Editor’s note: On June 19, Barbara and Dennis Rainey’s newborn granddaughter Molly lost her fight for life after only six days on this earth. After struggling with Rebecca and Jacob through the full range of emotions, it was time to come back home. But things were not the same.

Today we flew home, Dennis and I.  Part of me was ready to go home, but part of me wanted still to be near Rebecca and Jacob. I said as we boarded the plane that all I wanted to do when I got home was go to bed for about 24 hours. The long 12-day journey with Rebecca and Jacob was beginning to catch up with me.

When we arrived home and I did a quick scan of the house and yard to survey what had changed while we were gone, but it felt so empty, so like it was when we left.

But I was not like I was when I left.

I immediately got the box that held all the stuff that didn’t fit in my carry-on bag and unloaded it to find the photos safely placed in the sturdy flat bottom of the box. I wanted my house touched by Molly. The page of Molly’s sunset photos, the black and whites of the memorial service and the pink card with her footprints are propped up on the kitchen counter. And I cried again. I missed Molly.

I don’t want to return to ‘normal’ life.

I tried to take a nap and eventually dozed off for a short while, but my mind was whirling with the memories, the songs, the verses, the hundreds of evidences of God’s mercy and love we saw in 12 days.

Yesterday Rebecca and I went to visit Molly’s grave. We cried a little, I did more than she, I think, but it was a sweet hour spent sitting on the grass talking about Molly’s precious life, about God’s purposes, our faith, and the amazing work of the Holy Spirit within us. It’s the kind of talk a parent dreams of having with their child, friend to friend, sister in Christ to sister in Christ, with no rush, no feelings of being preached to, just pondering the wonders of the Creator God. Only my vision of that conversation was never imagined at the side of a tiny grave freshly mounded with sod baking dry in the summer sun.

Dennis is opening the stacks of mail as I write. It has to be done, but I’m not ready for the mundane.  We’ve been on holy ground.  We’ve experienced the power of the Almighty. We’ve been touched by Molly and I don’t want the scent of her sweet life to go away. The nearness of God is now more precious than ever. I know the trivial numbs me. I wish it didn’t.

Our families have been in a valley. A sacred valley. Hemmed in on all sides by the pain of loss and grief and suffering. We’ve discovered the meaning of words we’ve known but haven’t been close to in many years, or for some of our children, words they’ve never known: anguish, darkness, sorrow, mystery, agony, distress. But each of us has also been touched by sovereignty, purpose, kindness, grace, mercy, presence and immeasurable love. Molly led us there.

I can’t quit singing “Untitled Hymn” by Chris Rice. I keep imagining Molly dancing with Jesus, laughing in glory. She brought us a touch of heaven in her seven days on this planet and left us with a greater vision of God. Her life was indeed mighty and magnificent.

Several years ago I discovered a book of Puritan prayers. This afternoon as I’m resisting the pull of normalcy I remembered the first prayer in the book, “The Valley of Vision”. A few lines from that prayer are:

“Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
Where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights.
Let me learn that the valley is the place of vision.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from the deepest wells,
And the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty
Thy glory in my valley.”

I want to stay in this deep well where we’ve seen stars shine. I want to stay in this valley that I may continue to see the light of the glory of God’s great goodness. Yes, we have been touched by Molly, but it was God who gave her and took her and revealed Himself to us in a myriad of ways that we might know Him more fully.

I gave Rebecca this quote about suffering that has given me great hope over the years.

“The suffering caused by shattered dreams must not be thought of as something to relieve if we can or endure if we must. It’s an opportunity to be embraced, a chance to discover our desire for the highest blessing God wants to give us, AN ENCOUNTER WITH HIMSELF.”

We have been embraced by God.
We have encountered the Almighty in the valley.
We have been touched by Molly.
Molly touched us with His great love.
Molly, we will never forget you because you brought us the sweet and powerful embrace of God.
We will love you forever and can’t wait to see you soon in the palace of the King!