(By Judy Apsenson)
From my earliest memories, I lived in a wonderful world! I thrived in the love and peace of a happy home where my parents’ love for God, for each other, and for my siblings made life rich and secure. I was also surrounded by kids from the Hatboro Gospel Hall Sunday School in a neighborhood where we lived like “extended family,” being in one another’s homes at all hours of the day and night. It was a life anyone would love and cherish….and covet for their own children.
It was from out of this wonderful existence that the Lord moved my family to Arizona, to a life where everything was new and all the security I’d known was removed. In the year following the relocation, after many empty professions of faith that were made during every gospel series through my early years, the Lord reached down and stirred my soul once again.
As a guilty sinner, I pondered God’s Word and my need to be saved and to be sure of it. I knew all about salvation but just couldn’t make it personal. Suddenly, I realized that there was nothing I could do; the work was done at the cross! Christ was MY Savior. I was wondrously saved! It was a joyous moment and my life was forever changed.
My family returned to Hatboro a few years later, and shortly after that, I got married. It was an exciting beginning to all that I had dreamed of and two years later, I became pregnant. About six months into the pregnancy, I became very concerned about this baby. There was no medical reason whatsoever, as my pregnancy was perfectly normal and I couldn’t put my finger on what was bothering me.
One night, I simply knelt by my bed in the silver light of the moon and told the Lord that I wasn’t sure why I felt so strange, but that I needed Him to help me be the best mother I could be to this baby. He gave me peace as I gave my needy, heavy heart to Him, and I rested easier for the remaining three months.
The big day arrived and I had a healthy delivery. Our little Candice was a good-sized baby. When I waved from the hospital window to the last of the visiting family members that evening, I blissfully lay down for a much-needed rest.
Within a few short moments, two doctors came in, carrying my precious little bundle. It was then that I was told there were real concerns. Candice had been born with a chromosomal abnormality. The milky cataracts on her pupils were pointed out and also some other traits which a normal eye wouldn’t necessarily notice.
When the doctors left, I was alone, speechless, and numb. My mind took me back to the night when I had asked God for peace about this unborn child. I confess that I was totally unprepared for all the emotions I felt.
The whirlwind of events began with my tiny three-day-old infant on a big gurney. She had eye surgeries and finally was fitted for soft contacts. But, Candice and I learned to work together; she cooperated well!
Then, there were the introductions of Candice to friends and loved ones. I had received word from the hospital that the blood tests had confirmed Down's Syndrome, and many people didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know a soul who had a baby with any difficulties, and I felt very isolated and unsure. How I needed my Savior! My comfort and strength came from Him.
We were moving again, this time with the care of a new baby whose future was uncertain and who might have further problems down the road.
The nineteen months we had dear Candice were tumultuous. She endured many hospitalizations due to her breathing problems. She needed a trach which had to be suctioned, sterilized, and carefully monitored. At night, she also needed a nebulizer to keep airways moist. Candice’s days were filled with therapist visits and daily times of exercise. How many times I was on my knees hunting for her missing soft lenses! But the fun and laughter Candice brought were beyond compare. Every accomplishment she made was joyous and every sweet smile so dear!
When Candice was in distress in the last moments of her life, I felt a moment of despair. So I prayed that Candice would not have to suffer anymore and that if God needed to take her, He would help me to give her to Him. It had been a long journey for her, and in yielding her back, I felt peace. She had died during those moments.
Part of the joy and learning in my new days of motherhood had been to write about our experiences together. Candice was my firstborn child; everything was so fun and new. I wanted to write as much as I could about everything. It was from those pages that her sto