And They Worshiped


Steadily the water dripped into the sink below, each drop echoing the thundering of my heart. Squatting and standing. Standing then squatting. In comfortable silence we waited. No words for this moment could be found. “Does it usually take this long?”, I asked. “It depends. They already have her on her back. I don’t know why they won’t let us in now.” Worried words spoke of weighty thoughts. The doors opened and we were ushered in. I struggled to tuck my phone into my back pocket and zip up my blue paper jumper as I entered.

Covered faces with exposed eyes all around us. All of us the same in that moment.
My friend’s gaze met her husband’s. He sat in the chair next to her. A set of kind eyes directed me to a stool beside him.

Silence from the three of us. Murmuring voices all around us. The smell of burning flesh. The sound of tubes sucking up fluid.
A nurse with a blanket appeared. She held it out. Another person placed a tiny body inside of it.

No noise.
No crying. No hurried movements to clear out airways and bring warmth to flesh startled with the newness of life.

No miracle today.

Wrapped in two blankets, she was placed in her daddy’s arms. He turned her miniature, porcelain doll face to her mother.  For a moment, we were all as breathless as she as we soaked in the slightness of her frame.
Ten delicate fingers and ten delicate toes. Her daddy’s ears. Her sister’s nose. Her biggest brother’s lips. Her mommy’s chin. Her other brother’s toes.
Perfection, she was. Fully formed, yet not quite enough.

I held her in my arms moments later. 1 pound 9 ounces has never weighed so much.

Sweet Maelee Ann was born at 25 weeks gestation.

We waited in recovery for 15 minutes. A nurse was there. She had no idea.
Stunned she stood as a broken father spoke words no one wants to utter: “She’s gone”.
“But…but she was fine?”  The words poured out like a terrible question to which the answer has already been given.
A few seconds, some rapid steps forward, and he was standing, slumped over, weeping on the shoulder of a nurse turned friend.
They wheeled in his wife, my friend.
The chaplain entered. “I’m so sorry,” he spoke in a near whisper.  Genuine sorrow rested on his face. Awkwardness too. Nearly speechless at such a heavy moment.
We were taken back into the room where my friends had spent the past several weeks.  A nurse, attempting not to sob and failing, brought in their little bundle of lifeless joy.

A few minutes later, mom in bed and dad beside, with arms around each other and tiny body in between, they wept as the music played:

Blessed be Your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

And blessed be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
And when the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say, Lord
Blessed be Your name, Lord

They worshiped. Dead baby in arms, hope for her future dead with her. And they worshiped. They wept, but they praised. Broken hearts poured out gratefulness for this moment, this wrecked and ragged moment. Debilitating sorrow, gut-wrenching agony.

And they worshiped.

One of the greatest privileges of my life was to have been there with her parents when Maelee was born; to have celebrated her existence and mourned the life she would never live with them; to have held her tiny frame, stroked her dark hair, and kissed her rounded cheeks; to have said hello and good bye at the same moment; to have sat quietly in a corner and watched “the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” lived out in the midst of profound loss.

Watching her parents grieve over her in that moment was a tangible expression of the very real way God grieved the loss of the Son He willingly gave up for me and of the very real way God loves me.  Because of Maelee, I think of another baby who also weighed more than his infant body displayed. Because of Maelee, I think of Jesus, and I worship.

 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
you have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my heart may sing your praise and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” -Psalm 30:11-12

5 thoughts on “And They Worshiped

Add yours

  1. You are amazing! And you serve a really, big God. Stay in the word because he’s talking to YOU and he loves YOU more than anyone else loves you.


  2. We are so much praying for you and your family Ashley. Thanks for sharing with us. We love you and Jesse. God bless you. Melanie and Steve Saubert. God is so good!!


  3. Utterly divine! Your writing seems to transcend to another dimension… a dimension free of pain, guilt, hurt and full of love, hope and beauty. God bless you. I pray for Jesse’s healing every night. He’s blessed to have you as his soulmate.


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