In her seven days of life, my granddaughter reminded us why death is different for those who follow Christ.
By Dennis Rainey
Editor’s note: In June of 2008, as Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s new granddaughter, Molly Ann Mutz, fought for her life, Dennis updated friends and co-workers with several e-mails. Molly was the daughter of the Raineys’ daughter, Rebecca, and her husband, Jake Mutz. The following excerpts from these e-mails speak of the pain and incomprehensible victory of those seven days of Molly’s life.
Thursday, June 19: Dawn in Colorado
The sun is coming out here in Colorado, and the Son will soon be welcoming home Rebecca and Jake’s daughter, Molly. A gift, entrusted to them for seven days, to be ushered home, undoubtedly by a band of the gentlest and mightiest angels dispatched from the throne of God to carry her into the presence of the Savior.
What has been tough is about to get much tougher.
Our days here have been so full of the presence of God. Honoring Him for Molly Ann.
Friday morning she is born … she doesn’t cry because she is suffering from congestive heart failure. Her mom holds her only for seconds before she is whisked away to be placed on life support. We think her problem is a heart murmur. Oh, how I wish that was all she had. She is rushed by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital here in Aurora. We arrive that evening to hear Jake say she is going to need brain surgery.
Saturday is a day of testing, in more ways than one … She has x-rays, ultra-sounds, and MRIs. The radiologist makes a copy for Jake and me from her textbook about the Vein of Galen. I go online and find out that Molly is up against a serious abnormality in the middle of her brain that is very rare and very destructive.
Around 4 p.m. we are seated in a private room with a neurologist, cardiologist, neonatologist, and nurse giving us the news that over 50 percent of Molly’s brain is permanently damaged and that the damage affects both halves of the brain. After 10-15-20 dangerous surgeries, she might be able to have a few functions as a human being. Later I talk to a friend who has been a neurologist for 30 years and he puts it in perspective: “In cases like Molly where there is so much brain damage, I have never seen a good outcome through surgery.” In other words, it would take a miracle for Molly to live.
On Sunday Jake’s parents, Bill and Pam Mutz, arrive along with some of their family. Our other children begin to arrive from around the country. Rebecca and Jake want to introduce their new daughter to each family member. Many come and kneel at Rebecca’s feet and just sob. When a family is being a family it is powerful. Worshipful. God-honoring.
Jake and Rebecca spend a good bit of Sunday and Monday praying, talking, seeking second opinions trying to decide what is God’s will for Molly. What is the loving thing to do? On Monday we surround Molly and have a baby dedication, read Scripture, pray and sing a couple of songs. More than a dozen of us weep our way through the familiar hymn:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
On Monday night, Bill and Pam and Barbara and I witness the unimaginable … we sit in a hospital room as Jake holds Molly … listening for over two hours as Jake and Rebecca process their choices. God is God, but it’s impossible to not feel, This just shouldn’t be. What a choice for a young couple to have to make. They decide to not pursue the several very dangerous and complex brain surgeries and remove life support later in the week.
I don’t know what happened to Tuesday ... But I do know that if love could heal, Molly would be well. Instead, we can all see Molly’s little chest pounding, her heart beating faster and faster, trying to keep up with what she needs to live.
Wednesday is an incredible day ... Videoing, picture taking, making a mold of Molly’s hands, Rebecca and Jake holding Molly, who is still tethered by life support tubes. Rebecca and the moms giving Molly her first and only bath. This is not what this young mother expected.
Ask me to show you my Bible and I’ll show you her footprints all over Psalm 127 and 128 … and her handprint on my life verse, Psalm 112:1-2, which reads, “Praise the Lord! How blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; the generation of the upright will be blessed.”
Molly’s life may have been short in terms of days, but her life has been mighty. Mighty Molly Mutz.
Wednesday closes with this email at midnight from Jake, on the close of the last full day that Molly will likely live:
I just got done holding Molly chest-to-chest for the last 3.5 hours! Heavenly! I could feel her
beating heart on my bare chest! 2569 kisses later I relinquished her to Mom.
She is an angel!!!! Now Rebecca is experiencing this delight! I just looked over at Bec & she nodded, as if to say, “I WILL be sleeping here with my Sweet Pea for the next 12 hours!”
We love you guys!
Jake & Rebecca
Friday, June 20: Sunset in Colorado
On Thursday, Miss Molly made her way to her new home in heaven around 6:15 p.m. Her last day with us began with a pretty average sunrise, but the sunset that closed out her coronation day was spectacular. It was as though the sun was declaring, Magnificent Molly is home!
The Scriptures declare, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” That verse challenged our faith all day long, but it was nonetheless a day ordered by God’s sovereign hand of love and mercy.
Jake and Rebecca spent nearly all morning with Molly. As we arrived, Beth (Molly’s nurse and an angel herself) told us that Molly’s vital signs were slipping. The nurse told us that it was Molly’s way of telling her parents, “It’s time for me to leave you and go home to heaven.” I am weeping as I write these words; none of us wanted Molly to leave.
Around noon, Rebecca and Jake honored all of us as grandparents by giving us the privilege of holding Molly to say goodbye. None of us expected we’d get that treat. We didn’t want to rob them of one moment with their precious daughter.
Barbara got to be first. It was quite a maneuver to make sure all the wires and tubes that were supporting Molly’s life didn’t get tangled, but finally there she was in her arms. Barbara kept saying how much of an honor it was to hold this little princess of the King. She held her close and cooed words of love and admiration over her beautiful face. Smiles and tears mingled.
When it was Bill’s turn, he stroked her face, tenderly whispered his love for her and shared his favorite Scriptures with her. Pam beamed as she gently rocked Molly and sang “Jesus Loves Me” to her. Both Bill and Pam just held her, kissing her face, holding her little hands and weeping as they said goodbye.
As Molly was placed in my arms she felt so warm, just like every other newborn. I tried to sing to her and I doubt that she recognized “Jesus Loves Me” as I choked out the words through tears.
Jake, who was videotaping, asked me, “Papa, why don’t you tell Molly a story … one of your ‘Speck People’ stories?” These are adventure stories of tiny little people and equally tiny little creatures who live in a make-believe, microscopic world, facing any number of challenges that demand courage and faith. Our kids were enthralled with these tiny people stories and now I am telling them to my grandkids.
So Rebecca and Barbara surrounded me as I held little Molly, looked into her face, and began my story: “A Speck grandfather and his Speck granddaughter went fishing for tiny Speck fish …” My story was less than 60 seconds long and I looked up into Rebecca’s face and she had the biggest grin, dimples and all. She was loving the moment.
Rebecca’s laughter has always been contagious, and I too began to really laugh. One other detail of importance is that all of us had been gingerly holding Molly, afraid that the stress of handling her might be more than her little body could handle. Jake and I looked at the heart and oxygen monitor to see if our hearty laughter had stressed her system, but the opposite was happening—they were going up! Her oxygen saturation which had been at 80 shot up to 92, then 94, 97, 98, 99 … we just kept laughing and her oxygen level went to 100 percent, which it hadn’t been in 24 hours.
All four of us cheered with raised arms like at a football game. It was a moment of sheer delight and mystery. A small thing, perhaps? Yes, no doubt. But in the valley of the shadow of death, God gave us laughter.
Christians are the only people who can laugh in the midst of such a crisis without despair—we know where we are headed. Heaven is certain because of what Jesus Christ did for us through His death for our sins. Because He lives, we who believe have the hope of life after death.
If a person places faith in Christ for forgiveness of his sins, surrenders his life to Him, then he can be certain of heaven too. It’s the ultimate reason why death is different for a true follower of Christ. And it’s why we could laugh as our beloved Molly was about to leave us.
Laughter stopped and the tears flowed again as I was told it was time for me to say goodbye. Rebecca was now holding Molly. Barbara and I knelt beside her as I read her my goodbye letter:
I just met you—I feel cheated.
I don’t want to say goodbye.
I know I’ll likely see you in a couple of decades or so—in light of eternity, it won’t be long, really. Still I don’t want to say goodbye.
You will always be my Molly, my granddaughter. I’m really sad that I won’t be getting to spoil you with a doll, or go sneak chocolate, or take you on ice cream dates, and eat chocolate pie and pudding. Laughing all the time at what your mommy and daddy would say if they knew what we were doing. I don’t want to say goodbye.
Your seven days sure brought a lot of joy to your mom and dad’s face—I’ve watched them drink you in with their eyes, kiss you from head to foot, stroke and caress you.
Your parents loved you well—God couldn’t have given you better parents. Courageous parents. They have loved you with a sacrificial love that only a very few little girls like you ever get to experience. Because it hurts their hearts so much, oh, how I really don’t want to say goodbye. And so, Sweet Molly, until that day in heaven when we will celebrate the Greatness of our God together (then we will go sneak chocolate and go on an ice cream date) I must say goodbye.
Goodbye, Molly Ann.
I love you,
Molly Ann Mutz
June 13, 2008—June 19, 2008