Oh, Jubilee. Beautiful, precious Jubilee. I love you so much my heart hurts. Not a second goes by without a thought of you. I burst into tears over and over again just when I thought I was all cried out.
Thank you for letting me tell just a piece of your story from my perspective, because your mommy and daddy are too weary and heavy with grief to do it, and we want the world to know about you. May my words honor you and be a gift to your precious parents.
Jesus, be near.
Oh, Jubilee. I long to hold you in my arms just one more time. No, a million more times. Like it was supposed to be. I was supposed to be your fun Aunt Marla. Just like your mama Bethany and Aunt Stephanie were for my girls before they had their own little ones (okay, so they’re still Fun Aunts). You were supposed to be best friends with Aunt Stephi’s baby girl, due just a month or so after you.
This isn’t how it was supposed to be.
We can’t make things better. We can’t bring you back. Oh, how I wish we could rewind the past two days and make them go away and rewrite your story, but we can’t.
But we can remember you and celebrate you and honor you with our words, so I want to do that. Even though part of me wants to keep you to ourselves. You’re just that precious and valuable and special. But I also know you’re too amazing not to share. And our God is going to get so much glory through the stories you tell with your little life.
You were so wanted and loved, Jubilee Kate Peters. You still are. Only now the wanting and the loving is all mixed up with deep pain instead of just joy and anticipation. Our joy is made deeper by our sorrow. And our anticipation has stretched from two short months to what seems like eternity. And is.
We don’t understand, Jubilee. We don’t understand why God allowed a mysterious infection to invade your tiny, growing body and fill you with fluid to the point that your heart could no longer go on beating. We don’t know why Jesus scooped you up in his arms and made heaven your only and forever home.
We want you here with us, Jubilee Kate.
I can’t even write these words through my tears, baby girl. This is the deepest grief I’ve ever felt.
I know you know this, Jubilee, but you have a mommy, Bethany, and a daddy, Stewart, who would give their lives for you they love you so much. They are amazing parents. So, so amazing and loving and wonderful and fun.
You have a 5-year-old sister, Isabelle Kate, who begged Mommy to give you the same middle name as her, “because Mommy and Lila have the same middle name.” She loved you fiercely and always will.
You have a 3-year-old brother, Stewart Jack (we call him Jack), who loved to kiss Mommy’s belly and say “Jubilee” in that adorable little boy voice of his. He would have protected you with play swords and shields like nobody’s business.
And you have a 1-year-old sister, Lila Joy, who might not have exactly realized she was about to be a big sister, but as soon as she met you, she was gonna love you to pieces. And you would have been such sweet playmates.
You were supposed to grow up with them and be their adored and protected little sister. They were going to help change you and burp you and put your socks back on when you kicked them off and make you giggle with their silly antics.
You were supposed to go on fun picnics and big hikes and go camping and ride in sweet remote-controlled contraptions your daddy rigged up.
You were going to wear Lila’s hand-me-downs and share a bedroom with your sisters and beg Mommy for a little brother someday.
Oh, there was so much joy waiting for you in your beautiful family!
But, instead, on Sunday, June 29, 2014, about 11 weeks before your scheduled appearance into this world, your mommy became very worried because she hadn’t felt you move in awhile. Daddy took her to the hospital, and they found your heartbeat! Praise Jesus!
But then an ultrasound showed pounds of extra fluid in you and in Mommy. Your heartbeat was weakening. The doctors gave them devastating news. You couldn’t survive outside of Mommy. And there was little to no chance you’d make it at all.
Oh, the agony of that day for Mommy and Daddy and everyone who loves them–and you. It all happened so suddenly. Tears and pleading prayers were sobbed all over Ohio and the Carolinas (where your Aunt Stephi, Uncle Daniel, Aunt Jess, Uncle Josh, and cousins live) and beyond.
All night long, we cried out to God. All of your many aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents on both sides of your huge family. God of miracles, please let our Jubilee live!!
And when Mommy went in for an ultrasound Monday morning, June 30, they gave her news no mommy ever, ever, ever wants to hear.
Your baby has no heartbeat.
No one but your mommy and daddy will ever know the thoughts and emotions and the weight of grief they felt yesterday and will feel for so, so long to come. But our own grief is deep and real and heart-crushing, and we pray God gives Mommy and Daddy some comfort from the fact that we share their pain and love for you.
Jubilee, Jesus was there when your heart stopped beating. I can’t wait to hear what it was like for you to meet him face to face.
And Jesus was with your Mommy and Daddy through every minute of waiting, of the news that Mommy needed a c-section, through the operation, and through every minute they spent with you saying hello and good-bye all at once. They smiled and cried and hurt and thanked God for the blessing of being your parents.
God’s Holy Spirit was so thick in that little waiting room, in Mommy’s hospital room, in the operating room, and in the recovery room. So many heart-wrenching, Spirit-filled prayers were lifted up on behalf of you and your loving parents. So much glory to God. I can’t even tell you, Jubilee.
As we marveled over every perfect part of your body–those lips and fingers and toes that look just like your brother’s and sisters’, we grieved for what we’ve lost here on earth. Heaven seems so far away, baby girl. Your face was so perfectly peaceful. You looked like you were dreaming sweet dreams. What comfort that gave us that your death was peaceful and free from pain and suffering.
We also found great comfort in our shared adoration of and love for you. And our hearts hurt for those who wanted to meet you and didn’t get to.
It nearly tore me in two to leave you last night, knowing I would never see you again. I was so, so thankful to hear of all the people who got to meet you today and the pictures you got taken in your beautiful dress with Mommy and Daddy and Isabelle, Jack, and Lila. My heart swelled when I heard that God gave Mommy and Daddy peace when it was time to let you go and that Mommy is finally going to get some rest.
But man, the days and weeks and months and years to come are going to be so, so hard. You’ve changed all of our lives forever and ever, little girl. We will never be the same for knowing and loving our little Jubilee.
You won’t be with us physically, and we can hardly breathe over the sorrow of that, but your name will be on our lips, and your face will be in our minds and hearts for ever and ever. We will honor you and celebrate you and find beautiful ways to make you a part of every single thing we do.
You are loved and missed beyond words, Jubilee Kate. Beyond words.