She was born yesterday.
Her parents are near in our family tree.
These are not primitives. Both husband and wife have hard-earned Ph.D.'s, a handsome, talented, busy couple.
She lived forty minutes.
They knew that it would be this way. Months ago, the ultrasound revealed an absence of amniotic fluid, the result of an absence of kidneys.
Ultrasounds can be off sometimes, so they kept track of it. No, it's not getting better. She has little to no chance.
The parents grieved. They follow Jesus, which gives them perspective and a rock to hold onto, but they are people who wanted this baby and have dreams. Faith does not eliminate pain; it simply pencils in an appointment for a joy to be delivered later, after the living God finishes what He is doing here.
They planned ahead: who would be there for the birth, funeral plans, how it would go.
God creates all life, and God is sovereign over it. God's intent and design make people valuable, whether they can do higher math, lift a quarter-ton, write a symphony, or live for forty minutes.
Her parents believe this. They believe it more now than they did before.
Because God makes life, and because she is a person, they did not abort. They kept her.
She grew. A baby bump. The topic of conversation wherever young mom went, with a smile of joy and congratulations. Then the explanation: yes, it is a girl, no, it's not going to work out, we have plans. The conversation stops. The subject is changed. We are finite comforters, preschoolers tasked to do surgery.
They found community online with so many who have been there and done that. It is a reminder that the birth of a healthy baby is such a miracle; so many things have to go right for it to work out happily. And it is a reminder that this world is imperfect and there are more than a few stories of tears.
Life is right there. She is alive. As with all babies, she is right there, close enough to touch, to see on the screen. Warm and soft and vulnerable.
She arrived early, alive, with a cry. The grandparents were still home on the other side of the country and missed it. They grabbed a flight as soon as they could.
They loved her with the intensity of parents who wanted her every bit. She received forty minutes of undiluted love.
She has a name. It is an old-fashioned name, three syllables, overtly feminine. She is not a case file number. See how a certain collection of letters affixed to a person causes a transfer, a promotion from thing to person , from walk away to wait a minute, from red biohazard garbage bag to pretty casket.
She is wrapped in soft clean blankets, and family members speak softly to her, kissing her, smelling her head, making promises.
She did not know it, but she was, is, will be loved.
She has a brother, a toddler who doesn't grasp what is happening and will get it in pieces through the years.
She has married parents who love each other and operate with one mind.
She has a family strewn across the country.
She will have a funeral, and people will weep.
All of this loud talk-past-each-other argument we are having about the personhood of the small and weak. We may say it is philosophical, but philosophy is really just an indicator of how near a man is standing to the fire of written revelation. At its core, we are discussing whether indeed God is designer of man, and whether He has the authority to write the dictionary.
Her parents are standing in the warmth of that fire. They have given away that power to the Almighty. They believe He is good.
Each man's theology, specifically each woman's theology in this case, is revealed by watching the feet. The feet of the one lead to the clinic where the "thing" is removed and the woman walks away, any awareness of the soul on the periphery. The feet of the other lead to the birthing room, where a person is brought forth to joy or sorrow, to a path of life, to a measure of dignity.
Dignity costs more, in the form of dollars and time and energy and emotion. Those who recognize dignity in others and give it to them are inconvenienced and suffer more the closer they get. This is why near family members are most whipped by the roller coaster turns of a loved one's life. That is by design. It is near family sitting overnight in the ICU and slowly looking through old photos after the funeral.
But dignity given is rewarded. The soldier who gives it up for his unit is decorated. The firefighter or policeman who risks it all in a rescue is recognized. And the parent who chooses life, even the hard life, adds an enduring large stone to his wall of honor, even if that isn't why he was doing it.
She is not anonymous, a statistic, a number.
She is not a mass of cells or an invader.
She was not surgically removed. She was birthed and embraced.
Her family already is anticipating the walk up, that moment when the people redeemed by Christ and the babies who never knew will all awake, and there will be introductions and clapping of hands and joy and talk, talk, talk, and voices turned to love Jesus, who did it all and finally fixed all of this.
Her parents will be known for their love and loyalty and courage. That is their takeaway. Eight months, forty minutes, no regrets.
Really, though, their actions simply acknowledged the realities. God is. God is designer. God assigns meaning and value. God does what He will. God is good. God will fix this. God will be glorified in this. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
A person living in those realities will be dignified and will give dignity.
She will be known for her helpless beauty. She did that well.
She is a human. A woman. A person, created in the image of God. With a dainty three-syllable name.
She has left her mark. We thank her.
By Lee Whitworth