From Grief to Joy
A Letter to Anne


Tonight is the eve of your fifth birthday.

Five years since they rushed me into the operating room for an emergency cesarean 
at twenty-three weeks gestational age.

Five years since they hooked you to a respirator and IVs and you weighed only one pound and six ounces.
Five years since they took you away and flew you on an airplane 
to the Intensive Care Nursery in San Francisco.
I got to look at you in your incubator just once before the flight, 
and I saw you stretch your scrawny, impossibly tiny legs.

When I was released from the hospital I got into the car and looked up at a hospital sign 
above the parking space that said, "Pick up your baby here." 
I cried all the way home because you were far away and my arms were empty.

Five years since we traveled to San Francisco to be near you.

Five years since I reached inside the incubator to rest my hand on your warm little back, 
and spoke quiet words of love to you.

Five years since I knelt by my bedside weeping and praying that you would survive.

You did survive even though the doctors doubted you would.  
You finally came home to live with us, with your oxygen line and monitors attached.  
It was a happy day but more shock was to come soon after.

I cried in my pillow after they told me you were visually impaired, 
and your retinas were distorted from Retinopathy of Prematurity.  
I cried all the way home after the neurologist told us that you had severe cerebral palsy. 
I fell into a deep pit of feeling sorry for myself, and for you, because of your disabilities. 
Even though there were happy moments, I couldn't shake my deep grief.

Then one day as I prayed in church, I heard Jesus speaking to me. 
He said, "It is time to stop grieving about Anne, and to rejoice in her life."

What simple but amazing words! 
A miracle happened that day. 
All the grief and sadness lifted off of me, and I began to feel joy in its place!

I love you so much!
Your beaming smile lights up the day like the morning sun. 
I'm so happy that you are in our lives and that we can know you. 
Your sweet spirit brings such joy to our whole family.

This world is not our home. 
I know with all my heart that on the day you see Jesus in heaven, 
that he will touch you, and you will be completely healed of all physical disabilities. 
You will be "walking and leaping and praising God."

I am so excited because your Papa bought you an electric train for your birthday tomorrow. 
With great care he mounted the tracks on a wooden door, 
and wired it so that you can make it go by operating a switch. 
In my mind I can already hear your brother's and sister's excited voices saying, 
"Make it go, Anne! Make it go!" 
And I see your delighted smile as they cheer you on and enjoy the train with you.

Anne, you are God's gift to us.


Your Mom (Linda Dillon)

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV