I will never forget the day of my brother’s wedding. What began a day of celebration, ended as the worst day of my life.
My daughter and I traveled early on Friday in anticipation of the big event. We had to leave my wife behind, as she had just given birth to our second daughter and was unable to travel with us. The ceremony flowed beautifully and my daughter enjoyed being the flower girl so much she ended up falling asleep by the end of the service. We took tons of pictures afterwards and headed over to the reception.
The reception, still to this day, is a blur to me. I cannot remember anything until I received a phone call from my mother-in-law. I do not recall the entire conversation, but I can still clearly hear the words, “Chris, she’s gone.” The despair in her voice still rings clearly in my head, even 6 years later. In that moment I learned my newborn daughter, Madison Rae, died. She fought hard, but succumbed to a pulmonary embolism. Her death shocked us, even though her chance of survival was not high. The next ten minutes were a whirlwind as I said my goodbyes to family, explaining the situation to my parents and siblings and driving back down to the hospital to be with my wife and family.
It took my daughter and I four hours to return to the hospital. She did not understand what was happening at the time and slept most of the ride. So we drove, spending most of the time in silence. I had no answers. I did not know what to think, nor how to feel. Most of all, I did not know what to do. What would I do when the drive ended, is what I continually asked myself. How would I be able to comfort my wife? I never experienced death in such a way before. Those four hours were the most difficult. I had only my thoughts and insufficiencies as company while I battled in prayer how to respond.
I honestly can no longer remember how I did respond. The only moment that clearly sticks out was the moment I held my daughter, the first and only time. It was a surreal experience holding her, but I can never forget that moment. However, what I do remember from those days were the people that came along side us and suffered with us in our tragic moment. Those that gave of their time to lighten our burden, those that gave their counsel in our time of need and those that simply gave their presence in our time of grief. The community I experienced brought me through this dark time. The love people showed by being present in our time of suffering, a reflection of the love God has for us, was a great blessing.
The four hours I drove to the hospital were some of the worst hours of my life. I was alone. I was isolated. I easily could have remained in that frame of mind. And I will admit there were moments in the years following I experienced those hours all over again. But it was love that saw me through.
Ephesians 4:2 tells us to bear with one another in love. It was this kind of love that saw me through my worst tragedy. I choose to show this same love.