Our October 15 Experience

A couple of years ago on October 15—National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day—I released a balloon in memory of my first daughter, Noelle, saying in my heart again, We are grateful to have known you, we are so glad for you to be experiencing heaven with Christ, we dearly miss you, and we will see you soon.

At our family event, we gathered at a local park. We prayed. We ate cupcakes. The decorations and balloons were white, silver, and pink—bright, pure, and full of joy; Noelle has given us such pure joy. Noelle's family members who live miles away in Kentucky even joined in the day too by doing their own balloon release event, wearing their Hope Mommies October 15 shirts. It was a little too cold to see ours (thankfully for this Illinoisan, Hope Mommies is offering hoodies this year in addition to T-shirts!).

We released the balloons. They faded into the skies—out of sight. Of course, I can no longer see my daughter either—my sight is limited. But God sees her; He knows her. His sight and knowledge have no limits. I wait for her, but she is lacking nothing—I have the hope she is completely satisfied, full, joyful, and glad with Him.

I paused on our balloon-release hill last year for a moment, still watching what I couldn’t see. I was reminded of a novel I had read soon after my daughter went to heaven. In Crossing Oceans, by Gina Holmes, the main character is a mother who has been told that she is dying of cancer. This mom, reaching her final earthly days, has to tell her daughter that she will be going to heaven, but that her daughter cannot follow just yet:

“‘Look at the ocean.’

She [the daughter] hesitated, her eyes lingering on me as though I might disappear if she were to turn away.

‘Can you see the other side?’

She shook her head, making her curls, wild from the breeze and salt water, flounce.

‘You can’t see the other side, but there is one. Do you believe me?’

She nodded.

‘Mommy is going to heaven soon. Heaven is like the other side of this ocean. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.’

She frowned. ‘Today?’

‘No,’ I said, ‘but very soon.’

‘On a boat?’

I shook my head. ‘Jesus is going to take me.’”[1]

Those were some of the refrains that passed through my mind as I watched those balloons disappear; she is just on the other side of the ocean. My Noelle is just on the other side of the skies, and though we cannot see the other side, that doesn’t mean that it is not there. It is there. The other side is there and Jesus has taken my baby to the heavenly shore, just out of sight. Jesus will take all who are believers there too—right on the other side of this life.

Releasing balloons that fade out of sight reminds me that my life here does not depend upon what I can see; no, my life actually depends upon what I can’t: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1). Yet, I am called to live like I can see everything I hope for. I am called to live as if it were all by sight, even though it’s not—hope is the conviction, the assurance of things unseen.

To choose hope this October 15 together is to choose faith. It is to choose that the conviction God has given me through Christ—that my hope is real—superseding even the tremendous pain of having watched my child fade out of my earthly life. What I hope for—being together with my child, experiencing a forever-union with Christ—will be reality; and it is better than the best of this life. Hoping is to choosing to base my life on the assurance that the other side is there, as real as if I can see it.

I am thankful to my daughter over and over for how she makes heaven seem more real to me; I have seen a dear person who now lives there, so she reminds me it is a genuine place. Though she is gone now, this is her message of overflowing life and hope to me: You can’t see the other side, but there is one. Do you believe me? Do you believe Jesus? 

“Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later’” (John 13:36). Jesus Christ went to prepare a place for all who believe at the cross through His sacrificial death for our sins and resurrection (John 14:3). And, so, we will follow Him. Though we cannot see Him now, we who love Him will see Him soon:

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).

I have a hope that is at least as real as it is presently unseen to my eyes. I join under the “banner” of Hope Mommies this year again as we flood the skies with hope-filled conviction, assurance, and inexpressible and glorious joy!

[1] Holmes, Gina (2010-04-26). Crossing Oceans (p. 214). Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition.

This post was originally published at Hope Mommies.

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