One of the most interesting things about walking through grief with small children is seeing things from their perspective. I could write a book from all of the fascinating things that Freddo alone has said. Some things are sweet, some things are funny, and most things bring tears to my eyes. Yesterday we were driving to Trader Joes to return some “blossoming branches” I had recently bought. Yes, I am that girl who returns flowers that I paid $5.99 for. As we were driving to the store Freddo asked, “Mommy, why are we returning those branches?” “Well,” I said, “they never blossomed and they’re kind of dying so we’re taking them back.” And then, from the back of the car I heard Fred’s sweet little voice say, “Speaking of dying…we’re dying!” Said of course, happily. Full-of-faith. And quite matter of fact. And that’s how it goes. One minute we’re just breezing through our day together, and the next moment I’m hit with the deepest realities of life. From the mouths of babes…
Over the last few days my friend Catherine has shared her story on my blog. A story so similar to mine, from a heart so like mine, that at times I am overwhelmed that God would give me such a gift as her friendship. On January 28th, 2005…exactly 8 years to the date of Charlie’s birth…Catherine also experienced the greatest heartbreak of her life at her baby Abigail’s silent birth. It is incredibly kind and providential of God that Catherine was remembering the birthday of her daughter, on the same day we were walking through Charlie’s birth. It is equally amazing to me that baby Abigail was buried on the same day as our sweet Charlie James.
I remember waking up the morning of Charlie’s burial and thinking, “I honestly don’t know if I can move my body through this whole day with such a broken heart.” And then I checked my email. The only way I can describe Catherine’s words to me that morning is that I felt like I was a bleeding and wounded Katniss Everdeen…and I had just received healing medicine from the Capital. Catherine’s email began with, “Today you bury Charlie.” And then she shared from her equally broken mother’s heart words from the Word that would get me through one of the hardest days of my life.
And she’s written me an email every day since. Emails filled with heartbreak, because she knows exactly how broken I really am. And emails filled with truth, because she knows exactly how much I need it. Truth about God’s Sovereign plan in suffering. Truth about God’s always and forever love. And truth about how those two truths come together as the Sovereign God of the Universe continues loving each one of us. He continues loving Abigail and Catherine, me and Charlie, and you and those you love. Loving us as we are all suffering. Loving us as we are all dying. Dying, and yet somehow also moving closer each day to finally being alive.
It’s amazing to see Fred’s faith-filled and willing acceptance of the incredibly difficult truth that “we are all dying.” To watch my kids willing acceptance of the truth that Catherine shared in her guest post that, “God is God and we are not.” My kids just take that in and say, “Ok. You’re God and I’m not?! Got it! I’ll surrender to that.” I, on the other hand, hear those truths and my heart struggles against them. I don’t want everyone I love to be “dying.” And if I was honest, sometimes I don’t want my life to be so totally and completely out of my control…even if that means that it is in God’s. Sometimes I see the deep child-like faith of my kids and I even think, “Maybe they just believe God THAT much, and trust Him THAT much because they don’t really understand what it means that Charlie has died.”
But deep in my heart, I know that isn’t the case. Most three-year-olds have not stood next to the freshly tilled earth and looked into their baby brother’s grave. But Freddo has. Most kids have not seen the tiny casket of the baby brother who used to “kick” them through mommy’s tummy, and who waved at them during an ultrasound. But Freddo has. Sometimes I think Fred might have a more realistic picture of death than many adults do. And maybe also a more realistic picture of eternal life. Most kids have not read the story of Jesus and Lazarus so many times that they have it memorized by now. And when I hear Freddo’s sweet voice running around the house and yelling, “Jesus is the resurrection and the life!”…I know he believes it.
I really believe that Jesus wasn’t kidding or exaggerating when He said that we should have faith like a child. He meant it. He meant that we should hear what He says, and believe His every word. Like Freddo, who truly takes God at His Word with joy and matter-of-factness. As I ponder the deepest question of my life…”Who is God When A Baby Dies?” I am so very thankful that God has given me a picture of true faith in the heart of my sweet Fred.
Kids…you’ve gotta love them.