There is one part of the book though that I will always remember. You know, one of those things when you are reading it you get goosebumps, tears well up in your eyes, and you feel the Spirit so strong that there is no denying the truth of what you are reading (hearing or seeing)?!
We have recently discussed loss on our Facebook page and I want to share this with you. I need to share this with you. I will start where the conversation begins between Colton, the 4 year old and his mother, Sonja.
“Mommy, I have two sisters,” Colton said.
I put down my pen. Sonja didn’t. She kept on working.
Colton repeated himself. “Mommy, I have two sisters.”
Sonja looked up from her paperwork and shook her head slightly. “No, you have a sister, Cassie, and…do you mean your cousin, Traci?”
“No.” Colton clipped off the word adamantly. “I have two sisters. You had a baby die in your tummy, didn’t you?”
At that moment, time stopped in the Burpo household, and Sonja’s eyes grew wide. Just a few seconds before, Colton had been trying unsuccessfully to get his mom to listen to him. Now, even from the kitchen table, I could see that he had her undivided attention.
“Who told you I had a baby die in my tummy?” Sonja said, her tone serious.
“She did, Mommy. She said she died in your tummy.”
I knew what my wife had to be feeling. Losing that baby was the most painful event of her life. We had explained it to Cassie; she was older. But we hadn’t told Colton, judging the topic a bit beyond a four-year-old’s capacity to understand. From the table, I watched quietly as emotions rioted across Sonja’s face.
“It’s okay, Mommy,” he said. “She’s okay. God adopted her.”
Sonja slid off the couch and knelt down in front of Colton so that she could look him in the eyes. “Don’t you mean Jesus adopted her?” she said.
“No, Mommy. His Dad did!”
Sonja turned and looked at me. In that moment, she later told me, she was trying to stay calm, but she was overwhelmed. Our baby….was–is!–a girl, she thought.
Sonja focused on Colton, and I could hear the effort it took to steady her voice. “So what did she look like?”
“She looked a lot like Cassie,” Colton said. “She is just a little bit smaller, and she has dark hair.”
Sonja’s dark hair.
As I watched, a blend of pain and joy played across my wife’s face. Cassie and Colton have my blond hair. She had even jokingly complained to me before, “I carry these kids for nine months, and they both come out looking like you!” Now there was a child who looked like her. A daughter. I saw the first hint of a moisture glint in my wife’s eyes.
Now Colton went on without prompting. “In heaven, this little girl ran up to me, and she wouldn’t stop hugging me, ” he said in a tone that clearly indicated he didn’t enjoy all this hugging form a girl.
“Maybe she was just happy that someone from her family was there,” Sonja offered. “Girls hug. When we’re happy, we hug.”
Colton didn’t seem convinced.
Sonja’s eyes lit up and she asked, “What was her name? What was the little girl’s name?”
Colton seemed to forget about all the yucky girl hugs for a moment. “She doesn’t have a name. You guys didn’t name her.”
How did he know that?
“You’re right, Colton,” Sonja said. “We didn’t even know she was a she.”
Then Cotlon said something that still rings in my ears: “Yeah, she said she just can’t wait for you and Daddy to get to heaven.”
“Our baby is okay,” she whispered. “Our baby is okay.”
From that moment on, the wound from one of the most painful episodes in our lives, losing a child we had wanted very much, began to heal.
But now that we know our little girl doesn’t have a name yet, we constantly tell each other, “I’m going to beat you to heaven and name her first!”