Graceful Arms

 

photo courtesy of photobucket.com

I was drawn to the look on her face, the wide-eyed sense of awe she displayed as she looked down at the newborn in her lap. Her little body took on the stillness of a statue, yet she emanated a softness from her limbs, two limbs which carefully framed this new life lying across her legs. I couldn’t stop looking at her face, the creamy porcelain skin and gentle smile framed by a bob of strawberry-blonde hair.

As her older brother came near, she whispered protectively, “You can’t touch her face,” and her arms gracefully outlined the baby as a ballerina who curves her arms in the gentlest of form, cushioning the baby’s head with tender, extended fingertips that didn’t quite touch this infant’s skin. It was as if the space between her arms and the baby’s body was filled with fluffy clouds and pillows, this special barrier enough to protect from the two-year-old now climbing on the couch to take a peek.

I wanted to capture this beautiful image forever but fought the impulse to use my phone as a camera, lest the moment be ruined by calling attention to it. So instead, I marveled at the instinct of my not-quite four-year-old and how a new life pulled a tenderness, a stillness, an impulse for reverence from her spirit. And I breathed in the fragility of life, this precious new life and the one not much older who recognized it.

Five days later, I watched a friend weary from grief hold her son while she sang praises to the God who took her husband home. And again, I was reminded of this fragility each of our bodies carries. Our bodies, these weak, imperfect vessels, not promised a tomorrow. Our hearts, not immune to the deep ache of suffering, left feeling raw and bruised so many times along the journey.

I sat in the car on our drive home, and I felt this ache in my own heart, a pain that I knew wouldn’t dull quickly, thoughts of my friends filling my mind. But I looked out the window over the rail on the interstate at the mountains of Tennessee, these rolling hills, and I was reminded that the strong arms that reached down and made these were also gentle enough to hold them.

Throughout the last few days I had seen how Wendy was held. Friends who had accompanied her every step of this difficult journey, friends who made meals or sat around her kitchen table, friends who offered bedrooms to her family or coordinated the cleaning of her house, friends who extended their graceful arms and cradled her head.

I felt graceful arms days later in a gentle breeze against a hot, dry Georgia afternoon, lifting up our heads, tousling our hair as we listened to the preacher pray in front of the casket.  These gentle arms that understood the fragility of all our lives, offering a small blessing in the midst of our grief.

That night as I looked out on the green hills from the window of our van, I felt a profound tiredness. When we pulled into our driveway after midnight, we made our way into the house from the dark and thanked Matt’s parents for watching the kids. We spoke little as we made our way up the stairs and quickly dressed for bed. And that night as we lay under the covers, we held each other a little tighter than normal, resting in each others’ arms, knowing that we could never take these fragile lives for granted.

For those who had been following or are interested in Wendy’s journey, click here to read her final post. Her raw honesty is so beautiful and touching. Thank you for your prayers these last few days. I will update my sidebar (finally) in the next couple of days, and Wendy’s post will appear there, as well.

 

8 thoughts on “Graceful Arms

  1. Oh.My.Goodness. Jennifer – this is masterful. And Wendy's final post? Just amazing. God's grace is amazing and pervasive, even in the pain of this loss. Thank you so much for your words and for directing me to hers. Love and prayers and blessings this night and throughout the days ahead as you continue to be one of God's ministers in her life.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments regarding my post. That image of my daughter stuck with me, and it seemed perfect to describe Wendy and her wonderful church supporting her. Her church truly understands what it means to be the Body of Christ. Isn't Wendy's writing amazing? I'm continually in awe of her talent. Thank you, also, for sending me that link. I do not already follow that blog, so I'm going to head over that way now and take a look and forward on to Wendy. Thank you, again, for your kind words and prayers.

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  2. I haven't stopped thinking about Emmett. I held my husband tightly that night. My prayers are with Wendy often these days. Thank you for continuing to share her story.

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