Becoming a widow at the age of 34 is sometimes too hard to even think about, but that’s the life God had for my mom. I always knew the sadness and pain we felt in our family with the absence of my father, but when I married I began to understand the depth of my mom’s trial even more. I’ve fallen more in love with Matt with each new challenge and each new triumph since the day we married. It’s hard to even fathom a life without him.
In the same way, my heart now aches even more for the pain my mother endured when she lost not one, but two babies.
Now that I’m a mother of my own, I feel a deeper appreciation for my mom. I think that happens to everyone as they become a mother. I never doubted my mother’s love for me growing up, but now that I’ve welcomed my own son and daughter into the world I am better able to understand the depth of that love she has for me. Which makes it all the more hard to imagine the loss of a child.
My mom’s first pregnancy showed no signs of complication until 7 months when she delivered a stillborn baby girl. Two years later, a baby boy at 5 months.
Their names were Cherish and Brian.
Lee and I always knew about our older siblings as we were growing up. We knew mommy lost two babies and they were now with the Lord, but when I was in high school my mom opened up to me even more about the loss of her first two children. I appreciated her vulnerability. It was one of those defining moments when you remember that your parents are normal people who experience pain just like you.
I told my mom how I thought Cherish was the prettiest little girl’s name. I said I would love to name my own daughter that one day, but I wanted to make sure that would be something she wanted and not something that brought back painful memories. She said “I would love that“.
I never mentioned it again to her. I never made any promises either. For all she knew, it was just a high school girl getting caught up in the moment and I’d now forgotten. Who knows, maybe she forgot about that conversation herself!
But I most definitely didn’t forget. I thought about Cherish (my sister) and Cherish (Lord willing, my future daughter) quite often. I prayed for my baby girl as her name came to mind. I even shallowly prayed for God to give me a husband who liked that name too! I knew naming kids was a two person job and I didn’t want to make any promises I couldn’t keep.
Flash forward a few years to my college days in Jackson, TN. I was working part time at a Hallmark near Union’s campus with my roommate Jill.
Much of that job consisted of straightening cards, dusting glass displays, and organizing the extra stock in our storage room. I was in the Willow Tree aisle organizing our new shipment one Sunday afternoon as Jill covered the cash register when I stumbled upon a box labeled “Cherish”. I quickly opened the box to see what figurine carried my sister’s name. Here’s what I found…
I couldn’t believe my eyes! I quickly purchased two figurines in hopes that one day I could share one with my mom and the other with my daughter. I’ve carried them around with me ever since that day. They’ve traveled with me to each new apartment and now our first house, living in the storage tupperware under my bed waiting for the day when I was blessed with a Cherish of my own.
That day finally came. When Matt and I found out that one of the two littles in my womb was a girl, we decided together on the name Cherish. My long awaited dreams and prayers had come true!
With a name like Cherish, we wanted to be intentional with the middle name we chose for our little girl. Before I married Matt, I always thought in the back of my mind that “Hope” would be a good middle name to pair with Cherish. As someone who has struggled off and on her whole life with depression, I thought I could use the reminder.
Matt threw out the name “Grace” as an alternative. He said he felt like I needed more of a reminder to cherish grace than to cherish hope, and I would agree. I’ve often said that I feel like I’m a prisoner of hope. Even on my saddest days I know deep down that there is always hope, but grace is something I forget easily, leading me into depression. I’m a pretty positive, easy-going person in general, but I tend to be way too hard on myself.
I needed a daily reminder to cherish the grace I have freely offered to me in Christ Jesus, and now I have her. When I look at my baby girl and think of what her name means, I think of a savior who died for my sins. Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, dying on the cross and extending me grace upon grace. When I sin, I remember that grace doesn’t offer a new chance at perfection. It offers a perfection that will never be matched.
That’s something I will always cherish.
God blessed my mom with her first child, Cherish, who was here with her for just a short time. And now he’s blessed her with her first grandchild, Cherish. While we pray for a long, healthy life for this baby girl who sits in my lap as I type this post, we trust whatever God’s plan is for her… just like her aunt’s.
The Lord gives and he takes away, blessed be his name.