Yesterday, my dear old friend Lauren and I went for ride. We rode down I-85 to South Carolina and spent some time with a college friend of hers. She had given birth to a teeny,tiny, baby girl and since that day well over 2 months ago, has kept a vigil beside her little bed in the NICU. Such a tiny little thing, even now, nearly at her due date, she is small enough to fit in one of my hands. The day she was born, her little fingers were like threads and everyone held their breath, feeling like even too forceful of an exhale may blow out this little Ember of a light that flickered.
My friend Lauren is no stranger to a NICU. Her baby boy was in one for 8 weeks and she maneuvered the tricky slope of fear, anger, helplessness and finally trust. But today is “not about me” she tells me as we talk about those days 5 years ago. Or is it? Because I’m pretty sure I would not be here, in this place today, a Wednesday afternoon at 5 o’ clock were it not for Lauren. Somehow she can feel the anxiety that I see on the face of this mom. She takes a deep breath and remembers the bone weary fatigue that lays heavy on the shoulders of this friend. So maybe, it is about her in some ways, but I don’t tell her that because some things don’t always need to be shared.
I listen to this mom that I hardly know tell me the story of her delivery, of the scary moments and the ones since. She shows me pictures of this tiny thing and laughs and says “This is when she looked like ET”. I smile and in my mind I agree, partially marveling at the wonder of how something so tiny and so fragile could live and partially agreeing with her mom. But I just nod, because some things don’t always need to be shared.
I decide after a while into our visit, that these two women are members of some sort of brave tribe to which I, thankfully, have not been invited. I see the unspoken words pass between them and part of me wants to grab them both in a vicious hug and assure them that everything is going to turn out perfectly. I want to pull that sweet baby out of her isolet and put her in her mama’s arms and drive them home. Because babies need mamas and not much else. But instead I just swallow and say something trivial because what is in my heart I cannot say. Some things don’t always need to be shared.
I pray for this little love as she lies there, all pink with a fluff of blondish brown hair peeking from under the knit cap we bring her. She squirms and stretches and lets out a little cry as we ask God to strengthen her and raise her up. Her mom is tired and sick of this place. I want to take her hands and tell her something profound like “God has plans to prosper her” or “God is going to do something mighty with this baby girl” but instead I just smile at her mom and say “I’m praying for her”, because everything I really want to say I don’t….not now…. not here. I tell the mom that I will pray for her and her seven other littles at home. We pray for strength and for faith. I know in my heart that this is all part of a bigger plan, that God is actively at work even when it seems He is cruelly silent. I have a feeling even now he is working, working in this mama’s heart. But I don’t say that to her mama. Not today. Some things don’t always need to be shared.
Lauren and I talk all the way home down I-85. We share what God is teaching us. What He has called us to share and what He wants us to keep tucked inside our spirits for now. We talk about the “greater thing” God is working out for the mama and her baby and we agree that indeed, this is a chapter in a beautiful story He is authoring called life. I watch my friend as she tells me of her little boy who once struggled in a NICU but now splashes on the steps of the pool and laughs and runs and knows more about dinosaurs than I ever will. I wonder in my heart, “Why were my girls healthy and theirs were not? I wonder why faith is difficult to come by in some stretches of life and flows freely in others?”
I don’t ask Lauren. I know what she will say. She will say “I have no idea, but I guess that’s why they call it faith. Some things, even by God to us, don’t always need to be shared.