Why Poplar Blossoms?


From year to year, I forget.  There have been so many other seasons since that one.  I have all but forgotten the excitement, the anticipation, the expectancy, the loss.  God remembers.

It was early Spring of 1996 that we found out we were expecting another baby.  With two boys, of course, I was dreaming of pink frilly things.  Baby names were being tossed around, nursery colors entertained and the news that our clan was growing again was being shared with friends and family alike.

Our first ultrasound revealed the tiniest peanut of a baby with a strong heartbeat.  Our boys were speculating whether this new life was a brother or a sister and my dreams were becoming pinker by the day!  A month later, at the second OB visit, all dreaming stopped. The heartbeat had stopped.  Even now, as I am writing, I can remember the disbelief that the life of this baby had stopped and would not be coming back.  I numbly listened to the doctor and nurses issue the normal platitudes and reasoning,  “Nature knows best.  We can only assume there was something wrong with this baby and this is the body’s way of taking care of it.  There is no reason to believe that you won’t be able to try again in a few months.”

Nature?  How dare you assign my baby to the whims of, “Nature”.  No, this is God’s doing and that makes it all the more painful.  Why, God?  Why start a life and then end it?  What is the point of letting a heart beat only to stop it?  Why? Why? Why?

To make matters worse, my body never engaged in a natural miscarriage.  I was forced to have a DNC, a ‘common’ procedure to get rid of the tissue.  Tissue???  This was my baby! Insult to injury was heaped on as the ‘procedure’ was done on my husband’s birthday. Birthday and deathday all in the same day. I went home with a cold, deadened and angry posture toward God.  This wasn’t right.  This wasn’t fair.  For weeks, I cried with no understanding and an ache that would not be comforted.  Friends, who had similar experiences, spoke into my distress and assured me that time was the healer of all things and that the pain of my heart would lessen.  That might be true but my angst with God would not be so quickly resolved.  Convinced that He did not care, I became sullen and withdrawn in a private and emotional battle with God.  Of course, one does not have private battles with God.  Thankfully, He is more committed to relationship and healing than we are.  Thankfully, while He may not always reveal the, “Why”, he always reveals his love.

In early May, my sweet husband was determined to get me out of the house.  He took me to a beautiful botanical garden that was a few miles from our home.  We silently held hands and began to meander the paths that wound thru the cultivated plantings.  Daffodils, Jonquils and Crocuses were everywhere.  Green points were pushing upward in the rich soil eager to make their appearance in the Spring show.  The Sun’s evening rays filtered thru the towering trees creating a fairylike setting.  Sorrow washed over me again as the contrast between so much life, hope and promise and the death, despair and emptiness was before me.  We made our way to a concrete bench where I collapsed in sobs. My husband held me not knowing what to say.  My mind screamed with the same questions, “God, don’t you care?  Why did you start this?  What was the point?”

As my sobs subsided, time seemed to pause.  I sat in the stillness of the place and moment and was quiet.  In the glinting sun above us, my eye caught the movement of something.  I looked up and saw an object floating downward.  Mesmerized, I watched as it landed at our feet and I could distinguish what it was.  It was a Poplar blossom.  It was perfectly formed.  Seemingly, there was no reason why it should have been disconnected from its branch but it was.  I bent over and picked it up.  Made up of delicate parts with sublte shades of green, yellow and orange, I was amazed with its beauty.  As I held the flower in my hand,  God began to speak to my heart.  He assured me that the child I had carried for such a brief time was full of the same beauty and delicate structure.  My child had a purpose, whether brought to full term or prematurely “disconnected” from me.  I drank in these soul truths and had the first stirrings of hope beyond the pain.  This process, this painful journey of life and death,  wasn’t a whim of Nature; I had never believed that.  Could it be, though, that this loss was actually an invitation to see and know God in a more intimate way?  My mind began to think on Jesus’ miracle of raising Lazerus from the dead and his conversation with Martha at the tomb.

“Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

There was a glory and purpose in the death.  There was potential to see God in a glorious way that would not have been possible if Jesus had simply prevented Lazerus from dying.  To behold a lifeless body, entombed for four days, emerge alive again; what an unimaginable scene and spectacle.  God does not waste tears and sorrow.

While there would be no resurrection of my baby’s life, there was beginning to be a resurrection in my soul.   God was extending to me a request to participate in something more glorious; the knowledge of Him.

Like I said, over the years I have forgotten this pain, the garden scene and even the Poplar Blossom.  But God never forgets.  Every year, without fail,  he sends me a beautiful reminder that he has saved my tears in a bottle, that He remembers the sanctity and purpose of that baby’s life, and that He was there with me then and that He is with me now.  Every year, he brings a Poplar Blossom across my path.  For several years, it would be from trees in our own backyard.  One year, it was by a fishing hole in the mountains. Another time, it was in a parking lot.  Each year, I catch my breath as He catches my heart. God does not waste the pain. God remembers.