God met her in the in-between after she had walked out and before she got home. He replaced her questions — not with answers— but with confidence that he is sovereign and trustworthy.
Editor’s note from Christi:
Hadley Rogers was five months old when she was diagnosed with pulmonary vein stenosis. For ten weeks, while she was at Texas Children’s Hospital, her parents split their time between their home in Lake Jackson with their other two daughters and their new home inside the Houston hospital room with their baby. It’s been years since Hadley went home to be with Jesus while in the arms of her mother, Jacquin.
Jacquin grieved privately, but we all read her testimony between the lines of her life. Her choice to keep praising God through her darkness spoke volumes when she couldn’t speak of her story.
Now, she is finally ready to tell more of her story of God’s sustaining grace publicly. I’m both honored and humbled to be the caretaker of her words here. She wrestled with this post for months, finally sending it to me with a subject line of “Please help.” She thought it needed more that would point the reader to what they can learn from her story.
I disagreed. It is complete. This raw insight speaks for itself. When you read of her pain and then learn of how God sustained her and later began to show her more about what he did and where he was in the middle of the dark garden, you’ll be reminded that the God who carried her is the same one who carries you.
Thank you, Jacquie, for this gift you’ve poured out. I know what it cost you to give it up. All glory to the Father who holds your baby in heaven and sustains your mama heart here on earth.
I take one last look at her monitors, breathe in her smell, tell her “I love you,” and kiss her head. As I walk out the big double doors and wait for the elevator, I feel my legs starting to get weak. The weight of her prognosis, the sight of her battered and bruised body, her big helpless eyes. It is all threatening to crush me if I don’t move fast enough.
I walk trying to avoid eye contact because I am afraid any ounce of human interaction will send me crashing to the ground. I throw myself into the car and just sit there for a few minutes to catch my breath. I grasp the wheel but stay frozen until I can stop shaking. Leaving my sweet Hadley in the CVICU threatens to destroy my own heart just as her heart is starting to fail.
There is no way to make the hour-long trip home comfortable or easy. I don’t know how to feel, yet everything feels wrong. I try to act normal and listen to the radio as if someone passing me going 70mph might witness me not being as fearless and strong as I pretend to be and be able to convict me of being a bad mother. But all that happy and hope they are trying to sell me seems trivial and stupid when I think of my daughter who is fighting to take each breath. Silence is an even scarier foe. In the world I just left, I am used to the constant beeping of the vitals’ monitors, nurses discussing Hadley’s care, or other parents making nervous small talk.
The world I am heading to begins the moment I get home. I will have to be “on” for my other two bubbly, talking-a-mile-a-minute daughters who have been waiting to unpack everything that they have done the last couple of days and who desperately need me to pay attention to them and show them I love them just as much as I do Hadley.
There is also my amazing husband waiting, who is just as tired and grief-stricken as I am and relieved I’m coming home so he doesn’t have to be a single dad one more minute and we can each download the most up-to-date info on the different sides of the world we’ve been living in.
But for now. For now, I find myself in the in-between. Nothing to distract me. Nothing pulling my attention. Nothing.
This is the place where my two vastly different worlds collide, where life and death are now fighting for my attention.
As I travel through this black hole, everything starts to come crashing down. With each breath I take and each mile I drive, I become more aware of the fact that my daughter is going to die. As my hot tears start to flow for the first time since she entered the hospital, so do my thoughts. I find myself speaking out loud to fill the silence and in turn, it all becomes real.
“Hadley is going to die. Her heart is failing and her lungs are giving out. The twinkle in her eyes has faded. Why is this happening to her? Why is this happening to me? A mother should not have to watch helplessly as her daughter’s body lays lifeless in front of her. What did I ever do to deserve this? Was it something I didn’t do?
How am I supposed to explain this to Addisyn and Elianah? That God — the creator of everything; that Jesus — the man who died and rose from the grave to save all of humanity; and that the Spirit who cries out on our behalf — have turned their back on us.
God, how could you do this? Just speak and she will be healed. Father, help me. Help me to understand. Help me to overcome my bitterness, my hopelessness, my unbelief.”
Then God makes his presence known and begins to take hold of my heart. My Father calms my spirit and washes me with his peace. I take one long, deep breath that seems to bring things back into focus. He listens patiently as I pour out my cup. And for every question or lie I’ve spoken he has a rebuttal:
Hadley’s body is dying because sin entered the world and the wages of sin is death. And who are you to think that you are above suffering this side of heaven?
Help me to accept it and know that you will lift me up in due time.
I know the pain of losing a child Jacquin. Remember the cross? That was my Son.
You have suffered in every way possible, I know I am not alone.
You had no place in earning your salvation, the greatest gift of all. There was not a thing you could do or not do for that and the same holds true for Hadley’s life.
Okay, I will take heart that it is in my weakness that you are strong.
I knit her together in your womb. I knew her before the world began. I have plans for her, plans to prosper her and not to harm her, plans to give her and YOU hope and a FUTURE.
I see now you have not left us nor forsaken us. I didn’t ask for it to be this way, so help me to let go. Don’t make her stay on this world a minute longer than you need her here. Father, not my will but your will be done.
A familiar story
Just recently, I was reading in my Bible for a study I was doing. I read through one particular scripture several times. It felt and sounded so familiar, but not in the Sunday school lesson way. It felt like something I too have experienced.
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
(Mark 14:32-36, NIV)
This passage takes us right into the middle of the garden with Jesus where we watch him agonize.
He knew the path he would have to walk, the gruesome death he would suffer, and the utter destruction that his soul would endure separated from the Father. Even knowing these things, he still asked one last time for God to relent. But with the time upon him, all Jesus could do now was give up control and rest in the sovereign will of his Father.
My own garden
I see now that these were the steps my heart followed. I agonized in my garden on that stretch of road in the middle of my car. I knew the path that lay before me, that I would have to watch her die, and the near destruction my soul would endure.
Knowing these things, I cried out to God for help and he answered. He answered by helping me to let go. Let go of the life I had planned for Hadley.
Let go of my role as her mother.
Let go of being angry, bitter, and hopeless.
He replaced what I let go of with his joy, his peace, and his hope.
Now, before you get this super spiritual view of me, you need to hear the rest of the story:
I had done everything I could to avoid the garden. It was not a place I willingly entered. I didn’t pour over the Scriptures looking for answers daily and I was not on my knees praying over my daughter faithfully. My church family was doing that and even people I didn’t know were praying as Hadley’s story made its way through various prayer chains. But I learned that disconnecting and compartmentalizing was the only way I could get through the day-to-day things.
But God. Then God. Now God.
Despite my struggle and avoidance of the garden, God drew me in. His Spirit groaned loud in my soul. He led me, moved me, and sustained me to engage in my hardest battle yet: releasing control.
He met me in the in-between, after I had walked out, and before I got home. He listened patiently and responded with truth. And he replaced my questions — not with answers — but with confidence that he is sovereign and trustworthy.
I released control and relaxed my grip. And on that day as I held Hadley in my arms, both of us completely at peace, I was confident of God’s goodness and savored each minute that I got to be that close to heaven. I cherish those last minutes before she passed away and see now how my time spent in the garden, on the road, inside my car — paved the way for me to enter into that holy moment with grace and hope.
About the Guest Writer
Jacquin Rogers grew up in Sweetwater, Texas where she met her future husband and best friend in band in the 6th grade. She has been married to Jason for 16 years. They have 4 beautiful daughters Addisyn, Elianah, Hadley, and Raelyn.
Jacquin is a stay at home mom who can often be found teaching her girls, having coffee dates, and playing table top games with her family.
See all the Guest Posts from this Summer Series: