Twenty days ago, ironically enough on Father’s Day, we received one of those late night door knocks that only ever bring bad news. Our daughter, just 10 weeks or so from giving birth to our first grandchild, had noticed that the baby had stopped moving. The doctors at the hospital had been unable to find a heart beat and the fate of the baby would be confirmed with an ultrasound the following morning.
Sometimes the journey that we think we are travelling is abruptly ended, changed to a completely different one with a destination that nobody could foresee and that nobody wants.
Last week at the memorial service for baby Henry we were to release a helium balloon. As I left to collect it Margaret asked me to buy some small flowering plants to put near the water feature near the church door to add some colour. A couple of pots of gerberas with bright yellow flowers were perfect.
After the service was over, I planted them in some pots in the garden expecting them to be here to remind us of the grandson who isn’t here. But this morning I found this:
There was no doubt who the culprit was.
I was so angry, sad and despondent.
On the one hand it is just $20 worth of plants- another item on this horrible dog’s tally of destruction. But on the other hand, it touched me at a level of my soul because of the connection of these flowers to baby Henry. It is irrational but the destruction of these plants brought to the surface a new collection of emotions that needed to be felt and understood.
Today was a difficult day, but not just for my own grief. I heard of a father who died after an illness of several years whose family has literally been barely surviving for that time. I heard of the struggle of a good friend in a difficult marriage. I know of another young father who is about to die from an aggressive leukaemia.
And over the last few weeks we have heard of people with seemingly happy families and lovely children who have suffered a similar loss to ours.
The worst thing about being a parent is that you can’t fix the really important things in your children’s lives. Love for others allows us to share their joys, but it multiplies our capacity for hurt.
All of this points to the limitless capacity of God’s love to us. While two sets of parents were trying to help their son and daughter through an awful time there were little gracelets that brought light into the darkness. There were smiles in the tears brought to us by a loving Father who knows what it’s like to lose a Son.
So we walk a path we did not choose, and would not if it were ours to choose.
But we know that God is walking with us.