April 8, 2009

A Mother's Love

2009 1510 page31 capHEN OUR PREMATURE SON WAS IN THE HOSPITAL’S NEONATAL INTENSIVE care unit (NICU) after his birth, my husband and I bonded quickly with the parents around us. We were all in the same boat—sitting by our baby’s bedside, one eye on the monitor and the other on that little body in the incubator. Chatting with a relative stranger about humorous hospital experiences or dramatic labor stories helped to release some of the stress.
My son’s little neighbor was a baby girl named Tina.* She was so tiny, but her big eyes were alert and her little arms were waving around. Her father sat with her, next to her incubator.
When the alarms on little Tina’s monitor started going off, her father exchanged a look of horror with me.
“She’ll be OK,” I assured him. “My little guy went through the same issues with his breathing, and he’s doing great now. Just give it some time.”
2009 1510 page31Tina’s incubator was surrounded by nurses and doctors who seemed to materialize out of nowhere, but that alarm kept ringing, and ringing . . .
I knew things were not going well when the staff asked all of us parents to leave the ward. Soon the incubator was wheeled out—empty.
Little Tina hadn’t made it.
I’ve never seen such grief before that day. Her father completely broke down. Then he had to go tell his wife that their little daughter had died.
I felt incredible sadness—and a horrible wave of guilt. After all, I had given him false hope. My son was still here. I didn’t understand what he was going through. I had never felt that kind of pain.
The memory of little Tina stayed with me. Several days later, after my son had been discharged from the hospital, my husband and I were watching a religious program on the Internet. It showed a picture of Mary, mother of Jesus, watching her Son being brought to die. It was then the thought hit me. We women tend to sympathize with Mary in the early part of her life when she was pregnant—riding a donkey to Nazareth, trying to explain who fathered her child, laboring through childbirth on the floor of a cattle stall. But how often do we think of her standing beside the cross?
I did not understand the agony she must have endured until I held my little boy in my arms. When I hold my son, I realize that I’d go through any kind of pain myself rather than see him in pain. The loss of a child would be the most horrific experience of a person’s life. Watching him being tortured? I can’t imagine staying sane through that.
I haven’t made my peace with Tina’s death yet. I doubt I ever will. I don’t think her parents will either. It isn’t right that she died. But somehow there is comfort made available for us through even the most horrifying experiences.
It was because Mary’s Son died that we don’t have to say goodbye forever. It is because of that horrible experience of Jesus dying on the cross—which Mary witnessed, wishing she could take His place, praying for an end to His pain, and dying with Him in her heart—that we are all saved from this sinful, unfair world. Because of Mary’s Son, we have hope! We’ll see our loved ones again. We’ll be families again. We’ll be with our loving God and never be separated again.
Jesus is Mary’s Messiah. He died to save her. But she also gave birth to Him, and when she sees Him in the clouds, I’m sure her mother’s heart will skip a beat! Because that is a mother’s love. That is a mother’s heart. And I believe Jesus will have a very special hug for His mother. 
*Not her real name.
Patty Froese Ntihemuka has authored two recently released books titled The Woman at The Well and Martha and Mary. She lives in Edmonton, Canada.