The following article by David Strange was originally published on 1 Jan 2014.
This being New Year's Day, please allow the telling of a personal memory, tragic though it might be.
One of the most traumatic events for my wife and I happened on New Year's Eve, 1975. And because of it, New Year's has never been the same.
By 1975, Bonnie and I had been married for a few years, and we began hoping for a "Bicentennial Baby". That is, a baby born in 1976, on the 200th anniversary of our country. It was sort of a big thing in the country at the time, with special colorful birth certificates and everything. You see, I have always been a history buff.
And sure enough, we found ourselves expecting our first child, due in February 1976.
Everything went along fine at first. We started buying furniture and clothes and decorating a nursery as pretty as we could afford. We discussed names, and decided if it was a boy we would name him Christopher.
Life was good.
Then suddenly, on New Year's Eve, Bonnie felt something was wrong and we went to the hospital. The outlook quickly degenerated from worrisome to bleak to horrible. The doctor said simply that something had gone wrong with the baby and "he" had died. Bonnie had been distraught, and in much pain, so the doctor administered, as was common at the time, some heavy medication, and she drifted in and out of consciousness.
As I sat there alone in a little room next to her, lying in bed, we could hear the nurses talking in the hallway outside our door. It was 12:01 a.m., New Year's morning 1976, and the nurses were excitedly discussing which hospital had the first "Bicentennial Baby".
"Christopher" was not to be one of them.
With Bonnie asleep from the medication, I walked out to the waiting room, where, as I remember it, my parents and Bonnie's mother were anxiously sitting, wishing they could do something to ease our loss, and deeply feeling the loss themselves. But of course, there was nothing that could be done. I held my mother and wept bitterly on her shoulder.
And then something happened that affected me greatly, and stays with me to this day.
I realized there was another person in the room. An elderly woman sitting and watching me.
She started speaking, lovingly, gently, and barely holding back tears, "Forgive me young man, but I see how sad you are at your loss, and I feel I need to tell you this story: When I was a young woman, it looked like I was going to lose my first child at birth. I prayed and prayed and begged God to please let my boy live. And so he did live. But my boy was a devil from the start. He became a nightmare to our family, and right now, this day, he is in prison for crimes I am ashamed to speak of. So I say to you son, as sad as you are now, know that God knows what He is doing. As bad as things seem right now, perhaps things could have been worse."
I never did really know who that woman was. I think she might have been there for a daughter who was giving birth. But as time goes by, I more and more see her as an angel, sent to give me comfort and insight that perhaps would only work for me at that moment in time.
God bless her. For I have ever since had a bit more understanding that God's will might look awful to us sometimes, but it is always for the best. Perhaps you disagree, but allow me the thought. There is an old Zen quote as well, that I learned many years later along a similar line, about things that we think are good might be bad, and what we think are bad, might be good. It is often titled, "We'll See."
That thought helped me when I had to go home alone to put away Christopher's nursery before bringing Bonnie back from the hospital. And that experience has colored my thoughts, dreams, and actions ever since.
With the loss of our first child, Bonnie and I soon agreed it was a good time for a change. We decided that maybe it was time to move from our little city house to something better, and almost at that instant a neighbor called us, commented about how he and his wife really liked our house, and asked if we had ever considered selling. We started looking around and pretty quickly built a house and moved to our Peaceful Valley home where we live to this day.
Oh, and we did have a bicentennial baby! Our daughter was born in December, 1976; the same day as the concrete floor was being poured for the basement of our new home. A couple of years later, a wonderful son arrived.
And so, time moved on. New Year followed New Year and new memories were added to the old; each year making its own subtle changes in us all, almost imperceptibly adding up to what we are today. Grand-children now play in the yard where my children once learned to walk.
Life is good.
There will always be one special New Year's Day that will always be in my memory, coloring everything else that I see and do.
Memories do that, you see. The key is in how we choose to use them.
Happy New Year, my friends.
Copyright 2014 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.