Dear Hope


February comes around every year. But you knew that. 

What you might not have known is that it's the month we found out we would be welcoming a little one into our home, after a long journey of waiting and praying. 

And it's also the month we said goodbye to our precious little, who we later named Hope. 

An ugly truth of mine is that there was a time when I found it strange and even "dramatic" to name a child you'd never met. 

But I know better now. 

I know grief now. 

I know Hope now. 

I know the high of celebrating life, and the low of watching it disappear in a local market bathroom stall. 

I know the feeling of blame and confusion.

I know coming to terms with a unique life gone, that this earth will never know. 

I know the despair of knowing my dreams for a little one that would not come to pass. 

I know well the realization and moment that I understood that I would never be the same. 

I know the despair of wanting desperately to see the face of someone you won't meet this side of Heaven. 

I know the feeling of joy and agony when they collide.

I know the ache of dear friends celebrating life as you grieve it. 

I know the lonely pit that comes with grieving a child your friends and family didn't know. 

I know what it's like to be the one of the few people on earth mourning and actively remembering the loss of someone so precious, so irreplaceable, and so dear. 

I know the indescribable feeling of looking into ocean blues of a 30-second-old, round-faced little girl and mourning the loss of someone who must have looked so much like her. 

But sweet little one. My Hope. 

I also know the feeling of mountaintops. Looking out at God's creation and knowing He created you, and that you must be so magnificent. So happy and pain-free. 

I know now that giving you a name, beyond just naming our little one, we named a special/cannot-be-replaced/one-of-a-kind child of God. 

I know the peace of knowing that somehow, God loves you more than I can, and you're in His care. 

I know the excitement that comes with knowing you and the longest hug imaginable await me in Heaven. 

I know the relief that comes with remembering you, but laying down the burden that was never mine to carry. 

I know the moment of realization when being forever changed became not a bad thing, but a bittersweet/hopeful/God-honoring thing. 

I know the mixture of joy and sadness colliding...

But it now feels something like hope, and compassion, and a reassurance of our Father's good plans. 

Thank you, Jesus. And thank you, my sweet Hope. 

For making me braver. For helping me to love deeper. For showing me that You actually never leave me. For teaching me to surrender. 

Forever changed, 

Courtney Longnecker