On Saturday morning I drove up to Atlanta to attend Hallie Green’s memorial service. It was the second time in less than three years that I’ve attended a memorial for a baby under three months old. That doesn’t seem possible, doesn’t seem like it could happen to one of my friends…let alone two of them. But it has, and so I was there.
There are no words to describe Chris and Katie Green. To say I’m in awe of them is not nearly saying enough. During the service one of the speakers told us to really think about how Hallie impacted our lives. I’ve been thinking about that a lot these past couple days. Hallie made me realize I need to grow up. That I am far, far from the Christian woman I want to be. That God wants me to be. That my husband and children need me to be.
When I first learned of Hallie’s diagnosis I was about 15 weeks pregnant with Brittlynn. It terrified me. Katie and Chris have two perfect healthy girls…how could baby #3 have something so horribly wrong? Selfishly I prayed over and over and over “please not me, not my baby too.” I lived in constant fear for the maturity of my pregnancy. It seems that every single friend I have had been touched by tragedy in some way with their babies. I already had a wonderfully healthy son, surely baby #2 would have to have something go wrong right??? It really tested my faith and I believe it was the devil himself trying to make me stray from God. On the day I broke down and blogged about it (you can read the entry here), guess who was one of the first people to contact me? Katie Green. She texted me saying I was in her prayers. Are you kidding me?!?! Here she is a few weeks into finding out that her unborn baby has a rare disorder and will not live, maybe not even live until birth, and she is reaching out to me?!?! That small gesture from her made me say WOW. Would I have done that? Heck no! If I were in her shoes I would be all about me. All about my pain and my hurt and my need for prayers…I surely wouldn’t be “wasting” my prayer time praying about some girl with a perfectly healthy pregnancy who was just a little scared.
Hallie was born about two weeks after Brittlynn. When I, like all of you, read Katie and Chris’s blog entries and facebook posts, I was surprised that they had so much of their family with them during Hallie’s life. Again, I thought about myself. What would I do? If I knew my baby would not be on this earth very long I would be selfish with her. I wouldn’t want everyone there. I’d want to keep her all to myself and not share her with anyone. Not “waste” one precious second that I could be holding her letting someone else have her. Soon after Hallie passed away, Katie wrote me an email. Asking me what kind of gift card we’d like her to send us for a meal. Um, again…are you kidding me?!?! I should be the one asking her that question. Not the other way around. How, in her pain and grief did she even think about me and want to do something to help us out?
I was very undecided about going to the service. Typically when my friends go through tough spots I do whatever I can to help, but in this situation I felt awkward. Uncomfortable to reach out to them. Surely, they wouldn’t want me to be there. Surely, they wouldn’t want help from me. All I would do is remind them of the healthy baby girl they didn’t have. I would secretly hate me. I’d think “Why does she get the healthy baby and I don’t? Why does she get to watch her child grow up and I don’t? What makes her so special to not know this pain?” Even at the service I felt a little strange being there and wasn’t sure if I should wait in the line to hug them. Wouldn’t I be a painful reminder? I can’t relate at all to what they are feeling or going through, what good can I bring to their situation?
Again, Katie and Chris surprised me. Again, they left me speechless. As I got closer to Katie in the line our eyes met and her face lit up. She hugged me and thanked me repeatedly for coming. Not an empty thank you, but an honest, I mean it, thank you. I have only met her in real life once. ONCE. And it meant that much to her that I was there? I hadn’t even planned on “wasting” Chris’s time saying hello but Katie told me to be sure to see him and when I did HE was genuinely happy to see me. He also genuinely thanked me. Really???
The service was beautiful. Seeing Farrah sing “happy birthday” to her little sister is an image I will never forget. Seeing Katie’s eyes filled with nothing but love as she spoke about Hallie. Hearing Chris talk about fatherhood and how Hallie’s life taught him what the love of God really is. Hearing the beautiful songs, especially the one written by Chris himself. Hallie was only here on this earth for less than 5 days. 5 days yet to see the love so many people have for her, for such a small baby, is breathtaking.
When I found out that Hallie had passed away I was, like many of you, celebrating the Christmas season. I was at my in-laws house watching the annual Parker football game when I got the text to check Katie’s blog. I started sobbing immediately. This was a special Christmas for me, Kye’s first one understanding the whole thing and Brittlynn’s first Christmas ever. But Hallie made it even more special. The rest of that day my eyes filled with tears whenever I held Brittlynn. My frustrations at her lack of sleep were wiped away. I was grateful. So, so grateful. And that has stayed with me. As I wear my “Hope for Hallie” bracelet I am constantly reminded of the blessings I have. I kiss and love on my children more than I have ever. I pray more. I love more.
I am thankful to Hallie. To Chris. To Katie. Through this experience I have been changed. I have seen myself through new eyes. And I don’t like all that I see. Pre-Hallie I walked around feeling pretty good about myself. I’m a baptized believer, I’m going to Heaven, I know God and love Him. I’m good to go right??? Hallie forced me to examine myself a little closer. A little deeper than the do-good, church-going exterior. If I had been in their shoes I realized I’d be selfish. Jealous. Negative. I’d be angry with God. Chris and Katie are none of those things. From day one of learning about Hallie, they have leaned on the Lord. They have grown in their faith. They have been thankful for Hallie and for this experience. They have seen good in a situation that 99% of us would only see bad. They have seen the light in darkness. They have helped all of us to do the same.
Who would have ever thought that a newborn baby would make such an impact? Hallie has forever altered me. She has helped me to become a better person. She has helped me see myself as God sees me. As a flawed sinner who needs His grace and love. Who has a lot of growing up and maturing to do. Who is thankful that I have a chance to change. A few short months ago I lived in fear that something awful was just around the corner. While I don’t know if I could handle a “bad thing” half as gracefully as the Greens, I know that when my time comes (As it will come for us all at some point! We WILL have times of valleys, not always mountain tops!) I have amazing examples to look up to. I am blessed with friends who have shown strength in times of sorrow and gratefulness in times of pain.
I encourage all of you to take a long look at yourselves. To see who you are deep down inside and to examine some areas you may need to work on and grow from. Thank you to Hallie for giving me a new perspective on life and thank you to the Green’s for sharing her with us all.