On March 31, my husband, Ernie, and I walked into labor and delivery. I was 33 weeks pregnant, and we had come to monitor our son’s movement. We had little concern, thinking we’d be leaving within an hour or two. Perhaps I just needed to drink more fluids or get more rest. Not all babies are super active; maybe he was just so big that there wasn’t much room. These were several of my thoughts as I was just waiting. But after six or seven doctors and nurses looked over the sonogram of our son, they quickly decided they needed to do an emergency cesarean because they weren’t sure why he wasn’t responding. Our emotions could not keep up with the events. I found myself changing into in a hospital gown, wheeling around for a spinal shot. I was instantly numb and entering the first surgery of my life, completely unprepared. Haddon Brooks Blanco arrived within about 20 minutes, 6 weeks early. Through a lot of tears, confusion, and fear, Ernie and I still looked at each other with joy that our son was here, not knowing that we had entered into the darkest weekend of our lives.
Haddon struggled through severe anemia and a virus, and his sweet daddy visited him nearly every hour, loving his little son who looked almost identical to him. For 40 hours we were with him, hearing a roller coaster of good news and bad news. On April 2, the Lord took our sweet boy to be with him. Just before he passed, we were able to sing to him. Ernie sang “It Is Well” and I hummed “A Mighty Fortress” the best I could. I held him for the first time, telling him we’d see him soon. I passed him to Ernie, and when the time came to take all the machines off, Ernie quoted Numbers 6:24-26 as the last words Haddon could hear:
The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance on you, and give you peace.
As our plans as parents have been thrown into confusion and sadness, we are faced with the question of what happens next. I long each morning to wake up to a crying baby to console in my arms. Ernie longs to come home from a long day of work to play with his son, and each time we walk to the garage we have to pass an empty nursery painted in blue. Through each seemingly impossible fear that rushes to our minds, the Lord has calmed us with several great truths about himself and our circumstance.
The Lord Does Not Delight in Wickedness
It was not wicked for the Lord to take our son. The Lord does not delight in wickedness or evil, his Word tells us in Psalm 5:4. His Word in Psalm 89:14 tells us that his throne is actually built on a foundation of righteousness and justice. I think this is how we can grieve well, when we long to take care and hold our son, to remember God’s foundation of righteousness in all that he does as we grieve in a world of sin and death. Somehow, in the death of our son, God will show us a greater picture of his goodness. Somehow, for our good, this is going to make us look more like his Son, Jesus.
God Is Still on Plan A
Ernie has reminded me that God is still on plan A in his plan of redemption. When Haddon died, God was not surprised or needed to start a plan B because something went wrong. 1 and 2 Peter reminded me that all the trials and suffering I will face here will result in praise and glory in the great day of Jesus Christ when he returns again. Haddon’s death has been part of God’s plan from eternity past; nothing is out of his control.
Haddon Is Now Looking Upon the Face of Mercy
There is a sweetness and gentleness of God that I’ve felt in my pain as I cry out to him, as I sit in Haddon’s nursery, and as I read my Bible. The same sweet, gentle, and kind God is the same God who took my boy to safety. He is in a place where he can see the love of God and hear the gospel of Jesus purely without the distractions of a sinful world. When you watch your son breathe his last, you have an overwhelming sense of not being able to control anything. But I don’t have to worry as his mother about his moment of passing from death to life, because he was instantly and safely ushered into the presence of Christ. Haddon was able to look upon the face of mercy and be sick no more.
Haddon Will Rise Again
This same gentle God got us through his burial with an amazing peace. I dreaded seeing his tiny casket, but when the time came the Holy Spirit quickly reminded me he is not there, but only his body, which he suffers in no longer. He reminded me that, just as Jesus rose from the grave, so too will Haddon rise again. The weight of that peace was unlike any peace I’ve experienced in my entire life. I looked around at all the baby graves, which were many, imagining all these babies one day rising to glory. I love hearing myself say it, Haddon will rise again. It’s our hope for our little boy.
Our Eternal Joy Is Yet to Come
My aching heart is learning to believe that being a mother is not my ultimate happiness. I understand, in a way I never did before, that this world is not a place where we will feel eternal joy. When the people of God finally stand before Christ, who took the punishment for their sin, they will feel the fulfilling, eternal joy that they long to feel here on earth. God has not promised those who belong to him a quick and easy road to heaven, but he does get us there, he promises. Until then, he’s assured us he is “near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
My Greatest Need Is Taken Care Of
Through many tears and days of great sadness, we want people to know that the only reason we feel comfort in our grief is because Jesus has taken the punishment of our sin, has been raised from the dead, and has crushed death. For the Christian, death is not the end. The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes even calls death “greater than our day of birth” (Ecc. 7:1). For those who do not lean upon Jesus Christ as the great Savior from sin, death is the great entrance to eternal punishment, and their life now is the best they will ever have, because eternity after will be torment. I pray you would know this good news today and trust in Christ, the great conqueror of death.