It’s almost Valentine’s Day.
And that means candy or flowers or both; dinner out or maybe takeout.
And let’s be honest. It’s a holiday for ladies, not men. Men fumble their way around the day, wavering between cards and compliments and steering clear of anything that would provoke an awkward stare or the dreaded eye-roll.
Don’t worry; I’ve got it covered… I think. Leaning toward takeout.
But “Love conquers all” and it is a decision not a day. At its finest it transcends even our decisions and envelops us in its power and majesty. In the famous words of scripture, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Sometimes love exceeds our understanding and our strength and spirits us from one place in our lives to another.
This story is like that.
Jon and Heather met through music, the universal language, while students at Carnegie Mellon University. An a cappella group brought them together and they were married six weeks after graduation..
They wanted children out of the gate and their friends cheered them on. Eight months seemed like eight years, but finally they conceived and Baby Boy Daley was born at 2:05pm, November 21st, 2002.
Complications from a breech birth brought new concerns, joy laced with fear. “No one has measured or weighed him, but we are guessing 8 pounds, and probably 21-22 inches in length. He was not breathing when he was born, and after receiving oxygen for a minute, 911 was called, and he was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.”
Somehow in the midst of it all the name Isaac was born.
“It’s the name that felt right for him when I was praying as Judy (a midwife) was doing CPR. Jon didn’t hear me say it, but he also wanted to name him Isaac. We didn’t discuss it until that night when he came home from the hospital.”
The following day Jon went to the hospital. Heather, still recovering, had sent a video message for Isaac.
News from the doctors was not good. Isaac had no brain activity. With the help of a friend Jon managed to make some calls to family and then spent time with Heather updating her on the situation. She managed to get to the hospital to hold and cuddle Isaac.
The next day nothing much had changed. The doctors told Jon that Isaac had been dead since birth. The jerky movements were the result of nerves not brain activity. After removing all the technology that had kept his body functioning, Heather, Jon and his mother washed Isaac.
In a private room family and friends spent the last moments together. Jon recalls that, “Isaac did cry once while we were in the private room. It was really great to hear him cry, as he hadn’t cried prior to that at all. He died after about an hour (3:32PM).”
In March of the next year, 2003, their church held a memorial service for Isaac. The music that had first brought Jon and Heather together now brought meaning and comfort to their loss. “Blessed Be Your Name” included the words, “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name!”
Heather made a cake for the occasion and wrote out her thoughts that she managed to read aloud:
“God allowed us to be with precious Isaac for two days. To hold him in my arms was an inexpressible joy! The most beautiful person I have ever seen. Made in the image of God!
“A new kind of love, that of a mother for her child, hit me with great force. It opened up new understanding of God’s love for us. But the greatest revelation did not come until later, after Isaac died.
“It is this: the love which God has for us is so great that He willingly sent His Son to die for us. That is the greatest blessing of them all.
“It is a good thing for us that I am not God, because I would not choose on my own for my son to die in someone’s place. God called Isaac from me, and made my heart willing.
“It was one thing to give the opportunity of life to someone else, once God had taken him. But I would not have given Isaac to the surgeons to give his organs to someone else, if he had not already died.
“Yet this is the great love of God! That He did not spare His only Son, but gave Him up as a ransom for many!
“I do not understand why God numbered Isaac’s days so few and it hurts very much, but even through his death, God has blessed us. He has sustained us mightily by His grace. Not only do we have to deal with the pain of death, but also the pain of investigation and unjust accusations.
“But yet God is still with us, keeping us from the point of no return. Sometimes we are clinging with only a fingernail. Sometimes we look around at our situation, panic, and start sinking. But then Jesus turns our faces back to His and lifts us up.
“He has opened our hearts to see our dependence on Him, and has softened them to His will. God also comforts us with His word. Many scriptures come to mind, or are brought to us, that fit our circumstances exactly.
“I have many questions that may never be answered, but God is blessing us still. He is good and He is love.”
At the end of the service they announced that they were expecting a child in November, a sibling for Isaac. Jonathan was born just days before the anniversary of Isaac’s death.
In the years since, Noah, Faith, Joy, Jeremiah and Nathaniel were born.
It’s a shame that we don’t talk about death more than we do. It’s like we stand on one side of a door with Death on the other side. We lock it tight, draw the blinds and continue to live our lives as though it wasn’t there.
But it is. It will stay there until, at the appointed time, the door opens and we go through it. It is often sudden, scary and unwelcome. The Bible calls it “the last enemy.” Jon is not willing to concede defeat. “Hard situations can pull people apart or bring them together. God will uphold us through any situation. We need to stick by him and have faith that he will bring us through.”
In other words God is good and love really does conquer all.
You can follow the Daley’s amazing journey of faith here.
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