This time six years ago we heard Nathanael’s heartbeat for the last time. Even though we knew it would probably be the last time we’d hear his b-bumm, b-bumm, we really had no idea how much it would affect us.
At school, I meet with three precious ones the same age as Nathanael would be. We spend just a few minutes together, and it’s all about me enquiring how they’re going... “What are you excited about... tell me about a favourite toy... what are you looking forward to... is there anything concerning you?”
You would think this would make me sad. It doesn’t. It makes me wonder just how precious life is. Like when I met a colleague and she just opens up immediately, deep as a submarine plunging to the ocean floor — our collective gaze is on the eternal in suffering as we suffer together, as we join our losses together and agree to smile with tears rolling down our cheeks. I may not be actually crying, but my soul cries with hers.
The depths of grief connect us in way that nothing else can. Having thought for those nearly 2,192 days since Nathanael passed leaves me with so many opportunities to grieve him well, to connect with others in their grief, to embrace my wife, for if we have been to hell and back together nothing will tear us apart.
Journeys like this bond us in ways that transform us in indescribable ways. There is nothing like the depths of experience that embodies suffering, because the compensation is so fundamentally and indelibly worth it — if we’re not afraid of the pain. It is a privilege to suffer because Jesus shows us that which we wouldn’t have otherwise; God’s glimpse of the ethereal in this most tangible world.
The fact that we still pine to hear Nathanael’s heartbeat, that we’re thankful we videoed it, that we’re touched so deeply that we miss him, that we look forward to seeing him when God calls us home, that we feel all sorts of emotions all at once. All these experiences together prove how wonderfully mysterious and cavernously lonely loss is.
Would we choose it? Never! Does God make something of it. Of course!
Can we ever reconcile loss? I don’t think we can! Is the purpose in loss deeper than life itself? Yes, indeed!
Whatever it is, we still miss the sound of his heartbeat!