When I was little, our homeschooling morning would always start with a half hour during which we read our Bibles and journaled. My mom always encouraged us to ask hard questions and not take our faith at face value. We always had a dictionary within reach. One day, I came across the word “Corban” in Mark. The dictionary was no help, so I believe we ended up pulling out Strong’s Concordance to find out what Corban meant. Strong’s defines Corban as “a sacred gift.” Other dictionaries and more recent translations make slight modifications such as “a sacrificial gift,” “a gift dedicated to God,” or even “a sacrifice owed to God.”
When the doctor told us that there was little chance they could stop me from and delivering and an even smaller chance that Cory would survive, I felt nothing but shock. I was sure I was having Braxton Hicks contractions and the doctors would shake their heads and send me home. However, the instant panic on the sweet nurse’s face when she saw me go through a contraction was enough to convince me that I wouldn’t be going home anytime soon. Trapped in a world made of blinding physical pain as the doctors tipped me upside down for the entire night and tried experimental drugs to stop my body from forcing out the baby, I had a lot of time to think.
The name we had chosen was not the right one. It was a great name and maybe someday we’ll have another son to use it on. But this baby was not going to be ours except through some miracle that I couldn’t bring myself to expect. The name Corban, which had intrigued me since I was a little girl and which I had discussed with Morgan only to eventually reject in naming negotiations, kept coming to mind. Our perfect, beautiful little baby with my nose and Morgan’s everything else was never really going to belong to us. The fluttering heartbeat that I had fallen so deeply in love with was never going to beat outside of me. Morgan was almost instantly on board with the name change. We added Josiah later. “Yahweh heals.” We remained utterly convinced throughout the whole unbearable three days that God could intervene with a miracle and heal my body and Cory’s. His middle name expressed our hope that God would intervene and his first name expressed our willingness to submit to God’s will if He did not. Corban was always going to be a sacred gift, one we never expected from God and one that we were only allowed to know on this side of eternity for the briefest of windows. Corban was our sacrificial gift owed to God. When he opened his little eyes for the first time, it wasn’t to see us. The first person he ever saw was his Creator.
The last week has been made up of the most devastatingly painful, shocking, and unbearable days of my entire life. I don’t think Morgan and I will ever really “get over” losing our child in such a violent and unexpected way, even if it becomes easier to bear with time. We are still reeling and directionless as our lives seem to be rerouting wildly from the track we had expected it to take. I don’t expect us to think of much else for a very long time. That being said, I have never in my life been more convinced of the sovereignty, grace, and creative power of God. After holding Corban, and seeing the incomparable beauty of this tiny, perfect child, I don’t know how I could have any other response than awe and thankfulness for the small time we were allowed to spend with him. Every single person in our lives is on loan from God. Cory’s loan was a quick one, and all the more sweet for his short time with us. All we’ve been able to hold in our hearts these days is heavy grief and overwhelming gratitude. We are certainly broken, but we will absolutely heal. And someday, I have every intention of holding my son’s hand and telling him how deeply he is loved and how sorely he is missed.
Thank you to everyone who has reached out to share their stories, send flowers, give encouragement, offer assistance, and express their love. Your prayers and light have buoyed us up in this stormy week. We have not been able to answer everyone yet, but we will endeavor to do so in the days to come.