My best friend’s baby Owen passed away last week. He lived six weeks and one day.
I remember the day I found out about Owen. It was a Wednesday in June and I had a text from Al asking me to call her. My heart beat a little faster — she either had good or bad news. It turned out to be the best news: she was pregnant! That day I bought a bottle of champagne to toast when he was to be born.
The first time I saw Allison after she announced she was pregnant was in August, on our way to a friend’s wedding in DC. I had just moved into our house and she was pregnant and we were going to see our old dear DC friends. We were so happy. I saw her again throughout the fall in Asheville, then Charlotte, then Boone and then we celebrated New Year’s together, ringing in the year of Baby Parker! My friends and I threw her a shower in January and we sent her back to Atlanta with so many presents and prayers and well wishes. Next time we would see her she would be a mom!
The days and weeks leading up to his birth were very cold. We talked on our commutes home about her maternity leave and his nursery and the ways she was trying to induce labor.
He finally arrived February 23rd around 5pm. Text messages were flying between friends announcing his arrival, and when I got home that evening I opened that bottle of champagne with J to celebrate our dears friends turning into parents.
Everything fell apart the next day.
When I got back to my desk after an afternoon of meetings, I had dozens of unread messages and missed calls on my cell and work phone. Owen had a serious heart condition and they were flying him to Egleston Children’s Hospital.
I went to see them the following weekend with my sister. We didn’t know what to do, but knew we needed to be there even if we just took care of their dog. It was heavy, but Brian and Allison were so strong. They still are so strong.
I met Owen briefly (I wasn’t supposed to be back there because of flu season, but Allison really wanted me to meet him), and I was utterly smitten. What a sweet, precious baby.
His parents have spent the last six weeks by his side, reading to him, playing music over him, telling him stories. He had countless procedures, an open heart surgery, and more work on his tiny body than most could handle in a lifetime.
He finally went to be with the Lord Monday evening.
I really thought he was going to make it. I had such faith that he would live. I have never prayed so hard for anyone or anything in my life. His name coincidentally meant “strong warrior” and I knew for sure it was a sign he would fight through and be healed. The night before he died I even had a dream that Al and I were holding babies and there was a toddler in between us playing on the floor. I woke up with a peace and certainty that the toddler was Owen and he would live.
But it wasn’t and he didn’t.
I once heard that if we knew all that God knew, then we would pray for the things to happen the way that they do. When and how in all the world could I ever wish this situation to happen?? Too much, it’s too much.
Even still, in the midst of such pain, I know that the Lord is good.
What do we know of God’s plans? How in the world can we comprehend the grand story he is writing? One of my favorite passages is at the end of Job when God finally answers. He spends three chapters going through all of the ways he is higher. He is mightier. He is smarter. He gave up his only son for us — will he not also give us every good and perfect gift?
I have to think of life sometimes like my dog. She is a sweetheart but knows nothing about this world. She has no concept of how much we know. She has no comprehension of what we do all day when we leave her at home. She doesn’t understand that the land we stand on is only a tiny portion of a large country in the midst of such a huge world. She can’t even fathom it!
We are like that with the Lord. How in the world will something this sad and hard be used for good? I have no idea, but I cannot wait to find out. Because if you allow a sweet baby boy to be taken from this world for a reason, then it better be a good one.
I don’t think we will ever know why on this earth. But I have faith that one day we will. One day we will see the big picture. We will sit at the Father’s feet and hear all of the stories of bravery and grace and redemption from the beginning of time and rejoice and celebrate the woven stories of all that has come to pass. And sitting next to me in heaven will be a little boy with a scarred chest hearing his beautiful tale.
In the meantime, we miss him and we are sad.
Please continue to pray for my friends. These are just my memories of Owen; for every one of mine, Allison and Brian have a thousand more.