Filling In the Blanks
Carter would have turned five today. I keep saying this over in my head: five, five, five.
I’m trying to wrap my brain around the idea that the 5-pound preemie I held in my arms would have been playing Tball, learning to tie his shoes, and getting excited about Kindergarten. He would have been right in rough-and-tumble, making snow forts and building wooden train tracks with his brothers.
But what’s more prevalent in my mind today are not the would-have-beens but the unknowns.
Carter’s diagnosis prevented him from life outside the womb. The information I gathered about my boy came from the 35 weeks he spent inside me, the one hour he breathed on this earth, and the not-enough moments I had just to look at him. Even after he passed away at the hospital, Ben and I spent time holding Carter, trying to study his tiny man hands, his squished nose, and his dark mess of hair.
This short time spent with my son is sacred, but I am left with a thousand more questions than answers—and that won’t change in this life.
These gaps of information often feel like Grand Canyon-sized chasms between me and my son. I carry around questions about the color of his eyes, his likes and dislikes, whether he’d have been a fellow introvert or an outgoing kid like his big brother Cohen. A mama is supposed to know these things.
But what the last five years—1,826 days—has shown me is that I can carry these questions because a bigger one has already been answered.
God filled in the blanks with His presence. I asked Him my questions. I told him my most shameful thoughts, my darkest desires. I swore. I cried. I laid before Him numb. He let me kick and scream and shout, and He stuck around.
His presence became like air. I would breathe Him in, reading the Psalms or letting silence settle my heart. Even when I’d ask my questions, my “why’s,” He didn’t unfold a four-point plan showing how He’d redeem Carter’s death. He didn’t offer BandAids for my gaping wounds. Instead He just stayed steadily by my side.
For the one thousand questions I carried, God became the answer. He was enough.
Today I still hurt over what I don’t know about Carter. It’s only natural. He’s my baby. I’m his mama, and I miss him horribly. But my many questions don’t seem so heavy because my pain is not absent of God’s presence. In Him, my unknowns are met with certainty. My scraps are met with abundance. My failings are met with love and grace. His mercies are new every morning.
I can have peace in the unknowns, because His presence will always outweigh the unanswered questions.
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.'” (Lamentations 3:22-24)