This is a story submitted by my younger sister, my only sister. It is a story only she can tell, as only she knows what it has been like to be her – the little sister, watching a nightmare descend upon her big sister and envelop an entire family. She tells it well, for she tells of a miracle that has been given to our family: my precious niece, Anna Darby.
A Miraculous Birth
This is how God has shown His love for me, Sara’s younger sister, over the course of her unfinished story.
I remember getting the dreaded phone call on the morning of December 6th, 2010. I, who have always admired my older sister and so followed her footsteps into the career of Physical Therapy, was working with a patient in the hospital where I’m employed when my phone rang. Seeing that it was my father on the line, I had the suspicion that I needed to answer this call.
I will never forget his words, words that were said through a quiet and cracking voice in obvious pain and agony. “Dinah. It’s Dad. Sara lost Anna this morning.” That’s all he was able to say. By God’s grace, I was able to keep my composure long enough to respectfully excuse myself from the patient’s hospital room and make it back to my office, where I sobbed for several minutes. After crying out to the Lord with questions of Why and How could He have let this happen, my mind suddenly shifted toward this consuming thought: Is Sara ok? I began to be concerned for her physical well being. Over the course of the month that followed between her losing Anna and her cancer diagnosis, I had this overwhelming worry that losing Anna was not the end of this nightmare.
So, on December 6th, I began my prayer that continues to this day for Sara’s health to be restored. I now know without a doubt that God let me know that day what was going to transpire over the next several months. No, I didn’t know the details, but I knew I needed to daily commune with my Heavenly Father and beg for my sister’s physical healing.
In regard to losing that precious baby: Sara has not mentioned just how special her Anna was and still is to Sara’s parents and siblings. Oh how excited we all were for her arrival!!! You see, my parents had been blessed with four beautiful grandchildren: all BOYS! Nana and Papa love their boys, and Anna was to be the first baby girl. We would get together as an entire family and laugh about how sweet little Anna was going to have her hands full with those wild boys. You could see the joy on our faces each time we talked of our anticipation of Anna. When Anna was taken Home to God that fateful day, my soul was broken and I was devastated.
I called Sara later that day, just before they were heading to the hospital to deliver Anna.
“Sara, I’m on my way. All you have to do is say ‘Go.'”
I never imagined what I would hear from the other end of the line… “Dinah, I don’t want you to come. Brian and I need to be alone to process what has occurred.” And because I love Sara with all of my heart, I stayed home.
I never got to see my niece in person.
I never got to hold her and tell her how much I loved her even though she never breathed a single breath on this earth.
I never got to tell her goodbye.
I grieved for a long time over those three statements above, but kept that grief to myself. It seemed so selfish to me, during Sara’s trial, to let others know how I grieved.
And so a new and different prayer began…
“Oh Lord, how can You help me accept this burden, deal with it, and somehow honor You and honor Anna?”
I prayed this prayer daily.
This is how God showed His Love and answered my pleas.
I had begun running in October, 2010, in an attempt to lose the weight from my first pregnancy earlier that year. By January 2011, was hooked on running, and I was training for my first half marathon in April. My time spent while running was devoted to prayer and I had many long conversations with my Lord. I had dedicated this first race to Sara, who loves running and wasn’t able to do so at that time. This race was for her and I often told myself on those long distance training days: If Sara can beat stage IV colon cancer, I can run a few more miles!
During my months of training from October until January, I lost a lot of weight and began having potential fertility issues. So, I sought medical attention in late January 2011. Bloodwork did not reveal any significant hormonal problems, and I was put on a medication to help regulate my cycle. My OB told me that I would most likely need assistance for fertility in the future when my husband and I decided to have a second child. At that time, I had a 9 month old baby boy. I was in no hurry to have another child anytime soon.
I took the medication given to me for only a few months, deciding to stop on my own due to unwanted side effects. My plan was to not worry about my current infertility and trust God’s timing whenever my husband and I decided to expand our family. And we didn’t plan to expand our family for several months down the road.
So, I continued my training, and ran my first half marathon in April 2011. No, I didn’t finish in the time I wanted and it wasn’t the most enjoyable race for me. I just didn’t feel right…but I finished! And Sara cheered me on the sidelines which was my motivation to finish.
During the next week, I still did not feel well. Something (now I believe Someone) told me in my mind that I might be pregnant. I thought to myself, “It’s not possible for me to get pregnant.” Reluctantly, and with full assurance that it wasn’t so, that it couldn’t be so, I took a pregnancy test.
Those were the longest three minutes of my life…
When I saw the results, I dropped to my knees on the cold bathroom floor and the tears flowed uncontrollably. So many questions raced through my mind. How can this be? What am I to do with a newborn and a 20 month old? Can I do this???
Then my mind immediately shifted to: Please, Lord, don’t let this one slip from our hands!
After those words escaped my lips, I had an overwhelming sense of peace. I knew this was a girl and she would allow me, allow my family, to honor Anna.
Sara was the first to know that the US four months later showed our baby GIRL.
Sara was the first to know that, if Sara gave her blessing, our daughter would be named Anna “Darby”
But, only God knew that I would go into labor one month before my due date, on DECEMBER 6th 2011: exactly one year after our sweet Anna went Home. Darby shares her cousin’s name, but her birthday is December 7th, and she was born only 22 minutes into that day. I trust that God separated their birthdays for a reason.
When I look at my daughter’s face, I remember Anna. I tell Darby often about her cousin that shares her name and that we all will get to see Anna again in heaven. Oh, how I look forward to telling Darby the story of her birth and how she, Anna Darby, was our gift from God when our entire family grieved.
God answered my prayers after Anna died: my prayer to have some way to honor Anna after her death. I never knew He would answer it in this way. His ways are perfect. His timing is perfect. Sara’s unfinished story is perfect and I am excited to see how He will finish her story.
God is Good and His love endures forever!