March 6, 2019 | By Ali Robinson | Friends and Family
I remember growing up, my sister had a strong hatred for school. So much to the point that, when she finally stopped escaping from her kindergarten class and running down open streets to find our childhood home, she was awarded “Most Improved Student”. My mom’s best friend at the time was named Barb. First of all-her name just seemed to have a “I take no nonsense” vibe. My mom and Barb would alternate weeks of driving my sisters and Barb’s daughter to school. This would seem like an easy task, but for my runaway sister, this was quite the operation, and so Barb was chosen. I can remember being one of the “non-runaway” sisters in the back of the minivan, ready for Mom to bring little sis out and in one foul swoop, Mom would throw her in the car, close the door, and I would have to hit down the 1990’s manual locks as she smeared her crying face and tiny hands against the window. I know, it is so pitiful, but let’s not forget about her redeeming award won a few months later. Thinking of this small feat of my mother’s from my childhood, and having glimpses of numerous softball games, sleepovers, and major attitude problems, it is so clear to me that raising a child definitely takes a village. What if that child isn’t here, though? What happens to the parent who is still a Mom or a Dad and their baby isn’t here? I can attest to the fact that the village is more necessary than ever in such a tragedy.
When Brooks passed away, my dear friend drove over to my house before we even got home, and with her own broken heart for Brooks, put all of our unopened baby gifts, the ready to use bottles and sippy cups, and countless ultrasound pictures in the nursery for us and closed the door. It’s not that she wanted to hide it all, but she knew our hearts couldn’t take coming home without Brooks, much less all the reminders everywhere we looked. She set up a meal train, and for weeks, dozens of people would send or bring us dinner.
There were times when we were silent, times we couldn’t answer our phones. One afternoon I was a little too silent, and a sweet friend texted that she was on her way. She knew she was needed, and even if it means just sitting still, your village will show up. If your heart is broken and your door bell rings, I encourage you to answer no matter how much you don’t want to. Being broken is the perfect time to let your village in, even if you have no words to say.
Every village has leaders, and my sisters definitely led our village. They texted updates that we couldn’t bear to send out, and they held our family close as they watched us crumbling. A village isn’t needed just the day or month that you lose your baby. Over time, you will see that your friends might change, and it will be hard for people to find the right thing to do or say. Maybe acts of love will come through gifts or visits where you don’t talk too much about what happened, and that’s ok. Maybe the most beneficial gesture will be someone sending you daily Bible devos that will later prove to be your consistent hope. What is most important is that you keep your heart open to your village, and one day you will be able to comfort others as you have been comforted.
I wish I could name every sweet servant who makes up our village and the endless love we were shown, but I am certain I wasn’t even made aware of some of it. What I do know is that painful obstacles were blocked many times, and no one knows who you are or what you did for us during our hardest time. Maybe you held back your own joy of a new baby and posted less pictures because your heart broke for ours. Maybe you helped with poems honoring our son, or donated money for teddy bears to be given in his name. Whatever you did, big or small, it was felt and truly appreciated.
If you know someone who is heartbroken from the loss of a child, I encourage you to be in their village. It is a hurt that seems hard to understand, but just showing up will mean the world. You don’t have to come up with the right words or prepare the perfect meal to drop off. You just have to remember their baby, and be there. Our village continues to be understanding and with the prayers of so many people, we have survived something we never thought we could. God gives us friends for a reason, and I truly believe He spoke and comforted us through our village.