My boss asked me about a specific piece of footage the other day. I had been on the shoot when our Graduate Assistant shot the footage and my boss wanted to track down a specific scene. With confidence I replied that the footage was shot between the end of September and the end of October 2016. We checked the files and sure enough the folder was there, labeled October 19th 2016.
There was nothing particularly special about that shoot for it to stick out in my mind save one thing- I had been pregnant. I remember going on the shoot that day and it was unbelievably hot and we did a lot of walking around town. Save a very small handful of people, no one knew at that time. I vaguely remember feeling very exhausted and beat by the time we made it back to the office.
Ten days later we lost the baby.
Today would have been Hazel’s first birthday, had she lived. I should be in the midst of planning a birthday party, picking out an adorable outfit and whipping up some cute invitations to celebrate. But Hazel died before we could meet and all I have left of her is her “Hazel Box” and a promise. For the sake of our other kids and for the sake of our family, I made a promise that her loss wouldn’t be in vain.
Around this time last year I was a wreck. With Hazel’s due date and major forward motion on our new house happening the same week, I felt so lost and overwhelmed. I was having panic attacks multiple times every day and I felt like my world was crashing down around me. I remember pleading with God to remind me that he was in control and that we were making the right decision. A couple of months earlier we had decided to move forward with our plan to eventually move, for me to quit my job, and for us to start homeschooling.
And then the strangest thing happened. Less than two weeks later I got an email from a friend. It is someone I have known for years. I worked with his wife when I first started in the film industry and I was always very close to her. I got to know her husband over the years and the couple has always been such an encouragement to me. He is the man I asked to photograph each of my children after they were born, but we hadn’t corresponded in the years after Baby E. He’s not on social media and we don’t have many mutual friends so when his email arrived I was taken aback. The gist of it boiled down to the fact that he had been compelled to pray for our family recently, but he didn’t know why. After praying for us he decided he needed to write to me. In his email he talked about raising children in godly households, about the importance of focusing on their well being, and the value of teaching them at home. He walked through several passages of scripture he felt were relevant and concluded, “He wants us to use his standard for what constitutes a godly family – no matter what the world is doing. What ever that takes.”
I’m not a superstitious person. I don’t look for signs. I don’t randomly open my Bible and point to an arbitrary verse and expect that it will be relevant to what I am going through. That’s not me. But guys, I sat there blown away. This man had NO IDEA what we were going through. He didn’t know about Hazel. He didn’t know about our plans. He didn’t know the ache I had to be home with my kids and to be able to homeschool them. But I had told God I was scared. I had asked him if such drastic plans were really necessary or if we could just maintain our status quo. I had pleaded for him to bring our plans to a screeching halt if it wasn’t in His will, and then He sent me that response.
“What ever that takes.”
Ok, if big change is what God was calling us to do, then big change it was going to be. Sure, I’ve had doubts and fears since then but I keep being reminded of that message and the countless other times I have seen Him working along this path.
So today I fulfilled the promise. Today I had my exit interview at work. I still have twelve more days in the office but today it felt final. I hadn’t realized it was planned for Hazel’s birthday until I was on my way to work this morning, but it seemed so very fitting. It’s my Happy Birthday to Hazel, the gift I can give my family that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t known her.
So until we meet face to face, my sweet Hazel Marie, Happy Birthday from mommy.