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Escorted to Heaven 40 Years Ago.

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.”

That stung.

“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.

 

12 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Newcomb on October 23, 2019 at 11:18 am

    Prayers for a piece that passes all understanding!
    🙏❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️

    • Sarah Robinson on October 23, 2019 at 3:21 pm

      Your prayers are a balm in these days of remembrance. Thank you, Elizabeth. Love you so!

  2. Connie on October 23, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    Beautifully said.

  3. Debi Knapp on October 23, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    I love how you can write so openly about what had to be the hardest time of your life. My parents lost my brother when he was only 2, very unexpectedly. They were never able to talk about it. It is so much healthier to acknowledge that pain and bring it to light. Thank you for sharing Amy’s story. Prayers for you and Jim as you remember her birthday in this way.

    • Sarah Robinson on October 23, 2019 at 5:04 pm

      How tragic, Debi! It makes me feel so bad for them, though of course I never knew them. What a dreadful loss. It might have been easier for me losing a practical newborn, and because I’m a born writer, the words are my therapy. Jim was amazed that I could recall verbatim what the pediatrician had said. It’s so interesting to me, once you share some of the details (I left tons out) how those who’ve lost a child relate. The very next year, my beloved brother drowned. I was spinning out of control until I got into recovery. God met me there again, in a profound way. It’s my privilege to share my faith journey. Jesus has been there every step of the way. Thank you for sharing. Love you!

  4. Donna Corbin on October 23, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    What a wonderful testimony to all who grieve loss! I have never forgotten the day you told me about Amy, 38 years ago! When you wrote about the presence of Jesus as He comforted you as He took Amy home, I was very touched. There are no words to express the peace and comfort that comes to me when I too, know and feel His presence. Thank you sharing your thoughts with us all today. God bless you and Jim as you continue to walk in His Presence!

    • Sarah Robinson on October 23, 2019 at 6:47 pm

      It’s always been so easy to talk with you, especially about spiritual things. I couldn’t not share about Amy as her birthday was approaching. But I’ve cried more tears this week than I have in years. It’s like a faucet that will not completely shut off. Donna, your friendship and encouragement have always meant so much to me. Oh, the joy of heaven that awaits! I still talk to my brother John, knowing he’s in paradise. Thanks for writing. I love and miss you!

  5. Beth on October 23, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    This is such a beautiful testimony of God’s abundant mercy and grace and His tender, compassionate love for His children!! Thank you Sarah!

    • Sarah Robinson on October 23, 2019 at 6:49 pm

      Thank you for saying so. I’m glad I can write about the sad parts and the mysterious and wonderful parts, too. Life is so challenging at times but with the presence of Almighty God, there is nothing He can’t help us through.

  6. Annette Wilson on October 27, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    God bless you Sarah for being able to share your precious daughters life and passing on to heaven. Even though writing is cathartic for you…it still has to bring such a contradiction to your heart…. I am so sorry that you didn’t get to watch your eldest daughter grow into the lovely woman that her little sisters have become. Praise God for His presence and Peace that truly passed all understanding as Jesus walked right beside you.

  7. Sarah Robinson on October 27, 2019 at 10:14 pm

    Thank you, precious friend. God has more than made up for the loss, not that He ever promised or that we expected Him to, He just DID! The grief is almost as raw as it was in 1980, but it’s a part of being a mom, and losing the plans we had for Amy, and then losing her. Yes, I write so that the words can somehow help me or find someone else right where they are in their journey.
    Hope to see you in these coming months! Maybe late November, early December?
    Blessings!

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