Your death inexplicable
Your life unforgettable
Your things irreplaceable
Your momma so loveable
Your bothers impressionable
Your daddy inconsolable
My thoughts are on you
As my heart beats true
But my hope is made new
My grief weighs so heavy while my mind is a flurry,
The fog sets in thick as the darkness closes in,
Yet a beam of light pierces through and reassurance shines.
I miss you my little girl
I wish you were here.
Today – right now – the Kyleigh shaped whole in my heart feels like a gulf.
No tool to repair,
But I’m not lost to despair,
I think of that gorgeous, curly brown hair,
And I know that you are there!
I love you Kyleigh!
Today is six weeks from Kyleigh’s birth and our return to the hospital for follow-up visits started this morning. It’s a two day ordeal, and while we’re longing for the proverbial “all clear,” part of me isn’t ready to go there yet. Sure – I want to know that everyone is healing physically and that our bodies are doing what they are supposed to. Did you catch that? The fact that I dare to use the plural form. My physical pain may not be as obvious as Leann’s, but it’s there. Likewise, I can see that Oliver is coping better in that his behavior toward us when it’s just the four of us is returning to the little boy that we knew. Of-course Leann is nearly back to her old self, that is to say, the self that she was physically before entering the second trimester of Kyleigh’s life. This makes me think, why don’t we celebrate the fact that babies are generally 9 months old when they are born? Why say, she is 1 day or 3 months when in fact, she’s already reached her first birthday? It may seem like a technicality and I probably haven’t thought about it since I was 15 yrs and 3 months old; none-the-less, saying that my Kyleigh is “forever one day old” doesn’t seem to properly capture the duration of her time with us. Even if it is appropriate to say that she was one day old, “forever” certainly isn’t the right term. Those of us that believe the Bible to mean what it says in all aspects of its teaching are hard-pressed not to believe in a 1000 year earthly reign of Christ (Rev 20:1-6). This occurs after the first resurrection when all graves, land, sea or air, will be commanded to give up their prize and all of those that have died in Christ are welcomed to join Him. She’s hardly forever one day old as she belongs to that chosen group, as do I, and so it is that I pray for you. Her body was temporarily one day old but that won’t matter soon. I pray that when that blessed time comes when it’s my time to meet Him that she will be in His arms.
One of the gifts that we have been given was a sketch of Jesus holding a baby – our baby. He’s rocking her as I should be; comforting and loving on her because I cannot. On the back, the artist writes of her grief in the loss of her child after only 9 hours from birth, and states that she feels for all of us that have lost a child from miscarriage, stillbirth (stupid term), from infant death and abortion. Hummm – that last one surprised me. It was the first time that I had thought of an elective loss of a child as being a source of future grief. I had always heard and therefor assumed that because this was most often a mother’s “choice,” that there was no grief. Doubt, sure. Guilt, perhaps at some point, of-course. But grief? I was reminded yet again – Who are you oh man (Job 38:4 ~ my paraphrase)? Such are the limitations that are imposed upon me with so many of them being of my own making. I’m judgmental, short tempered, brash and often times entirely too critical. But I pray that is not what people most often see. Not that I attempt to dawn a façade, but rather I try to wear my faith on my sleeve and let that be what truly defines me. Who am I to think that women or couples that elect abortion have any less grief then I at some point as they learn to cope with their decisions over time?
This brings us to the purpose of this entry. I promised on 5/10 to expound on the trip towards spiritual perfection. It sounds like such a lofty goal – something that one could only speak about if they were so engrossed by arrogance as to make them unapproachable by the rest of us mortals. And if not, we think this trip is meant for someone else – those super Christians – who seem to have an extra measure of faith that sustains them in the good times and the bad. Perhaps this was meant only for the Disciples or Apostles, the Church fathers or even those godly men and women that dedicate their lives to paid Christian ministry. Certainly this is not for us, not for you and me. Or is it?
As with any trip, there must be a starting point. We cannot get from A to B if we cannot discern where A actually is. I’ve said before I’m not a guy that needs all the answers. Every person is different. Everyone has a unique fingerprint stamped by a Holy and Loving God. Your walk is different from mine, and my purpose here is to share my journey so that perhaps you can better understand your own. For me, my “A” is God’s Will. To understand my quest for spiritual perfection, you must understand that it all starts with Him.
So here is the pertinent question – did God will for Kyleigh to die? To be clear, the question for me is not why did He will for her to die, but did He will for her to die? God’s will, or this seemingly enigmatic box that we attempt to shove all things into – particularly when life doesn’t fit neatly into our plan. To get there however, there must be a source of information that we can use as a guide and for me, that source is the Bible. A collection of 66 books bound and sold as a single book that was literally God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16). In favor of my Wesleyan heritage, “if there is but one error, there may as well be a thousand.” The Bible teaches so many different things, but most importantly it is clear to me that this is hardly a book filled with commands – thou shalt and thou shalt not’s – it’s not a book about behavior. It’s a book about how much He loves you and me, how we often respond to His love, and what we can expect to generally occur when we choose to either walk in the Light or stay in the darkness. As you’ve noticed from my writing, I’m captivated by what it has to say. Its words are impressed upon my heart and I rejoice in them in times of blessing and cling to them in times of grief. I still have so much to learn and it’s as if I’m routinely pulled to its pages.
Hopefully that gives you the context by which you can understand how I can delight in telling Kyleigh’s story. So did God will for Kyleigh to die? The short answer – yes; but this time a short answer is insufficient. Some things deserve explanation, and this is certainly one of them. I split God’s will into two types. His original will and His permitted will. Psalm 139 tells me that all of Kyleigh’s days – all 9 months of them – were planned from the foundation of the world while Matthew 10:30 teaches that the hairs on her head were numbered, intricately placed there by the only One that could see her perfect form in the womb. This is true of-course for you and me as well.
We see both types of God’s will in the Bible but we only get a glimpse of God’s original will. The Book is largely about reconciliation, which is not a word that was necessary when God first spoke the universe into existence and His Spirit hovered over the newly formed waters (Gen 1). His original plan never included tears of sadness, feelings of brokenness or shame. It’s a marvelous state, which is foreign by our thinking today. Adam and Eve were created as adults in His likeness, and were naked and not ashamed. Imagine that, to exist in such a state that we could be unaware of our own nakedness. I’m hardly advocating living in such a manner, that’s absurd, but it describes a state of being – an unawareness of strife – that people today spend a lifetime seeking. Amazingly, the Bible concludes with this same experience. The last two chapters of Revelation, as with the first two chapters in Genesis, exist as bookends to a divinely orchestrated program which demonstrates God’s perfect plan for humanity. It’s this period in between, from Genesis 3 to Revelation 20 that we find ourselves today and it’s this same period where God’s original or designed will is not in affect – hence a period of His permitted will when bad stuff, stuff not part of the designed plan, happens.
The first parents were no strangers to grieving for one of their children. They had the same grief then that I feel today when Cain killed Abel. Death is a byproduct, a consequence of the choices made by our first parents. But we mustn’t judge them. We’re just as guilty today. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) That includes those super Christians from earlier. I’m in that bucket and so are you. And so many times we think of our sinfulness as having no adverse effect on anyone. This includes ourselves, or anyone that surrounds us. At some point however, somewhere along the line, all of our sin matters. But not only that, it matters profoundly; its impact is truly cosmic. While it’s true that we only ultimately sin against God (refer to David’s response when confronted by Nathan – 2 Sam 12:13), we cause animosity and strife between ourselves and our fellow man. All the events of life, those of yours and of mine, are interconnected into a single, remarkably beautiful tapestry that transcends one life and influences others. “All things work together for good…” (Rom 8:28) doesn’t just mean that the events in my life are ultimately for my own benefit, but that God uses them for the benefit of all of those that love Him from the moment they happen in time to the future time when clocks are no longer meaningful.
Let’s consider Job. Many readers today look at his life as recorded for us and marvel at his fortitude or even the resilience that he demonstrated in the time of his calamity. The part that I think is most relevant here is the first part, when God and Satan are having this cosmic introduction to some strange Shakespearian version of Job’s life. We’re told in Scripture that Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”, (1 Peter 5:8) but it’s not Satan that initiates the struggle that Job encounters. Read it closely, “Have you considered My servant Job?” (Job 1:8) asks God. He is the first to direct Satan’s attention to Job all the while intending to use his experiences as an example, an illustration for everyone that has read his story from the moment it occurred to today. No doubt that it continues to offer hope. It’s been truly humbling for me to return to over these past six weeks. But the difficulty doesn’t stop there. It’s further compounded twice in 1:12 and 2:6 where God gives the command to Satan to go and do his best yet sets the parameters by which Satan is allowed to operate. Even though Satan is as real as I am sitting here writing these words, he’s incapable of doing anything that is outside of the permitted will of God.
This brings us to Kyleigh and the events leading up to her birth and death 6 weeks ago today. Did God will for Kyleigh to die moments before she was born? Absolutely. Does this alleviate any of the pain I feel for her or make her any less important and influential on my life? Definitely not. I’m re-reading A Grief Observed, and Lewis makes a great point. When an amputee looses his leg, does he ever “get over it”? He writes, “There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed.” I lost a pound of flesh – or more exactly, we lost 8.8 lbs. of flesh and there will never be a time when we are “over it”. But just because she was only with me for 9 months and I only had 4 hours with her outside the womb, it doesn’t mean that her life was without purpose – or any less purposeful than mine in God’s master plan. I don’t know why God’s permitted will allowed such a brief time for her to be with us; but her impact has been so meaningful that I have no doubt I’ll be thinking about her until that clock ticks for the last time.
As the boys and I were preparing to eat lunch today, Garrison took a tumble. I had made a stop in the bathroom before getting lunch ready and the next thing I knew, a loud thump, followed by screaming, came from my bedroom. The cries quickly made their way to the bathroom door. When I opened the door, all I saw was blood … bloody arms, hands, legs, face, wall, hardwood floor and carpet. I knew that the source was Garrison’s face and since we all know that your face bleeds more than other parts of your body, I tried to stay somewhat calm. I called for Oliver to bring me the phone so I could call someone, anyone, to come help me. Rodger and my mom were quickly summoned and on their way.
I am still not supposed to drive or lift anything over 20 pounds, but at this moment, I didn’t care. I swooped Garrison up and took him into my bathroom. Oliver helped to get wet washcloths and clean clothes for Garrison. After a quick assessment, I was able to determine that he cut open his cheek, right below his eye. I put him in the bathtub to clean him up and wait for someone to arrive. Rodger and my mom arrived just minutes apart and we all agreed that Garrison would need stitches. Since his pediatrician does not do sutures in the office, we took him to the ER at a local children’s hospital.
After about two hours in the emergency room, we were on our way home with 3 stitches, lots of sidewalk chalk, some bubbles and an orange popsicle.
I was exhausted. It was three-thirty in the afternoon and I had not had lunch yet. I was tired, hungry and on emotional overload. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay in the room while the stitches were put in. I told Rodger I would probably step out. I knew Garrison would be upset and that, combined with my dislike of blood and all things medical, was sounding like too much. When the doctor came in to begin the procedure, it hit me. This was my boy. He needed me. I wasn’t going to turn my back just because I don’t like blood or needles or hospitals. I had enough of all that six weeks ago, the least I could do for my son is stay in the room while they helped him. So I did. I stood at the top of his head and watched as the doctor put three stitches in his skin. I teared up a few times, but quickly composed myself, as I didn’t want my tears to upset Garrison even more.
Fast forward a few hours. Garrison and I were sitting outside on our porch swing watching Rodger mow the yard. Garrison had just woken up from his nap and was curled up in my lap. We sat like that for probably twenty minutes or more. It was the longest he has sat in my lap for weeks. To be honest, he hasn’t wanted much to do with me since I got home from the hospital. He knows I can’t pick him up and he is in a “Daddy’s boy” stage anyway. As we sat together, we hardly talked. He just needed to be held and I just needed to hold him. I savored every minute, no every second, of our time together.
My boys need me. They need me to be the best mom I can be to them. Losing Kyleigh has changed all of us. It has changed who I am as a Mom, for the better. For that, I thank Kyleigh and praise God for bringing her into our lives. She has left a void in our lives, a hole in our hearts. But I will not leave a void in my sons’ lives. I will raise them with all of my heart. I will rise every day and do everything I can to show them that I am there for them.
Written on Monday, May 14, 2012 …
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, but you already knew that. It was a day full of mixed emotions. Happy one minute and sad the next. Your Daddy took me to the cemetery so I could visit you. I had been looking forward to going all week, not so much for me, but for you. I wanted you to know that I was there for you on Mother’s Day. You see, Mommy’s are always supposed to be there for their children. Going to the cemetery was the only way I knew how to be there for you yesterday. I will be there for you every Mother’s Day until I am next to you in heaven.
Oliver asked to go see you tonight, so we did. It makes my heart smile when he wants to go to the cemetery. How sad is that? Garrison doesn’t understand yet that you are in heaven, so when we go to the cemetery he thinks he actually gets to see you. They both like to walk around and are doing a very good job of being respectful when we do. Our rules are no running, quiet voices and no stepping on headstones. At one point tonight, Garrison was saying to himself “No stepping on headstones” over and over again. He understands and it breaks my heart. What two year old knows how to act in a cemetery? Unfortunately, your brother does. Both of them do.
I am glad that they want to come see you. It makes me happy in a strange kind of way. One reason is that I know we are teaching them that it’s okay to go to a cemetery and visit their loved ones. They are going to grow up with an understanding of death that most children do not have. It also warms my heart because I know that if they want to visit you now, they will want to visit you five, ten, thirty years from now. They will come visit you after I am with you and then they will get to visit us both. I hate that these visits will become routine for them, but at the same time, it is teaching them to honor and remember their loved ones who have gone on before them. That is a lesson that most children do not receive anymore and if they do, it’s once a year on Memorial Day, if that.
As we walk around the cemetery, I see names I recognize. Not too many people that I knew personally, but people your Grammy and Pa knew, friends of friends or familiar names from my childhood. One thing that is so sad to me is how many other children are buried throughout the cemetery, from babies to teenagers. That’s not the way it is supposed to be. I wonder what their stories are. I grieve for their families. I want to buy flowers for each one of them, especially the ones who don’t already have some.
I told Oliver last week that we would bring bubbles the next time we visited you. We forgot tonight. Oliver was upset about it. On the way home, Daddy suggested we buy bubbles to keep in both of our cars so we will always have them for when we visit you. Oliver liked that idea. So do I. We will bring bubbles for you next time, I promise.
I love you Kyleigh, my sweet baby girl.
Written on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 …
We now have plenty of bubbles. Your brother fell off a bed today and split open his cheek. He had to get 3 stitches. On our way out, the nurse gave us lots and lots of bubbles and sidewalk chalk. I’ll make sure some of those bubbles make it into the car for you. Love you!
Several years ago I was privileged to travel to India for work. It took almost 24 hours to fly there, which is a long flight that was made more bearable as I was treated to business class due to company policy. It’s nice to be able to see a country like that on someone else’s dime. I spent the week traveling to and from the job site and the hotel with a close friend of mind who is a native of the country. India is a remarkable place. It must be one of the most populous countries per capita, although I won’t bother to check the facts on that. The colors, scents, faces, animals and food…oh the food…I pray everyone has the opportunity to travel to such a place, particularly those of us in Western culture. We silo ourselves into thinking that what we see around us is as the world must be even though we know better simply by watching the evening news. Often times we have to be intentional about thinking beyond ourselves and experiencing something as life altering as an international trip where our eyes can be opened to the wonder of creation. Seeing nature is one thing, but people, seeing the people, every child knit together in the womb and made in the image of God, that’s a whole other experience.
We had been there a few days and my friends laptop broke. Thankfully there was a company technology center in another part of the city, so we spent one late afternoon and evening working from another site while his laptop was repaired. When it was time to leave, I got to experience something for the first time that I only thought I knew about here in the States. Traffic. The best word I can think of here is stagnant. Nobody moved, ever. We had a driver dedicated to us for the week, and we all just sat in the car hoping for the guy in front of us to move. It seemed like he never would, but when he did, we moved inches. It was hardly worth celebrating.
After we sat there for a few minutes, there came a crowd of people walking the isles in the streets created by the lines of cars each waiting their turn to move. These were folks that I hadn’t yet seen as if they had been hidden from view. People that stay on the sidelines or out of the way as to not interfere with life. They stopped at every car, asked for something, anything, and then moved on to the next car after being rejected. I saw her coming; a young woman who I thought must be the mother of someone. I saw her approach the car as she came down the aisle; she wore dirty clothes and she never smiled.
I sat in the back of the car behind the driver. She found our car, stared me in the eyes and tapped on the window while motioning for food. I knew that I had to help. She felt pain and I could alleviate some of that pain. I was cautioned by my friend as to the amount, but I opened my wallet and gave her some of what I had, a 100 dollar bill. That converts to about $2, so in our terms it was insignificant, but to her, it was extravagant. And that turned out to seemingly be the mistake.
She rushed away with the money but no sooner had she gone then a swarm of people, mostly children, returned in her place. There was no need for them to walk through the rows of cars; they knew right where to go. The closest I had ever seen to anything like this was throwing food into a school of trout at the hatchery at Roaring River and watching them swarm. It was like that, but it was people. Each of whom is infinity more valuable than any fish. We were surrounded, and that’s when it started.
Tap, tap, tap, tap. A boy was standing outside my window holding his sister in his arms with one hand and tapping on the window with the other. I looked at him and saw his deep brown eyes, and I looked at her with longing to help but I felt powerless, empty as if there was nothing else that I could do. He tapped forever as the cars never moved. The tapping turned to banging which made the driver madder than a hornet. He got out and ran them off only to have them return once he got back in the car. The tapping was incessant, like nails in my heart and it never stopped until the traffic somehow cleared and we were able to drive away. I didn’t dare open the window. I tried to express my sympathy through it but to no avail. I tell myself today that there was nothing else I could have done. Over the years I think I had almost convinced myself that I had given all the money that I had to the woman, but I don’t think that is true either. I’m sure that I had at least another 500 ($10) on me, but giving that to them would perhaps have caused more of a rush. Or would it, and what if it did? For fear of my personal safety, I demonstrated the type of person that I least wanted to be, and it would haunt me still if I didn’t know that I was forgiven.
Praise be to God that there is another way. At home or abroad, there’s a better way, perhaps the only way, to truly help someone at the point of their affliction. It shouldn’t matter why a person is hurting, what only matters is that they are hurting and it’s our responsibility, no privilege, to step into their world and hurt along with them. To refuse to allow them to shoulder their grief on their own; ours is a shared ministry that forces the darkness to flee at the mention of the Light.
Today we had a visitor that brought us dinner. She was a kind soul, someone that has known Oliver for the past year yet someone that we had not met. She entered our home and immediately noticed the pictures of Kyleigh that we have on the mantel. She didn’t avoid talking about her, in-fact, she told us how beautiful she is and how deeply she felt for our family when she heard the news. Her words were genuine, her compassion sincere, and I believe that our grief is somehow lessened by folks like her that care enough to get beyond their own insecurities and grieve with our family. It does no good to come to our house to check-in with us yet not talk about her. Sure, we’ll most likely cry. We’ll remember again that she’s home and that we have a Kyleigh shaped hole in our heart that pours out at the mention of her name. But no matter how sharp that sting might be, we would rather have that then an hour or two sitting around chatting about the weather, or the news, or whatever else as if all of this is some kind of terrible dream from which we expect to awaken. I’m watching the grass grow on her grave; she’ll not wake and we’re comforted when people recognize her, acknowledge our grief and share in our healing.
This is what God does for all of His children that are in pain. If we profess this faith, then it’s our opportunity to use His actions as a model for which we can emulate. We’ll not always be successful, that’s a guarantee, but we must remember that we’re not called to be successful; we’re called to be faithful. For the love of God, get out and help. If not us, then find someone that is hurting and enter into their world far enough to share a measure of their burden. I wish I would have done that for those children in India. The next time I go, you can bet I won’t be sitting here four years later wondering what would have happened if I would have cared enough to get out of that car and reach out to them knowing that little girl is someone else’s sweet Kyleigh.
Enough of this superficial behavior! Let us love our neighbor and help each other. It truly doesn’t matter who they are or what they’ve done, or what their pain is. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:28) At the end of the day, either you believe this stuff or you don’t. And if you believe, then you’re not at liberty to apply certain passages of the Scripture and not others simply because of the way they make you feel. Yes, you might feel uncomfortable. Yes, you’ll be misunderstood as people will question your motives. And yes, you might just make a fool of yourself. Others will scoff, and at some point, you’ll probably feel as if the world is after you. “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)
All honor and glory and power to Him that is worthy, now and forever. Amen.
We were given another precious gift yesterday to further help us remember the events surrounding the celebration of life that we had for Kyleigh. Our family photographer, who’s both so kind and very talented, was able to set aside her own grief to help us capture the emotions of those days. She did an exceptional job and now we have several images that will stay with us until we’re reunited. Pray the Lord decides to come back soon. He said so you know, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” (Rev 22:20) The writer of the Revelation John responds, “Amen [let it be so]. Come, Lord Jesus.”
I always felt before that there was work that needed to be done before He would return. As if He held off His return until I, Rodger, or the Church universal was finished with whatever tasks He had prepared beforehand for us to walk in (Eph 2:10). I don’t think that’s what the writers of the New Testament had in mind. Many of them were persecuted, imprisoned, and most were executed. Yet when they spoke of Christ’s return, there’s something imminent about it – as if they expected it to happen at any moment. I think now I know why they felt that way.
It’s different now of-course. I long to be set free from the pains of this world not only to be reunited with my Jesus and my daughter, but to live eternally with those that have gone on before. To meet with my grandfather again, a wonderful man who is more of an example to me now that I think he was then. To see the forefathers of our country or of the faith…to know and to be known. To sit in the Light of the Son and to only be able to vaguely remember the darkness. I suspect that the pain we feel today will be such a distant memory then. I like Paul here, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Rom 8:22-23) Creation, that which was pronounced to be “very good” now groans for redemption. It’s a stark contrast. I ache for the freedom of redemption yet that’s only half of what I feel. It’s like two seemingly incompatible liquids standing in the same clear glass container. Oil and water, a black-and-tan if you will. They co-exist to form the whole, but they don’t mix. And if the aches and groans are a minority part of the complex whole, what’s the other part? That, I think, is our most unusual response.
Joy. A simple little emotion that can be so elusive particularly when we’re consumed by darkness. I’ve studied the book of James several times in groups and individually, and while there are many verses that can be hard to apply, the second verse is one of them. “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” Sure – whatever James. I’m to consider it a joy when I’m neck deep in a trial whose purpose is to test my faith as to produce endurance. Now to be clear, God didn’t originally design a world in which any of us should perish (in fact He say’s so in 2 Peter 3:9) as death wasn’t part of the original plan. Death is a consequence of the actions taken by our ancestors, actions that I would have undoubtedly taken had I been there and not Adam. But the tests that we encounter are permitted under His sovereign hand and they do serve a purpose. That purpose is to move us along the continuum towards spiritual perfection. That term needs some developing, but that’s for another post. Simply put, God is love (1 John 4:8), and the further that we move along that line the more that we can say that we too, are love. Not that we love, or that we have loved, but that we exude love, we express love, we are love. As we progress on this journey however, we’re guaranteed to suffer, which is one reason that I shutter when I hear someone say that they cannot reflect upon a time in their lives when they have not experienced Holy wrath. I pray they are prepared when that day comes. David was prepared and he too, had a most unusual response.
King David was a man, a great man. A man of prominence, position, wealth, stature and he loved God. But being that he was just a man, he fell – and he fell hard. His falling is recorded for us in 2 Samuel 11 (easy to remember because it’s the bankruptcy chapter – same of his son Solomon in 1 Kings 11). Picking up the story in 2 Samuel 12:13 and following, God strikes his child with sickness who only came about because of the sin that David committed against God. God called that child home for reasons that are known to us, but not so for all the children that He has called home through the ages; early by our estimation yet perfect in His timing. When he heard that his son had died, David’s response was highly unusual. He got up, cleaned himself off, worshiped God, and ate some food. The contrast he showed between when he mourned for his child before death and the behaviors that he demonstrated after his death astonished his contemporaries. He is confident that he will see his child again, and spend eternity with him, but he also knows that his child, every child, belongs to the One that commands every heart to start beating in the womb. I often wonder how he was able to do that in the days following his son’s death. While we’re not given the amount of time that elapsed, I suspect days, not months or years. I’m convinced that Scripture gives us that answer as well.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matt 5:4) Folks that allow themselves to mourn, to open their hearts and express the pain that they feel are comforted by God. Blessed – or to be made happy – it’s an interesting idea in the midst of tragedy. Perhaps James was onto something. Friends recently pointed us back to Psalm 126:5. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.” I’m hardly prepared to throw a party and invite all our friends to our house to celebrate the abundant life that God promises in John 10:10, but I know that my tears provide the pathway through which true joy will once again return to our lips. I can see it today. I hear it in the questions from a 4 year old and the giggles from our 2 year old. I feel it when I hear how Kyleigh’s life and story is prompting people to seek reconciliation…be it with family members, friendships or between the most important of all relationships, our individual response to God’s grace. I see it every night when I settle in with the same woman who I was united with almost 12 years ago. I’m starting to see my own unusual response and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The darkness is a temptress, and I can see how some people would allow themselves to be consumed by it. Allowing my daughter to move from this life to the next was hardly my choice, but how I permit this trial to change me clearly is. Today I choose grace. I pray tomorrow I do the same. I love you Kyleigh. Thank you for helping me see this.