It should have been a happy time. After years of abuse, neglect, and nightmares, I had met the man I knew was meant for me, and we were having a baby. Though I had two other deeply-loved children, this was my first baby conceived in love. I was the happiest I’d ever been. We were about to bring a little girl into the world and I thought all the darkness was behind me.
Early one morning I awoke in labor. It was a few weeks early, but I wasn’t worried since my older girls were early. At the hospital, the doctors couldn’t stop the hard and fast labor. I was to have a c-section, but there was no time. The baby was coming.
I clearly remember her birth. In spite of never having had a vaginal delivery it didn’t take much effort for her to be born. I remember seeing her little hands and feet moving and hearing the doctors and nurses talking to my husband. I was bleeding badly, so they gave me a sleeping aid.
When the neonatologist woke me, I expected to hear that she was on oxygen since she was early. What he said were words I never in my worst nightmares expected to hear. He quietly said; “Mrs. Clarke, I am so sorry. We did everything we could. She fought hard for a half an hour, but she was unable to breathe. I am so sorry, but we lost her.”
It felt like someone was punching me. I couldn’t catch my breath, and I struggled to even scream. My husband was in the waiting room explaining to my young daughter that the baby had died when the nurse ran out and said I needed him. I wanted him to tell me it was all a mistake, that our baby was fine. But when I saw his face I knew the truth. He held me and we cried.
The nurses brought our little girl to me and laid her in my arms. She was beautiful. Her tiny head was covered with dark ringlets framing pudgy round cheeks and rosebud lips. I bathed and dressed her, brushed her satiny curls, and wrapped her in a pink blanket. I held her for a long time. She was flawlessly formed. Nothing made sense.
That night, I called the nurse and asked to hold Olivia again. I went into the next room so I wouldn’t wake my husband. I rocked and cried, thinking about the story of Lazarus and of the little girl that Jesus brought back. I rocked my baby pleading, bargaining with God to bring my baby back. In spite of my pleas, my baby was gone.
The joy and anticipation just hours before were replaced by confusion, anger, deep mourning, and sadness—and even hatred. I felt as if God had betrayed me, was punishing me for things I had done in my past. I yelled and screamed at Him, cursed, and even said I hated and despised him. I just wanted my little girl back.
I slipped into a deep, dark depression and closed out everyone except my children. I wanted to end it all and go to be with Olivia, but I knew I couldn’t abandon my young daughter. I poured my anguish onto my pillow and into the darkness and out through the pages of my journal.
One night I had a dream where I awoke and sitting next to me was the pastor I had loved and trusted but who had passed away the year before. He told me it was all going to be okay, and that when it was time I would have another child–but that I needed to be strong, pull myself and my life together, and take my young daughter back to church and return to life.
I awoke the next morning and for the first time since I had buried Olivia, I felt alive. It may sound crazy, but I know Pastor Scott in my dream was God reaching out to me. Things have been rough. But I know that God is there, and that it really will all somehow be okay in the end.
Shea Clarke was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and after a 10-year detour in Boston now lives in Aiken, South Carolina. Having left behind a life that had played out like a bad Lifetime movie filled with addiction, abuse, and depression, Shea has now been happily married for the past six years to her very own Prince George. She jokes that he was worth the wait after sorting through a great number of toads. Shea is Mom to Kayla (26) and Marygrace (16)–her princesses here on earth–as well as Olivia (b/d 6-23-07) and Alessia (born still 11-13-08)–her Angel Babies in Heaven. She is also Grandma to perfect little Lorelei, who doesn’t allow Autism to get in her way. A dedicated canine rescuer, Shea highly esteems all of God’s creatures and loves bringing hope to the hurting.
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20 thoughts on “The God Who Never Left Me”
Wow! The paragraph about the pastor gave me chills. I believe that was actually God speaking to you through his image. It’s such a joy knowing that no matter what we go through or how down in the valley we are, God is right there with us.
I totally believe that it was God too Carolyn…..It’s so awesome the ways that God can reach out and touch us….
I simply cannot fathom the loss. Thank you Shea for allowing us into the deep recesses of your heart. More than that, thank you for allowing God to comfort, nurture, and transform that pain as only He can. He surely is with us, never leaving us. Your story is a powerful testament to that!
Thank you Jo Ann, I thought I had felt pain and had been though some horrific and devastating events in my life…but none of it can even graze the surface of what it was like to bury that little girl. This is probably going to sound odd, but only recently, after four and a half years, when I am happy and enjoying myself, when I laugh and can hear myself laughing, it’s actually my own voice again…it’s not detached. Does that make sense? I had closed down so far and so deep, that when I would do something as normal and simple and laugh, it was forced and mechanical and wasn’t me. It’s only by God’s hand that I am still here right now…he kept me from harm. I truly owe him my life.
My heart goes out to you Shea. I can’t imagine the pain of loosing a child.
Dear Shea, You wrote this so beautifully, thank you for sharing your expierience with so many others. I am sure that your angles are proud of you too!
I felt every word you shared about your loss in my heart, and know all to well those feelings. I thank you for sharing your experience I pray your story encourages other women. He will never leave you nor forsake you and He’s true to His Word. God bless!
What a beautiful outpouring of a very real heart, Shea. Thank you for your transparency, for giving us a glimpse into your pain and the Source of your healing. I am praying for you on your journey to understanding as you lean into Him for comfort and peace in the storm. I love you, dear friend.
Thank you Lisa, My Boo…..
I couldn’t be here doing this without you.
As your friend, I’m just saying I’m so proud of you! You’re an amazing woman and I love how you are sharing your story. I continue to pray for you, dear friend!
Awwwww, thank you Jennifer.
You’re making me blush. 🙂 LOL
Your story touched my heart…I can’t fathom your loss. Your courage and strength is inspiring!
You have got to be one of the strongest women I know. I am proud to call you friend.
You are such a brilliant writer mom, and such a strong person I love you so much, this put me in tears for obvious reasons. Olivia was so beautiful and perfect I love my baby sister so much. Even though she is not here with us she is always going to be with me, in my heart and mind and I know it is the same with you. You are so strong and such a good mom. Thank you for being there for me. I love you. Keep writing. 🙂 ♥
Thank you Anita.
Because of what you went through with Kynzer I know you know the fear of the “what if’s” just as I did with Marygrace when we were going the Preemie Dance. Thankfully we both had a positive outcome with our preemies….it just wasn’t meant to be for my sweet Olivia. It is something that I don’t know if I will ever understand why. I just have to hold on to the thought that someday I will get to hold her, and that right now she is up there being spoiled by George’s Mom in Heaven….that’s what gets me through the day and keeps me sane. 🙂
Awwwwww, Thank you Jill. 🙂
I hope that they are.
Thank you Althea.
I take from your comment, that you have also lost a child…..if my assumption is correct, I am so sorry. ((hugs))…this is a club that I wish I belonged too that i could bar all other members from joining. It is not a fun club to be a member of at all. It has taken me some time for bitterness and anger to realize that the lord is indeed here, but, yes, I do see that now. I had to stumble in the dark a bit, but I see the light now. 🙂
Thank you Kate,
I just hope that maybe sharing the story of losing Olivia may be a help top someone else.
I can actually talk about her now without breaking down, so we are making huge progress. 🙂
Kelly…I feel the same way about you cause…. Chica, somos compañeros totales en el bebé de delito
Marygrace Elizabeth……you have and will always be “My Dream Come True” I love you baby girl and I don’t know what I would have done without you since we lost your sister. I know I may not always show it enough, but you and KK are my entire world. I love you.