the burial at sea

little girl beach

(Resurrected for Katy and Taylor)

There are times in life that stand out, and for some reason, we always remember them.

It brings a certain sadness to lose photographs of memories so precious.  Even more devastating is to watch someone slowly lose their memory over time.  I have always thought our memories were God’s way of giving us pictures and home-videos, cradled in the depths of our minds to keep and treasure for life.

No matter how ingenious the invention–God always thought of it first.

Remember.  Always remember.

I remember the morning after the miscarriage.  I called my nursing instructor and told her I wouldn’t make it to the clinical that day.  Skipping clinicals was highly discouraged, but I didn’t care.  I didn’t want to be around anybody after what had just happened.   Sometimes all you want is to be alone.

~~~

We were never meant to walk through life alone.  God said it was not good for the first man to be alone.  So he did something he’d never done before—he made a helper for him.   A companion. A woman.

But he was not the only one who walked beside her.

The Accuser stood ready and waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike.

The serpent had one goal in mind–

Deceive the hand to rock the cradle so he could rule the world.

~~~

“Are you going to be alright?” your daddy asked.

I don’t know I don’t know anything right now I just want to be alone but I want someone to talk to but what is there to say and think I’ll be fine but I don’t want you to leave but I know you have to because that is what needs to be done.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” I said.

Your dad said goodbye and left for class.  He was never one to skip classes.  He has always been very dedicated and responsible this way.  I’ve not always appreciated all of his many good qualities.   All too often it is easy to forget the good about the one you pledged before God to love and honor for life.

Remember.  Always remember.

I sat in our basement apartment alone.  Now that I think of it, I wasn’t alone.  Your brother must have been there too, though I don’t remember him being there.  My mind was preoccupied.

I couldn’t stop thinking.  Thinking about everything.  Everything that had happened the night before.  Before my eyes it all came flooding and rushing back–back to that moment.  That moment which wouldn’t leave and I couldn’t forget no matter how hard I tried.  I tried to think of something–anything.  Anything but–

But I could only think of one thing.

Nothing.

But this was not nothing.

This was a baby.

Nothing.

It was all gone now. The cradle was empty.  All of our hopes, dreams, laughter, anticipation, excitement, due dates, birth, life—it was gone.  Never to be seen again.  It had all been flushed down the toilet.  Flushed down the toilet.  Flushed down the–

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

This was his chance.  The snake lunged.  My entire being was struck by a cunning bite of guilt and panic.  I fell to the floor burdened with sorrow and heavy with shame.  I was paralyzed.  A multitude of demonic hosts began hell’s chorus.  What were you thinking?! What have you done?!

How could you do such a thing!?

I had waited four weeks.  I waited four agonizingly strange and thankfully slow weeks–just to keep him a little longer, to hold him as long as I could.  He was my baby.  I couldn’t bear the thought of evicting him out of the supposedly safe home of my womb by pills, or having him scraped out of me only to be discarded into a bloody red “hazard” bag to be thrown into the trash, or sent to a lab, or God only knows what else.

It felt so wrong.  So harsh.  So inhumane.  So unnatural.  I wanted things to happen naturally.

Naturally?

What is natural?

Is there anything natural about an empty cradle?

~~~

The womb was meant to be comfortable and warm–a place for a baby to sleep and grow—a place of protection and safekeeping.  The womb of the woman was the first cradle ever created.   The cradle was created by God and carefully placed inside the soft and sweetness of the Woman’s body.

She was different.

The woman was not formed from the dust of the earth like the man.  She was made from the rib of the first being created in the image of God, intentionally crafted for beauty and life.  And cradled deep within her is the keeper of the most mysterious secrets of the universe, the true and faithful witness of the handiwork of God.

The cradle holds the key to unleash the making of a Baby.

~~~

Is there anything natural about the cruel and backwards reality that everything once colored perfect is so marked up outside the lines?   Is there anything natural about a twisted fate that destines wombs to remain empty?  Is it natural for a cradle to be prepared with love by parents only to be robbed and rendered useless?  Is there anything natural about a pregnancy—the joy of a woman’s heart and soul and body to fill the earth with life—ending in tragedy?

Is there anything natural about a womb that expels death?

It didn’t matter how it happened.  Drugs.  Surgery.  Naturally.

There was nothing natural about any of this.

Babies are meant to be born aliveand to live.

Your dad and I sat there in the bathroom that night for a very long time.  We didn’t really know what to do.  It didn’t seem right.  But I guess we felt like there was no other option.   We couldn’t bear to do it.  But we had to.  We said goodbye.

And now I was drowning in regret.

I had flushed my baby down the toilet.  There was nothing I could do.  There was absolutely no way to get him back.  I had sent my child into the sewers filled with darkness and stench to be drowned and swallowed up by human waste.

WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD DO SUCH A THING!?

I was beside myself.

I picked up the phone and called my parents.

I told them all about it and that it had finally happened and that I was relieved that it was all over and that I wasn’t going to school today and somehow through the sobbing I got it out, what was truly bothering me.

“I flushed my baby down the toilet!”

There was silence for what felt like half an hour.

I don’t remember much of the conversation.  Both of my parents were there to listen and offer whatever words they could think of at the time to try and comfort their half-crazy-half-grief-stricken-one-hundred-percent-mess of a daughter.

Remember.  I will always remember.

I will always remember his words.

The night before the words of your father had brought me comfort.

This time is was my father who spoke.  Your grandpa.  My dad has always been a man who had a special way with words.  He can phrase something in a way that makes sense and is comforting and puts it in a whole new perspective.   I don’t remember everything he said, but I do remember this–

“Rebekah”, he said.  I always love to hear him say my name.  The name he picked for me.

“Think of this–as a burial at sea.”

He told me the story of the majestic Titanic.  The royal ship was hailed unsinkable, heralded by its creators that God himself could not sink it.  This invincible ship suffered a fatal wound from an iceberg and plunged to the depths of the frigid unknown on its maiden voyage.  He reminded me of all the lives that were lost that dark and cold arctic night in the Atlantic.  All the bodies that were never found, but were buried in the sea, swallowed up by the waters of the ocean.

Only a fool would challenge the Living God.

No creation of the created man stands a chance against the Creation of the original Creator.

I don’t remember what else my dad said or how long I talked to my parents.  But I remember those words.  A burial at sea.  And for some strange reason, it was comforting to me.  The thought was a little more bearable.  It wouldn’t be for a few more years until those words became even more meaningful and powerful in a way I never could have imagined.

In the back of my mind it still bothered me to think of those bodies that would dissolve into nothing and forever remain disintegrated dust.  The ones who were swallowed up forever were forever gone and would never be seen again.

Or would they?

Still I was comforted.  My baby wasn’t alone.

Flushed down the toilet.  Yes.

No.

Buried in the sea.  Whisked away by the twirling dance of the water.  Round and around and around and around.  Carried off by strong arms of the stream–out to the sea.

Ever since childhood, I have always loved the ocean, terrifying and awe-inspiring all at the same time.  And that is when I named him–Elijah.What a perfect name for the baby buried in the sea.

Elijah.

He was the prophet of God whose spirit was renewed, not by the shouts of earthquakes and fires, but by a quiet whisper–the still small voice of his Father.  He was the prophet who trusted in the provision of the Hand of God during times of fear and famine.

The Hand Who Created the Cradle and Rules the World. 

The prophet of the Lord of Hosts, carried up to heaven from the banks of the Jordan River by a mighty rushing whirlwind, accompanied by the twirling dance of fiery horses and chariots.

Elijah.

Whisked away and carried from the banks of the water and up to the heavens–

and into the cradling hands of God.

~~~

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.  From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.  Then another book was opened, which is the book of life.  And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.  And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.  Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.”

Revelation 20:11-14

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4 thoughts on “the burial at sea

  1. The earth with its store of wonders untold,
    Almighty, your power has founded of old,
    Established it fast by a changeless decree,
    And round it has cast, like a mantle, the sea

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