It’s a true blessing to have Paula Scott as a guest blogger today. Paula and I were instant friends when we met at a writer’s retreat at Lake Tahoe a few years ago. She’s a best-selling author and the mother of an amazing bunch (and I do mean a bunch) of kids.
Paula’s family has recently gone through a great trial. Her grandson, Benjamin, died on his mother’s chest at the tender age of one minute. The parents were told that the baby had a condition that would make it impossible for him to live outside the womb. They were offered the option of abortion, but in spite of the dire prognosis, the young couple chose to carry the baby as long as possible. Their decision resulted in a miracle of life for two other families and a miracle of peace for their own.
We’ve brought the story to you just as Paula told it a few days after Benjamin’s death.
I know you want to hear about Benjamin’s birth but let me start with pruning season because once I write about Benjamin, I’m not sure I will be able to keep going.
It’s pruning season on our farm. This time of year, I always feel sorry for our fruit trees. Their summer glory is cut off and they look stripped bare when Santos is finished with them. And yet Santos knows what he’s doing. He’s preparing our trees for spring and summer. Making room for new growth. The coming bloom. Hopefully a bountiful harvest.
It reminds me of what our family has been going through these past nine months.
If nothing else, 2020 was eye-opening. Control is an illusion. Yesterday I cried into my mask. I was walking into the grocery store when I ran into a friend who lost her son two years ago. His funeral was one of the most beautiful and yet sad celebrations of life I have ever attended. I asked my friend how she was doing and she said, “Nobody told me the second year would be harder than the first.”
I nodded in understanding as tears shot out of my eyes and pooled in my mask, creating a little sauna on my face. Calfornia is still in lockdown. I’m a rule follower so I wear my mask in public. I have friends who support the mask mandate and others who think it’s a sign of government control. At this point, I don’t care what the mask means. It holds my tears and reminds me the world is sick and broken.
When a branch is sick or broken in the orchard, we cut it off the tree, hoping the tree will rally. We also prune off branches that have served their purpose. Santos cut our trees back a lot this year. “To make bigger fruit this summer,” he explained when I walked out into the orchard to say hello.
“Bigger fruit is good,” I smiled and didn’t say much more.
I wish I spoke Spanish so Santos and I could have a long conversation about tree care, but instead I smile and nod a lot. Santos knows the language of the trees and I trust him to take care of them.
Many times I’ve reminded myself I can trust God to take care of us too. I don’t speak the Lord’s language of suffering well. But I know it is necessary to grow souls. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. Hebrews 5:8. We learn obedience through suffering as well.
I’d hoped to write a completely different post this week.
“We got our miracle!” I wanted to shout from the treetops, but that’s not the way our story with Benjamin ended. For the past several weeks, I’ve prayed, “Lord, if you don’t give us a miracle, please give us you. Your mercy. Your presence. You. The God of all comfort.”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies; God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Benjamin arrived late Thursday night, one day before his January 15th due date, which in itself is a miracle. Most Trisomy 18 babies never make it full term. Your prayers for Benjamin have made such a difference. Benjamin was born at 10:45 pm and passed away peacefully right after birth on his mama’s chest.
I know many of you wanted a miracle for Benjamin and our family.
Tears are running down my face as I write this. It looks like another family will get the miracle we so desperately prayed for. Benjamin’s heart valve will be used to save another baby’s life.
None of us dreamed this could happen but God knew and Jesus gave Lacy the strength to carry Benjamin all nine months and he fought hard to keep growing so he could meet his mom and dad waiting with all the love in the world for his arrival.
I’m not going to lie.
This has been gut-wrenching. Lacy’s husband Jake was the only one allowed at the hospital for the delivery because of Covid restrictions, but when Benjamin passed away, Lacy called and said, “They are going to let you say goodbye to Ben if you want to come to the hospital now.”
Scott and I jumped in the pickup and raced through a dark night into town. There was no moon. Looking out the passenger window, I was struck by the tender light of the stars. We didn’t get our miracle, so we get You. Please, let us feel your presence at the hospital, I prayed while staring out the truck window across farm fields stripped bare by wintertime.
We rushed into the emergency room, gave our names and IDs, and were quietly and compassionately ushered down a long hallway, up several elevators, and then walked down another long hallway until we reached a secluded room on the maternity floor.
Wild horses weren’t going to stop us from reaching Lacy, Jake, and Benjamin.
We pushed open the door and a stunning wave of peace washed us to a standstill. Lacy and Jake were cradling their precious baby boy. Benjamin didn’t appear gone, just sleeping in their arms. The radiant light on Lacy and Jake’s faces surprised me. Their smiles were so beautiful, teary but trusting. The peace of God was so strong in the room it overwhelmed me and I stopped weeping.
We’d been on such a hard journey, and at the end of it here, the Holy Spirit swirled with light and love. It was such a holy moment. Lacy and Jake were loving their baby boy. Benjamin was wrapped in several blankets tenderly made by people who love our family.
Scott and I had desperately wanted to hold Ben, but because of the Covid restrictions at the hospital, we didn’t think this would be possible unless Benjamin beat the odds and got to go home.
We had asked the Lord for mercy and miracles and got both at Benjamin’s birth.
Ben did not suffer, something we’d all feared might happen. Our beautiful little grandson went straight from his mama’s loving arms to the arms of the angels while Jesus held the rest of us close. That was mercy.
The miracle was saying goodbye to our Benjamin knowing that another family was rejoicing somewhere out there because their baby would live. Please pray that the baby who receives Benjamin’s heart valve not only lives but thrives. That this dear little one with part of Benjamin’s heart grows up to play football like Benjamin’s daddy or ride horses like Benjamin’s mommy or becomes someone who changes the world for the better. Because this broken world so badly needs better.
None of this would have been possible if Lacy and Jake hadn’t agreed to carry Benjamin for as long as they could.
Oh, how far love can go.
I want to thank all of you for your love, support, and prayers all these months. You are all so amazing. We love you. I also want to thank my sweet friend Michelle Zearfoss for the use of her pruning pictures full of light and nature’s beauty.
Marilyn and Rebecca
I was so moved when I read this story, so beautifully written by my dear friend. What is the value of a one-minute life? It was everything to Benjamin’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and two babies who received organs from this precious child. A few months ago, Rebecca and I wrote a post calling America to mourn the aborted babies of America and the world. You can read it here. A Call to Mourn And please visit Paula’s website at www.paulascott.com.
You might want to read one of Paula’s novels called The Mother Keeper A beautiful story about another young girl with a choice to make. It’s also a love story!
Thank you so much for being with us today. Rebecca and I appreciate our readers so much. If you haven’t done so yet, fill out the Let’s Connect form below and get our posts about once a month. We’ve got some exciting things coming up!