She said, “A mother and child live the first great love story and there is no love story without loss, and this is always gain.” This was her description of relinquishing her 16 year old son to the initial stages of his adulthood journey. Certainly that is not my current reality! But it stopped me in my tracks. “There is no love story without loss.” In the first great love story, God the Father “turned His face away”, as Townend’s hymn describes, as His only Son bore the wrath we all deserved on the cross. God the Father experienced the loss of a child, His only child: He let Him go — even as He knew He would receive Him back, He let Him go.
I have heard it in all the great stories of parenthood — the theme of letting go. But here at my beginnings, I have not yet experienced its heart-wrenching power. Though it is of course the long-term goal, there simply is no empty nest or college tuition in my current line of vision.
And yet, her words took away my breath. For, in another way, this letting go part of parenting is very much present in my reality.
I am learning to let go of my sweet 2017 babies.
It is a paradox, like viewing a bright star from the periphery of your vision: somehow, I must hold onto and remember with all my might that I carried my babies with me, for their ever-so-short earthly life. And then, I must find a way to let them go.
For although they have gone too soon, they are not gone forever — they are waiting at the finish line, and that is the safest place in the world for them.
There is a sweet and tender mercy in learning to let them go now:
In my letting go, I do not have to worry if they will make it to Jesus with full faith — they are already there, shielded in His perfect grace.
In my letting go, I do not have to painstakingly endure their mistakes and troubles along the way, for they have already crossed over the greatest threshold.
In my letting go, I never have to worry about how my failures have harmed them, for they are securely set within Christ’s own perfections.
And the same speed at which time seems to progress applies either way, for even as I wonder how the years have already passed so quickly by with my two precious living children, I can trust that equally so, I will so very soon, sooner than I can ever imagine, be with my babies once more in heaven. “For with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” (2 Peter 3:8).
And so, tonight, as I approach the Remembrance of All Our Lost Babies Ceremony happening at our church this Sunday, I am reminded that in grieving, we are also letting go. And there is a sweet comfort to me in knowing that even though my empty nest has begun in part prematurely, I am not alone as a mother, in this letting go, and I can follow suit of all loving mothers who have gone before me, in learning to let go of my children, fully and completely entrusting them at last to their Creator.