Michaela Pittman sits high in the cab of her 18-wheeler, the flat terrain in her window stretching far into the distance. In these long hours of monotonous landscape, her thoughts easily drift to the hardships she’s endured. Abused and abandoned in her youth, Pittman discovered a relationship with Christ through her adoptive mom. God became her companion and strength, preparing her for the heartbreak she would live through, including a destructive marriage, divorce, and eventually the loss of loved ones.
When her grandchild Jeremih was born, he was diagnosed with gastroschisis, a condition where the intestines are located outside of the body. Children with this birth defect sometimes deal with countless complications and tenuous life expectancies. Facing the baby’s many surgeries with little encouragement from doctors was daunting for both Pittman and her daughter Desi. When Jeremih was just 10 months old, Desi died by suicide. Pittman did all she knew to do: She adopted her grandson and devoted her life to caring for him. But after more than 150 surgeries and procedures, Jeremih died in Pittman’s arms three years later.
“I was very, very angry,” Pittman says. “I was stripped of everything. I told God, I know they belonged to You first, but haven’t I been through enough?” Yet day after day Pittman put her faith in God’s strength for the hours ahead. Some mornings, as she stood outside watching the sun creep over the horizon, she sensed God whispering, My daughter, it’s a new day. You can make it.
Then she’d step inside and listen to the In Touch app, making notes on the lessons from Dr. Stanley. “Until you are in those most trying times of your life, you really don’t know where your faith stands,” she said. “You need to have Scripture hidden in your heart.”
In an attempt to rebuild her life after loss, Pittman began a career in trucking. She used the lengthy travels to process and grieve the past while praising God for the journey He had her on. And she is currently working to start a relief home for pediatric transplant patients unable to afford lodging near the hospital—the kind of housing she herself relied on while caring for Jeremih.
In the meantime Pittman assembles gift baskets for parents of children in the pediatric hospital where Jeremih was treated. As she packs the small items she knows are most needed, she recalls her own feelings of isolation from those days—and how God carried her through.
Now, every August, Pittman commemorates the date of Jeremih’s passing. She spends time with family, celebrating her grandson’s life with stories about him and ending with a meal and balloon release. As Pittman watches the colors floating toward the horizon, her nonstop memories of Jeremih and Desi strengthen her motivation for the good work ahead.