Isaiah 41:13 (ESV)
For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”
In December, 1965, Susan had just had her second baby, another daughter, Balinda. Her two-year-old, Annette, became the baby's "second mother," always checking to make sure the baby was warm and dry. Susan and her husband were delighted with their daughters and the life they were making for their family. During that time, "We were in the process of moving from Moweaqua, a little town in Illinois, to Crown Point, Indiana," Susan says, "and one day I left the baby with my mother-in-law while I moved the last load from our old home." Susan's sister-in-law, little Annette and Susan dropped off the final load in Crown Pointe. On their way back to Moweaqua, Susan was involved in a car accident. Annette was killed instantly.
There is no way to describe the trauma of losing a child, of whatever age. But Susan did the best she could to go on with her life. Months passed, and in June, she discovered she was expecting again. For the first time since Annette's death, Susan felt happy. "The new baby would give Balinda someone to grow up with," she says, "and perhaps it would even help to fill the terrible void Annette had left." No one could take her daughter's place, but perhaps things wouldn't seem so empty now.
However, it was not to be. Just a few months later, Susan was rushed to the hospital. The baby, another daughter, was stillborn. Worse, doctors told Susan that she would never be able to have any more children.
It was another terrible blow. Susan looked in the mirror "and saw a person that God must not like very much. If he loved me, why did so many bad things happen to me?" She wondered. "I must be a terrible person." Shortly after Balinda's first birthday, the sorrow completely overwhelmed her. "After my husband left for work one morning, I took Balinda to my mother's house and asked her to babysit for me," Susan recalls. "Had my mother known what I had planned, she would never have left me walk out the door."
Susan went home, locked the door, closed all the curtains and sat down at her table with a large glass of water and a pile of pills. She wrote letters to her parents, her sisters, and her husband, telling them how sorry she was to be killing herself, but explaining that she was no good, and surely not the mother she should be. Why else would God have taken two of her babies?
Then, reluctantly, she began her letter to Balinda. How would she tell her baby daughter how much she loved her? "I want you to have a good life," she began, "You'll be a lot better off without me."
Suddenly, the front door opened!
Susan almost screamed. She had definitely locked the front door, and her husband had the only other key. But there stood her husband. "What are you doing home?" Susan asked him.
Her husband's eyes traveled to the water and the pills in front of her. Immediately he realized what Susan was attempting to do, and he rushed to the table, grabbed the pills and threw them all into the toilet. "Susan, you can't do this!" He protested. "We all need you!" Susan burst into tears.
The machine Susan's husband had been working on that day had broken down, and no one could find a replacement part. So her husband had been sent home early, the first time such a thing had ever happened to him. (Even more unusual, the replacement part was located just moments after he left the building.) "I think the angels were all over that one!" Susan says.
Most likely Susan was suffering from postpartum depression, but in 1965, not much was known about this difficult situation. Coupled with the grief over the loss of Annette, it had all become too much for her. But now that people knew, Susan was surrounded with help and care, and gradually she came to see that this desperate act was not the answer. In fact, God had planned a wonderful life for her, including a baby boy, born five years later despite the doctors' predictions.
"When I look back, I thank God for each and every experience," Susan says. "Had I succeeded that day, I would have missed out on so many blessings-my son and daughter's beautiful children, my family and friends. I am so thankful that His angels watched over me, and I know He walks with me moment by moment."
Susan hopes that anyone who is contemplating suicide or has lost a child may read this and understand that it is okay to go on. "You cannot curl up and die," she says. "Life goes on, and it can be a most beautiful and blessed life too." Just hold on, and trust.
Hold on to God today no matter the circumstance.
Dear Lord, we pray for strength when the circumstances around us are more then we can handle. Help us lean completely upon You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.