Two weeks or so ago I attended a visitation for an eighteen year old. The young daughter of an old friend. I arrived at the funeral home weak and wordless. My hand shook as I signed the guest book. I had nothing, but a hug to offer. My friend and I had not seen each other in twenty plus years and while our lives had drifted apart there was a time when I loved her like a sister. My heart ached for her. This was not the reunion we should’ve had.
Visitations and funerals are never easy, but when it is a young life lost the pain is so much deeper. When an older person dies, certainly it hurts, but it is accepted. There is comfort to be found in all that person accomplished, all of the memories made, the future generation they played a role in creating. Losing a young person is simply harder to accept. You mourn not only the person, but the future they didn’t get to have. To mourn for someone who hasn’t graduated, married, or held their own child is entirely unfair. As my friend said “this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.”
Times like these are the hardest of life’s moments. Gratitude is hard to come by and anger is readily available. A dangerous combination that can challenge one’s faith. It is at this crossroads that I’ve witnessed something amazing happen. I’ve seen grieving parents choose to lean into God’s open arms and find comfort. While they are still devastated, they are also strengthened. When you witness someone who is suffering find strength to carry on with grace it serves as testimony to all that is good. And while they may feel they’re struggling to breathe, they are breathing life into this broken world.
I believe beauty is a gift from God. A gift meant to be savored. A gift that no matter how brief its presence was meant to leave a lasting impression.
So to the mommas who’ve lost precious babes, please know that they are remembered for all of their beauty. They were God’s gift to you. And now your walk of faith is your gift to the rest of us. It is undoubtedly brutal and I wish you didn’t have this role to play, but I’m humbled by your courage to continue. A piece of life’s puzzle, a piece of yourself, is gone. There is nothing to fill that void.
May your pain inspire the rest of us to treasure our gifts. To hold those dear to us just a bit tighter. To truly see the vibrant colors of nature. To intently listen to a child’s story. To seek silliness, for I know you’d give anything to hear your child’s laughter again. May your loss help us to recognize the significance of a million mundane moments that are not guaranteed to return.
When someone young dies it is proof of life’s fragility and we can not ignore our own mortality. A harsh reminder to not squander our days. For this world offers us beauty, but sometimes it comes and goes far too quickly.
Special thanks to my friend Maribeth Gedatus for sharing her lovely images.