Pastor Holm appeared at the door while I sat curled in the brown leather chair in the living room, pressing Sophia’s spit-up covered purple dress against my face. I had been only slightly aware that a visitor had arrived and I had no intention of getting up to greet whoever it was.

I saw Pastor Holm crane his neck to look down the hallway, and after spotting me in the chair, he walked confidently towards me, like he was bringing some good news that couldn’t wait. He bent down to reach me, embraced me with all his strength, lifting me partially off the chair. I was weak and unresponsive; confused by his presence in my parents’ home.

I had seen this pastor at the front of our church but never up close. I wasn’t a regular attendee of service so I didn’t know him well. And I never imagined his arms around me…comforting me. No, that was for old people. Sick people. Grieving people. I didn’t yet understand that I was now the latter.

Pastor Holm asked my mom if there was a quiet place where we could talk and then somehow I walked, trancelike, downstairs and sat on the green sectional, pressed up against Chris, weakly holding his hand.

There were no formalities. Pastor Holm just asked what had happened. It was like Chris was ready to explode if he didn’t get the story out. Sophia had stopped breathing the night before, he began. He had found her when he went to check on her just one last time. He pulled her body from the crib and tried to do CPR. How he didn’t do it right. How she had vomited and how he could still taste it in his mouth.

By the end of his recollection, he was panting, sobbing, looking desperately back and forth between me and Pastor Holm, trying to find some comfort.

The room went silent. I realized I had been gripping Chris’s hand tighter as he retold what had happened. Because it was the first time I had heard what actually happened the night before.

Not knowing how to comfort Chris, and still trying to sort out in my head what he had just revealed, I looked to Pastor Holm for some answers. I locked eyes with him and saw the tears streaming down his face. He reached out his hand and I grabbed it, like there was some strength there that I could tap into.

And then he lowered his head and spoke. Quietly at first. “This is one of the hardest things I ever have to say to people,” he began. He sat up straighter, preparing to deliver his news. “But I must say it. Chris, Prinna, she was never yours to begin with.”

It was like getting sucker punched in the stomach.

Of course she was ours, I wanted to scream! We created her and I birthed her and we had taken care of her every need for ten months. I slumped back into the couch, disappointed that the news he had come to deliver was just this.

Despite my very visible retreat from the conversation, he went on. He tried to explain how Sophia was never ours to begin with because she belonged to God. By the time he finished, my body was heaving, trying to hold back the tears. How could we have allowed this man into our house to upset us more than we already were? How could he sit there and hold our hands, shed tears for our daughter, and tell us such an awful thing? I felt an intense hatred for this man for telling us this lie. He was wrong. He was just simply wrong.

As the years passed, I frequently would think of the words Pastor Holm had said to us that morning. And it would take almost five years. But eventually, eventually, I would realize how right he was. And I would finally be comforted by his words.