It was long past their bedtime, so the kids were all asleep when Joe and I arrived home from the hospital. Our sitter met us at the door, asking how my brother was doing.
I'll never forget the look on her face as I responded, "He died."
She ushered us into the house, motioned for me to sit on the sofa, and sat beside me, waiting to hear the story of how the events unfolded that afternoon. As I spoke, her face was filled with disbelief, care and concern.
The lights were low. It was late, although not crazy late. It was quiet. I tiptoed into the older girl's rooms and, careful not to wake them, kissed their little heads. Even the newborn was asleep, dozing in the infant swing beside us.
Before long, our sitter left to go home.
As Joe and I readied for bed, I picked up our infant daughter. She was 17 days old. We'd only learned of Jim's illness when we called to announce her arrival.
That's when life swept me off my feet.
One minute I was rejoicing in the miracle of new life; in another; I was ushering a much-too-young exit of my beloved brother from this life.
Everything felt surreal.
I cradled the baby, realizing that my time would no longer need to be split between this precious newborn and my brother. No more leaving her with my husband so I could race to the hospital. No more ignoring her while I made another heartbreaking phone call. No more listening to her cry helplessly while I picked up the pieces of my own heart.
I was all hers now.
She was the thread of hope that would carry me through a dark time in my life. Because it was about to get dark...very dark.
And yet...it was about to be the best thing that ever happened to me.
For, even though I thought He had, God never abandoned me.
Instead, He began to provide glimpses of His divine presence, like the beam of a flashlight in a dark tunnel. I would never have seen it so clearly had the tunnel not been so dark.
There was much to learn and I was just beginning.