In Memory of Amy Lynn Robinson
Nov.3, 1979 to May 8, 1980
Some things are so hard to write about.
Grief is an unexpected, multi-faceted emotion. Much has been written on the stages one goes through when you lose a loved one.
In our case, we knew from month one that our new baby Amy needed help, but in no way, shape or form were we prepared to lose her. The problems she had could only be controlled with medication, not cured. So we bargained with God over the baby’s condition: “If You’ll only let her be well, we will give up everything we have…”
And we had accumulated much already: at ages 26 and 20, Jim and I bought our first home together. We had plenty of belongings, clothing, two cars…and yet we would have traded it all in if only our baby could get well. If she was as sick as the specialists indicated, we were willing to do without, give up anything and everything. But bargaining, we would learn, wasn’t an option. The next 5 months proved that even the doctors couldn’t prevent her condition from worsening.
When we realized she was actually dying, we were in shock, at first. She’d made it to six months of age, but she was more like a newborn. When I noticed one morning her fingertips and lips had turned blue, the doctor told me to bring her in immediately. She was admitted to the intensive care, and we spent the next few days by her side in St. Joseph’s Hospital.
Subconsciously, I believe Jim and I both began, slowly but surely, letting go. At only 13 pounds, our baby hadn’t responded well for all those months. There is a powerlessness that grips you, and you are paralyzed by the unknowns.
When she was placed in intensive care under the oxygen tent, we couldn’t even hold her.
Amy’s pediatrician was no-nonsense, blunt to a fault, and he wanted to meet with us privately. I’ll never forget how he told us he’d made some decisions for himself.
“I teach Sunday School,” he said. “I tell my class, ‘The human body is the most amazing machine ever created.’ It’s a miracle when everything functions properly. Amy’s got pneumonia and the oxygen we’ve been giving her isn’t making much difference.” Knowing Amy had been sick since birth, the heavy medications she’d been on, and how much she’d been through already, the doctor looked at Jim.
“You’re in the car business. You’ll understand me when I say, Amy’s a lemon.”
“And I’m going to do everything I can to continue to help her, but her chances aren’t good.”
We were stunned at his bluntness and at the prognosis. His words left us numb that next day. When he called us in after a third, difficult day of decline, we were unprepared.
“I’ve brought your baby back twice in the past two days. There’s a very slim chance she’s going to pull out of this, and if she does, it will be an act of God. The next time she stops breathing, I won’t bring her back.”
I can’t recall who spoke next, whether he gave us a chance to respond or if we were just speechless.
I do recall what I did next. I made a b-line for the restroom where I wanted to collapse. I was alone with my thoughts. I stood at the counter shaking and crying. Then I heard God say to my heart,
“I’m taking her home with Me.”
All of a sudden I felt overwhelming peace. And not only peace, but the unmistakable presence of Jesus standing right next to me. I splashed cold water on my face and walked back down the hallway, and He walked right with me. I couldn’t see Him in bodily form, but I knew with no uncertainty, He was there. It freaked me out so much, I couldn’t share it with anyone. When just moments before I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown, it was like God had given me direct permission to let Amy go, and He was not only providing an escort for her, He was not leaving me unattended either, even after she left.
Jim and I stayed at Amy’s side those next few, intense minutes. And as she gradually quit laboring for each breath and passed away peacefully, there are no words to express the depth of emotion we felt.
Our families rallied around us. When Jim’s aunt embraced me, I felt such deep connection to her: her eldest son, at age 12, had hung himself accidentally just a year or so before. As difficult as it was for us to let go of our baby, I just couldn’t fathom that level of grief. But her faith in God held strong, too.
Forty years later, those short months of Amy’s life come back in a flood. All the emotions: the fear, the confusion, the agony, and the painful acceptance.
She did go home that day at age six months.
We will see her again one day, and she’ll be whole.