the forest wept
dampening my dry upturned face
grief for me
five years that day
the forest wept
When one person who has lost a child encounters another who has lost a child, they connect immediately. Finding another who has walked that valley of the shadow of death is both wonderful and terrible; wonderful because here is someone who understands and has been there, terrible because here is another who has lost a precious child and WHY God… This ought not be! Such is the connection I have with Matt and Ginny Mooney. We’ve never met in person, we haven’t even spoken on the phone. But we share a common experience – losing our first child, a common mode of communicating – writing, a common question – what does life look like now? and a common love of Jesus.
The Mooneys’ first child, a boy named Eliot (I mean, seriously – their son is Eliot, our daughter is Elli?!?!?), was born with Trisomy 18, a diagnosis that, as the doctors put it, is “not viable for life.” Eliot wasn’t supposed to survive the birth, but he did, for 99 days. Matt wrote about their experience in the just-released book “A Story Unfinished: 99 Days with Eliot” and I have to tell you – the parallels between our stories are uncanny.
They invited me to write a post for their book launch, and I was honored to accept. Here’s a short excerpt from my post.
My memory of the next eight years is fuzzy. When conversations turn to events or movies or the like from the decade of the 2000s, I rarely know or recall them. I can count on my fingers the number of times I slept through the night, especially after 2004, when Elli developed a seizure disorder right after we learned we were expecting a third child. In 2007, our fourth child was born with a serious medical condition of his own. I was past my capacity, in over my head, desperately trying to care for one child in a wheelchair who couldn’t walk or talk, two able-bodied children, and a newborn who needed two major surgeries his first year of life. I lived terrified that my sleep deprivation and chronic fatigue would cause me to forget something really important, and the consequences would be devastating.
(Psst. Don’t forget to order your copy of their book!)
They say that in one school, they aren’t doing search and rescue anymore. It’s search and recovery now.
All I can think to pray is “Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.”
I try not to make someone else’s tragedy about me or my particular political or theological persuasions. Better to err on the side of silence than to detonate a merciless word-bomb in the midst of suffering.
My own tragedies haunt in moments like this. The body-flattening fatigue of grief drops out of the sunny skies and renders me motionless, staring into space, for moments on end.
Paul wrote that we comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received. I have received much comfort from strangers, friends, and family alike. God, help me share that comfort. Help my words and actions be a help and not inflict more hurt.
Lord have mercy.