This post is the twelfth in a series, “Lessons from my Father, Lewis Marler,” who lived from 1921-1998.
She was born approximately three and a half years before I was born. My mother had a couple of miscarriages in her first two pregnancies, but finally was able to deliver their first daughter in Selma on January 2, 1952. My father told me what an amazing experience it was when I was an adult.
Those were the days when fathers paced outside the delivery room waiting for the news.
He heard her cry when she was born and the nurse came out to tell him they had a beautiful healthy baby girl. He got to see her and hold her for a few minutes.
He drove the few miles home from the hospital and began making phone calls to his parents, brothers and sisters, my mother’s parents, and church members. The celebration began. After praying for the possibility of having a child, their prayers had been answered, or so they thought.
And then the phone call came. It was the doctor and he said to my Dad that he needed to come back to the hospital as fast as he could. “Something has gone wrong and we don’t know what it is,” said the physician who was a friend of my parents.
When my dad arrived he got the terrible news. Their only child, their little girl had died. Both of my parents were in shock and were grieving as you can imagine. What was a celebration one moment changed quickly into mourning.
She never had a name. But she has affected my life because she had an impact on my parents. My father described it as one of the darkest moments of his and my mother’s life. He said the grief was overwhelming.
Back in those days, couples were not encouraged to name the child if they died so quickly. We know better now.
So today, April 17, 2010, I am going to name my sister for my own sake, and call her Maria Marler.
Somehow my parents got through the experience as they were told they could not have any more children. It would be “too dangerous for my mother,” was the counsel from her doctor.
And so they eventually adopted my sister Marcy, who was born on October 25, 1952, but wasn’t brought home until some nine months later in the spring of 1953. Much to their surprise two years later I was born without medical problems.
One of the things my father taught me was that tragedies happen in everyone’s life. God can help us through anything we face, even losing a child. My dad and mom took that life experience and had a special ministry to reach out to friends, and friends of friends, over the years who had similar grief over the death of their child.
“God gave us a lot of opportunities to care for other people who felt like they couldn’t go on. We understood what they were going through and it also helped us to help them,” he told me after I was grown.
He told me one day, “I don’t believe God caused our little girl to die. God is a God of love. It just happened because of what we learned later was a RH-Negative factor in her blood. But I do believe that no matter what happens to us, God never leaves us, and he grieves with us. And if we are open to it, he can use even our tragedies for good in our lives.”
My father did not believe in a God of punishment who says one day, “Hmm, what tragedy can I give this person so s/he will learn a lesson?” Instead, he believed in a God who says, “I’m so sorry this has happened. I will give you strength to get through this, and then we can see how we can use this in your life to help others.”
I have held on to that lesson.
And now my parents are buried next to their daughter. And I try to remember, that God can take anything that happens in my life, and can cause good to come from it, if I am open to it.
My father taught me so.
What does this story remind you of? How has God taken something that was difficult for you and some good has come from it? Will you share in the comments below?
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