Yalaina Symone Griffin*

May 11, 2007 – June 26, 2007


My name is Yalaina Symone Griffin and I lived to be 46 whole days old! My birthday is May 11, 2007 and I went home to be with God on June 26, 2007.

Way before my first birthday, the doctors told my mommy and daddy that I had a bunch of icky fluid in my tummy. They called it hydrops. That mean old hydrops gave a really hard time. It made my kidneys, liver, spleen, and lungs all broken and stuff. On my good days when my kidneys were working a little bit, my family & friends did the “Pee-Pee Dance” They were all really pulling for me. I was and still am very loved.

And when that stinky-face hydrops tried to get the best of me, I put up my dukes and fought it right back with all of my might. In the end, the yucky hydrops won. But since I put up such a good fight for so long, maybe the doctors were able to learn something from me so that next time hydrops won’t win.

I almost forgot to tell you about my family! They’ve been so great! My mommy’s name is Ro and my daddy’s name is Eric (I was his first munchkin). I have a big sister named Emminence and a big brother named Calvin. They were really excited to have a little sister. I also have two grandmas, two grandpas, five uncles, three aunts and about 10 cousins. On top of all of those family members, I have my OTHER family who all love me just as much; everyone at The Dwelling Place Faith Community, Traveler’s Rest Missionary Baptist Church, & all the people at Methodist Hospital, who took good care of me & tried so hard to fix me.

Thank all of you who prayed for me, thought about me, and hoped for the best for me. I felt the love – in fact, that’s what pulled me through. Now that I’m here in Heaven, I’ll put in a good word for you, keep my eye on you in the meantime, and I’ll see you when you get here!

Hey guys, please remember this!

Romans 5:3-5

“….We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

A Blessing from Heaven

*As told to her mother, Ro.

By Shane Fuller

We gather here still trying to make sense of what happened last Tuesday, still trying to process the unprocessable. We come together in this place, as a Christian community, partly because we know of no better place to bring our questions and our grief and partly because we don’t know where else to turn. As the apostle Peter once said to Jesus, at a moment of confusion and doubt, “Lord, to whom else can we go?”

Yalaina’s shortened days preach to us a silent sermon if we will allow. Her time on earth reminds us that life is precious. It is a gift from God, a miracle wrapped in love. Each moment is like eternity – no past, no future, just the sacred now. None of us, in this hour, know the complete course of our lives, the exact number of days that we have been allotted, nor our final exhale. And so today, our lives right here right now, are gifts and they are unspeakably good. The sum total of all the moments that we experience is what we become, and this is our gift to God. We are asked embrace the time we have been given by living our seconds to the full!

Yalaina’s journey is a tiny window, or microcosm, of life in a fallen cosmos. Her struggle this last 6 weeks is a reminder that all is not well on this planet. The world has fallen, and our existence is not how it should be. We fight to enter this world, and that is the hinge on which all of our days turn. Our stories are filled with pain and turmoil, unexpected twists and turns, and abrupt changes in plot. Every waking moment is tainted with fear as the stench of death mixes with the sweet aroma of living. Even when the Ancient of Days assumed the human condition, His hours were accustomed with sorrow and grief. He who had experienced eternal bliss, immersed himself into the realm of man, and His life was etched in pain. We know nothing can be changed until it is first embraced, and so we are instructed by this tiny baby’s life to accept reality in all of its brokenness.

This infant’s every breath revealed the depths of what it means to be a person. None of us are single, solitary units that operate alone. Our very existence originates in the other. A person can only be a person through others. The whole of our beings are forged by every encounter with people, and every person has deep significance to the meaning of this path we trod. Yalaina revealed how infinitely valuable each touch of our deeply connected humanity can be. From doctors and nurses to friends and family, the church, and even those who were only connected by whispers to God as they heard of her story – all of the different layers of the race of man weave together to form her and us. We remember this hour that our lives are not a series of random encounters but that you are in me and I am in you, and it is only in our union that we are made complete.

Yalaina is instructing us now, even in this solemn, sacred silence of her passing. Our own deaths flow to the front of the waves of thoughts that fill the ocean of our mind, and yet this is not the end. This present garb that our world dons is not what God had laid out for us to wear. Our momentary scars, pain, and grief speak words of transcendence that we are not yet finished. The grave becomes merely a passage to a whole new chapter. It takes a deep courage to stand like flint amidst the cold, dark winds pressuring our insides to snap with despondency, to allow assurance to flood our anguish with rumors from on high that nothing irredeemable can happen to us. Our cuts and wounds point to something far deeper. We stand face to face with doubt in all its glory and choose to believe that this happening, and all our happenings, are not meaningless. These random sharp pieces of glass and life are forming for us a mosaic of beauty that is not yet unveiled. Even, too, this hour will be consumed into the whole, and in the fullness of all that is, we shall see in bold color all that is grey.

Oh Lord, teach us to count all of our moments, that we may dance into the art of living and living well. Thank you for this little life of insurmountable beauty and for gracing us with the gift of Yalaina’s presence. Let us be inspired by this life well lived to behold the tangible splendor of the endowment of our existence. Give us patience and endurance as we engage with the thorns and thistles of this world. Allow the virus, which has permeated all
that you declared “Good,” to be repelled by the seeds of light we plant in faith. Grant that our blinders might fall and that we may see every created being as your handiwork, and that every person might be family we have not yet met. Let us participate in the redemption of all that is. Thank you for Yalaina’s parable that lives and breathes among us. May it fan the flame of holiness and connect to all that is good, righteous, and true.

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