Illinois Journal–Swirling Leaves

written on 11/2/2002

When I looked outside my window this morning, I saw the falling leaves, and I knew that all was lost.

My wife has been pregnant for nine weeks. Somewhere, our family picked up the tradition of giving pet names to the little ones in utero. So my wife dubbed our child “Cricket”. That was last week.

Late Wednesday night, she started bleeding. We rushed to the ER. It took them four hours to tell us that they didn’t have a clue what was going on. “See the doctor,” they said. So we scheduled the appointment. Early Friday, another appointment cancelled to squeeze us in. Was Cricket alive? Was she dying? No one could tell us.

Crystal began to bleed again Thursday afternoon. Back to the ER. It only took them two hours this time to confess ignorance. “Make sure that you see the doctor,” they said. He will know. He will know.

This morning I tried to wake up early. There was much to be done before we could get to the doctor. But I couldn’t. I was so tired. And Crystal started to bleed again. We tried to hurry. Showers. A quick cup of coffee. And outside, the falling leaves.

Autumn is the season of dying. Even in winter, I can see the soft slumber of the earth as it awaits its springtime renewal. But autumn is the season of dying, and I saw it this morning. The trees, dropping their leaves. The air was full of them, the leaves, and they felt like the touch of the Reaper, his cloak not black but a swirl of autumn colors. They fell within my heart, and I felt the cold conviction that my child would not live.

I almost wish that we still tore our clothes and threw ashes in our hair. At least then I could somehow express what I’m feeling. My sorrow I keep under control. I must. It’s in some compartment of my mind, and I let it out sparingly. Must be careful. My wife needs me. My family needs me. If I gave vent to my grief, I would not be able to function, not able to lead them, not able to care for them. It is only in the gaps, when no one needs me, when the children are given into someone else’s care, when Crystal is resting, that I can allow myself to release my sorrow. Bleeding out my grief. Like my wife is bleeding out now.

But what else is there to do? When I left Isaac at the Lansberry’s today, he didn’t want me to go. So I told him that I needed his help, that I was off to fight the monsters. But what is there to fight? I cannot shield Cricket from the fate that awaits her. She could be dying, and I can only watch. Helpless.

Swirling leaves.

It is in these times, when no one is looking, when no one needs me, that I hug myself and cry.

My wife saw the leaves this morning, too. “Look at all these leaves!” she said. “They look like butterflies.” And they do. I could see it, a beautiful swarm of butterflies, dancing on the autumn wind. And I remembered my God, Who can turn dying leaves into butterflies. He knows. He knows. And if He wants, Cricket will live. She is in His hands, and it is His decision.

But I so want her to live. I want her to see the bright blue of the sky, and the beauty of the trees. I want her to hear my voice and reach out to touch my face. I want her to grow and sing and dance.

But I also know that, if the Lord carries her home, it will be because of His mercy. She will never see the righteous suffer, as I have. She will never feel the pain of a friend’s betrayal, never stand at a graveside and mourn. The brokenness of this fallen world will pass her by, as she vaults into Glory. She will enter directly into the chorus that sings the praise of God in a pure and undefiled tongue, in the lands beyond the Sun where the holy ones of God forever live. Is this such a terrible fate for my little one?

I don’t know. I am torn. My heart breaks in two.

But my God turns leaves into butterflies and teardrops into dewdrops. Perhaps He will grant me my wish. But He will do what is best.

I have nothing else to cling to.


In the autumn wind
Butterfly leaves swirl–
Listen! Cricket’s song

Today, on November 2, 2002, Naomi Katherine Ben-Ezra went home to be with Jesus. He gently called to her and she leaped into his arms. We called her “Cricket”. He called her home.

I will go to her, but she will not come to me.


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