Raising Wilder, Part Two: Suffering and Hope
This is the second of a four-part series. Raising Wilder is a Sapulpa-based television show built on the lives and experiences of Jason Wilder and Paula George, and their children as they work to restore family values through the adventures of living like his ancestors from Little House on the Prairie. “Raising Wilder” will begin airing on The CW, October 8th. Read part one here.
She lay on the floor, sobbing and clutching her stomach. It was December of 2014 and Paula George was in the violent throes of a miscarriage.
Only a year earlier, she and Jason Wilder had welcomed a baby girl named Joanna into the world. She was as perfect as a baby ought to be, and Paula had officially done her part in contributing to the infamous Wilder family that Laura Ingalls Wilder had written about in The Little House on the Prairie stories.
If she was elated to have this dream realized with little Joanna, she was absolutely ecstatic when just a few months later, they discovered she was pregnant again. Unfortunately, this story was to have a different ending.
The miscarriage lasted three days.
Apple Valley, California barely had the facilities for what passed as a proper hospital. When Paula arrived, there were no beds available. Unable to stand, she laid in corridor of the tiny building and cried for what was coming.
Finally getting up to go to the bathroom, Paula went through the ER to the main hospital to avoid the crowds that had previously been pointing and gawking at her. She sat down and realized what had happened. She told Jason the baby had come out and he quickly stepped in to scoop the boy up. As he did so, his hand activated the automatic flush sensor and Paula screamed as she caught the only glimpse of their baby she’d ever have before he was seized by the rushing water.
Their baby boy was gone.
“Ease my suffering”
Paula was never able to return to her own home, where there was a new space waiting for a baby that would never come. Instead, she moved in with her parents for awhile and as she put it, “stayed in my mom’s bed and cried for days.”
It was eight days later. Christmas Day.
At a time where families were supposed to be together, hers had been shattered. She thought about the memories she’d never get to have with her boy.
As more family arrived and began to open gifts, she could take it no longer and fled the house. She didn’t tell anyone where she was going. She didn’t know.
“I drove and prayed and cried and screamed and begged God for mercy,” she said. “I was hurting so terribly, it was like it was from the inside out, if that makes any sense.
Knowing one minute that your baby has a heartbeat in your womb and the next he is gone and never had a chance to take a first breath…you feel so much grief it’s like at any second, the grief is going to steal the last breath from your body. And the pain is so intense, you wouldn’t mind it. You’d think it a welcome relief.”
“But in that moment, when I cried out to God,” she continued, “He told me that to ease my own suffering, I must ease the suffering of others.”
It was as though a light turned on for her. She went back to the house, knowing then what she’d do. In years past, her family had taken gifts and food to the local homeless shelter in the weeks leading up to Christmas. This year, with baby Joanna and another one on the way, she’d felt too tired to make it happen.
But now, she’d make it happen, one way or another. Today, Christmas Day, she’d help to ease the suffering of others.
She arrived back at her parents house—much to relief of the rest of her family—and explained her plan. Immediately, everyone began gathering things to take to the shelter. Then they left her parent’s house and went home and gathered all the toys in the garage that they’d been saving.
Later, they arrived at the shelter with three car-loads of gifts and food to hand out to the residents of the homeless shelter. They placed them in a pile and on a table and began to hand them out to the grateful crowd that had lined up.
“You’ve given me hope”
In the back of the line, there was a woman who noticed a particular gift on the table—a tabletop fountain—with an ornate pattern that allowed the water to cascade from the top to the bottom. It was so pleasant and comforting. Something she certainly needed right now.
Quietly, she prayed, “Lord, if you’d grant me to have that tabletop fountain, then I’ll know you’ve given me hope for Christmas.”
But the line was long and the gifts were disappearing quickly. She knew the chance was slim, and she resolved not to ask for the fountain, but to gratefully accept whatever was handed to her.
Eventually, it came to her turn, and the fountain was still there. Jason reached over to the right and began to grab a gift out of the pile, and then stopped. Without a word, he reached over and grabbed the tabletop fountain and handed it to her with a smile.
She began to cry. “Do you know what this is?” she asked.
Jason and Paula stared at her, sympathetic but confused. “What?” They asked.
She began to tell them how she’d had a lapse in insurance coverage earlier that year, and that she’d lost everything when her home burned to the ground that October. She’d been living in the homeless shelter since and had no hope of a happy Christmas.
But through this gift, she believed that God was telling her, I see you. She saw this answer to prayer as hope. “You’ve given me hope,” she said. “You’ve given me hope,” saying the word as though it were a fragile thing that could easily be broken.
Jason and Paula couldn’t hold back the tears. They stood up and embraced the crying woman and for a moment, they just all stood there with the tears flowing and in her heart Paula knew, as much as she had helped deliver it that day, that a tiny glimmer of hope had been restored to her.
Featured Image: Raymond, Brianna and Dakota (back) with Jason and Paula (front) in their home, doing promotions for Raising Wilder, which airs on The CW October 8th at 4pm.