When None of it Makes Sense….

By Michelle L. Cramer, Founder & President

Over the last seven-plus years, On Angels’ Wings has done over 600 photo sessions, working with over 500 families. My heart is with each one of them, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that some of them gain extra special places in my life. For some, it’s because I happen to be the one that was there to take pictures when they lost their child, or have been their photographer for the entirety of their child’s journey fighting a condition that puts the child at risk. For others, it’s just been the development of a relationship over years — after all, our recipients become part of a family that continues to walk with them for the duration of their grief journey.

Many times, I get to celebrate with these families, like when their warrior kid reaches another birthday milestone that doctors said would never happen. Or when a family welcomes their rainbow baby into the world and finds that joy and hope walk alongside their grief. 

But today… today my heart is shattered. Because one of these long time recipients whom I’ve grown especially close to was supposed to be welcoming her perfect rainbow baby into the world. Instead, however, this family arrived at the hospital to find their dreams crushed yet again when they heard the words “no heart tones.” 

“No heart tones” on the anniversary of another dear friend losing her infant son. “No heart tones” while another recipient momma was simultaneously giving birth to her rainbow baby in the same hospital.

I will never in a million years be able to imagine the world crushing grief this family is enduring. But my heart is utterly broken for them. I wanted to be the one to go do their bereavement pictures in the hospital, but, when it came down to it, I had to send someone else. There’s only been one other time I wasn’t emotionally equipped to do a session myself, and that was following a loss in my own family. This is the first time I’ve not been able to go on a session because of my emotional tie to the recipients. 

And I’m not just sad for them, I’m angry on their behalf. In the raw of it, I can’t fathom how allowing this to happen fits into some divine plan. I maintain my faith, knowing I can’t see the full picture, but right now… right now it makes absolutely no sense why one family gets their rainbow and another doesn’t today. I can only imagine all of the questions, hurt, anger this family feels. And they have every right to feel every single bit of it. 

They don’t need to hear “God has a plan.” They don’t need to be reminded that they “can still try again.” Their son, who was to finally be a big brother here on this earth, doesn’t need to be told “it will all be okay.” Because, right now it won’t. Next month it won’t. Next year it may still not be. Grief has no timeline. It has no limits. There’s no expectations — no right or wrong way to get through this. 

From the moment I heard this song, it nearly knocked me over. And every time I’ve heard it since, I cry, thinking specifically of all our OAW families who have suffered unimaginable loss. Ironically, I heard it again just yesterday. It feels appropriate to close with the words — for my dear friend who is enduring more than I can fathom right now:

“The Next Right Thing”
by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

I’ve seen dark before, but not like this
This is cold, this is empty, this is numb
The life I knew is over, the lights are out
Hello, darkness, I’m ready to succumb
I follow you around, I always have
But you’ve gone to a place I cannot find
This grief has a gravity, it pulls me down
But a tiny voice whispers in my mind
You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing
Can there be a day beyond this night?
I don’t know anymore what is true
I can’t find my direction, I’m all alone
The only star that guided me was you
How to rise from the floor?
But it’s not you I’m rising for
Just do the next right thing
Take a step, step again
It is all that I can to do
The next right thing
I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
So I’ll walk through this night
Stumbling blindly toward the light
And do the next right thing
And, with it done, what comes then?
When it’s clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I’ll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing

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