I was immediately devastated by this story. I knew this little girl, I was friends with her mother, we've been on playdates with her siblings.....it just didn't seem possible. I didn't expect to be impacted so greatly by this, I figured I was a little more numb to death than most people because we have been surrounded by it for so long since Chunks has become a patient at St. Jude's. But this was just different. This little girl wasn't living a life of sickness, she was a healthy, happy toddler with an abundance of energy. Her life was cut short by an accident and it left her family shattered.
I sat with her mom for two hours this afternoon and cried with her, listened to stories about her precious daughter and mourned with her over this tragic loss. I was surprised how much this hit home with me. Just to see this mother so torn up by the passing of her daughter absolutely broke my heart on a level that I was not prepared for. I can't tell you how many times I have gone over this scenario in my mind with my own little girl and her unpredictable future. I know that is morbid but it just comes with the territory of having a "terminally ill" child. You think about death, you go through the emotions you might feel at the possibility of their passing, and you'll do it a million times over. And as I sat there today, watching this mommy mourn the loss of her little girl, it made me realize how much I have underestimated the devastation that comes with losing a child.
I laid in Chunks-a-lot's bed tonight for much longer than I usually do. She fell asleep almost immediately and that's usually my cue to exit and enjoy some quiet time, but I just couldn't convince myself to get up. I thought about how blessed I am to still have her in my life, how precious these moments are, how lucky I am to be able to lie in her bed and feel her breath on my face. I thought about not having her, how much it would hurt to lose her, how devastated our family would be should Jesus choose to take her.
It was like I felt those feelings that my friend was suffering through today. They were real for me, almost too real. And as much as I try and cherish all the little things, all the tiny moments that I know I'll never get back, I never truly realized how hard it would be to have to give her up until today.
This isn't about me and I don't mean to make it that way. These emotions and these feelings that I am experiencing were already there, I just have refused to acknowledge them. And yet today I couldn't escape them. My friend commented on how much she had hurt for our family, watching as we battled through cancer with Chunks, but she never thought she would have to walk through her own tragedy. I told her God puts people in our lives for a reason, He knows we're going to need them.
It's funny because all this time I thought God had placed people around me because I needed support, encouragement and strength. It never occurred to me that God might have placed me in someone's life because they needed a part of me that only exists because of what we have been through. I wish I didn't have to be there for her in these circumstances. I wish she could just have her baby girl back and make all of this go away. But instead I am left with the reality that Jesus has taken this precious child and it's killing me to watch her family as they suffer through this.
Her mom was overwhelmed with tears as she told me how she wished she could just hold her daughter one more time, kiss her once more, hug her one last time. Unlike the parents of cancer patients, this family didn't know their little one's life would be cut short. There was no warning, no preparation. They didn't go through the stages of her passing, they didn't hold her hand as she took her last breath.....Jesus just took her. Just like that.
I cried for most of the day today as I was completely overwhelmed by the grief of this situation. I thought all of my experience with what we have been through would make me better able to encourage my friend through this difficult time. Instead all I could do was sit there, speechless. There are no words, there is no encouragement, there is no relief in knowing that she is in a better place. They just want her back. And everything I know, or thought I knew, was turned upside down today as I was confronted with the reality of loss....true loss.
This family and their tragedy has forever impacted my life. The pain, the tears, the shock, the complete and utter suffering that I saw today brought me to my knees. I thought I was stronger than this, but it's somehow refreshing to know that I'm not. Please pray for this family who will remain in anonymity out of respect for their privacy. Pray for healing, for peace, for comfort and for strength as they prepare to lay to rest their precious little angel.