By Lisa Gungor
Editor’s Note: This post, taken from Lisa Gungor’s new book The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen, touches on the moments after she, her family, and her close friends discover that her newborn daughter Lucie (Lucette) has Down syndrome. Lisa wrote a song about Lucie titled “Light,” which is what Lucette means. Click here to watch the music video.
I can still see my best friend Rachael’s face. I looked back at her on my right. She smiled with tears in her eyes, a knowing smile. I had no idea how I got lucky enough to have her by my side; she gave me an anchor in the spinning room because she understood without a single word. Her brother, Ben, has Down syndrome and autism. She knew the questions my heart was diving into: Will she connect with me? Will she speak? Will her heart be okay? Will she live? Will this life be hard on her?
I saw my mother. She came into the hospital room with a wide smile and water for me. “I just left the room for a minute. She is here already?” She beamed and laughed, then saw my tears, asked what was wrong. I told her the news, and she smiled with a mixture of joy and pain. She hugged me, and I felt like a child again.
My in-laws came in. Momma G hugged me and looked right into my eyes, told me how much our girl was loved. Pappa G took my face in his hands and leaned in so close. “We love this little girl so much,” he said. “And she was born into the perfect family.”
I remembered meeting them the night Michael taught me how to swing dance in the driveway. I had no idea the kind of people I was meeting that night and how they would help my very body in the future. Oh, this is what family is about—support when you crumble, breath when your lungs fail, believing in you when you don’t believe in yourself, seeing you at your worst and not only remaining in the room but leaning in. It’s scary to let someone in that close.
My friends Bre and Jamie came in and sat by the foot of the bed. My sister stood by me on one side. My doctor and pediatrician came along the other; she’d delivered my first and was with me through my whole second pregnancy and delivery. She leaned in and hugged me so long and fully, I was grateful to have such a kind woman help me guide our girl into the world.
Then Michael came over. He asked everyone to leave, saying he needed a minute with me. He had just spoken with his sister, and he needed to tell me something she had said to him.
He put his hand on me, and it felt so strange because I knew what it meant. He was going to pray, but after the long absence of it, I wasn’t sure what to do—join in? Close my eyes? Laugh in shock? I also wasn’t sure whether he knew just who he was touching. Did he see the monster rising in me? Was he ashamed with me? Ashamed I had failed our girl?
He laid his hand on my stomach and in tears said, “For you created her inmost being; you knit her together in her mother’s womb.”
I grasped his hand, and we just sobbed.
“She is fearfully and wonderfully made.”
I have a hard time putting words to this moment. It was a great summit in my life. It’s like something broke and another reality opened up. I had never seen Michael as I did right then. It was like pain had stripped us down to the bare bones, and we saw a different side of each other, a different reality. It was like waking up during surgery and feeling your guts being ripped out of your body, but afterward feeling more alive, more awake—something that wouldn’t have made sense to me before.
The spinning slowed as we held each other on the hospital bed. We were silent for a while. “Where’s our girl?” I asked. I just had to hold my girl, that was all I wanted and needed. She was away for tests; thankfully, they let us in to see her. I scooped her out of her bed and put her tiny body on mine. Peace pulsed through my veins. She opened her eyes and all of the spinning stopped. I saw not medical conditions or uncertainty. I was struck with the wonder of this tiny human.
She looked right up at me. I stared and it was like a wide deep pool of something I didn’t really have a word for. Mystery? Love? Light? Wonder? If there were a word that encompassed all of that, then that would be it.
I felt my phone vibrate. It was my father. I knew he’d heard the news. I knew he was worried sick. I answered while I held Lucie in my arms.
“Hi, Dad,” was all I could get out.
“Hi, honey,” I heard him say through tears. “I just want you to know . . . You need to know how much I love this little girl. I love this little girl, I love her . . . She was born into the perfect family. You can do this,” and we both just sobbed into our cell phones like we were right there with each other. And I never would have imagined this moment happening between us. In all the times I just wasn’t sure whether we would ever understand each other, if we would ever get over all that had happened or just be okay with who the other was, I never imagined we would ever share this sort of connection. Sharing in suffering—it does something to a soul. It’s like a beautiful sad piece of music undoing things so our souls are more alive.
Adapted from The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder by Lisa Gungor. Click here to learn more about this title.
Lisa Gungor thought she knew her own story: small-town girl meets boy in college and they blissfully walk down the aisle into happily ever after. Their Christian faith was their lens and foundation for everything—their marriage, their music, their dreams for the future. But as their dreams began to come true, she began to wonder if her religion was really representative of the ‘good news’ she had been taught.
She never expected the questions to lead as far as they did when her husband told her he no longer believed in God. The death of a friend, the unraveling of relationships and career, the loss of a worldview, and the birth of a baby girl with two heart defects all led Lisa to a tumultuous place; one of depression and despair. And it was there that her perspective on everything changed. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen tells the story of what can happen when you dare to let go of what you think to be true; to shift the kaleidoscope and see new colors and dimension by way of broken pieces.
Lisa’s eloquent, soul-stirring memoir brings you to a music stage before thousands of fans and a front porch where two people whisper words that scare them to the core. It is the story of how doubt can spark the beginning of deeper faith; how a baby born with a broken heart can bring love and healing to the hearts of many, and ultimately, how the hardest experience in life often ends up saving us.