I’m sorry for your loss. That is truly a tragedy where you will never know why. Thank you for sharing how God has worked in your life to bring you where you are today.


  9. sarahgirl3
    Sep 14, 2014 @ 16:04:26

    Thank you for sharing something so personal. No matter how many years go by, we still wonder why. God just wants our trust, for better or worse.


  10. jesthepilgrim
    Sep 15, 2014 @ 11:45:34

    Good morning, I can’t even imagine losing a child… Though hard times we have all had and during those hard times, how often we play out the if’s like you said. If I had done this then that would have changed. Those if’s hurt the most because it is like we are in charge. I think your conclusion is best, “And that gives me faith that I can trust God to know what he is doing after all–no matter how impossible it might be to see it at the time. He understands what we cannot even fathom.”

    Thank you for sharing last week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays! Our new link up is up and running if you would like to join in again this week…


    • Sweet-Water-and-Bitter
      Sep 15, 2014 @ 20:58:17

      Hi JES, thanks for visiting me. I’ve been trying to link with you every week but I must have been drinking decaf this morning because I forgot to do it. I am about to join you now…I’ll be at the back of the line but I’ll be there! :-)


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