Wednesday, July 23, 2008
It is indeed a special week for our family. Today we celebrate the Feast Day of our youngest daughter, my precious Celeste Marie.
Three years ago today, the doors of Heaven swung open wide to receive her perfect little soul. That day was honestly one of the most wondrous days of my life. I felt I got a glimpse of that Heaven, her eternal home. I know she's there now praying for me, helping me to get there one day, too.
I have mentioned her several times here, but I haven't told too much of her story. Hers is by any standard a very sad one. The short version is this: she was born with a heart defect, one so severe that she needed a heart transplant. She never received that transplant, and somehow developed serious brain damage as well. Since she was then no longer eligible for a transplant, we removed her life-support and allowed her to die peacefully at the age of four months.
There is so much more to the long version, of course. So much in fact that I felt called to tell her story in a book, which I did in Broken and Blessed: A Life Story. In the book I explore the details of her life, her sufferings, and my own.
In the book I reveal a part of my heart, a part laid bare on days like today. My little girl suffered so much and was taken from me so quickly. Will there ever be an adequate answer when my soul cries out? Why? Why my baby?
I've tried to answer this question many times, and others always want to know the how as well. How did you do it? they ask. How did you suffer through such a traumatic experience and emerge with your faith intact, with a sense of joy?
The answer, my friends, is a person, the person I love even more than I loved Celeste. The answer is Jesus.
I don't like to over-spirtualize things, but the answer here is clear. I could not have survived without Jesus. He used the experience of my daughter's life and death to draw me into His Heart in a way that nothing else could. In some mysterious, mystical way, Jesus used Celeste and her sufferings to invite me into His Life. I am convinced that her life was part of His Plan, and that He willed for me (and for many others) to grow in our relationship with Him because of Celeste.
Like all authors, I want my book to be read. But I am especially passionate about this book because I feel with all my heart that Jesus wants to use her story to draw lots of folks to Him.
I know she did not suffer in vain. I know that three years ago today, as I rocked her and promised her I'd write that book, I was doing God's will. I know today as I remember her with joy and love, not bitterness, I am continuing to live out her legacy. I am happy to be able to share her with others, to remind them of the beauty of her message. Each of us has a unique mission given to us by God. All lives have purpose and meaning!
A wise friend who also lost a young child told me once that my pain would never diminish, that I would always feel it strongly -- but that I would simply feel it less often. I've found this to be true. Of course I am feeling that pain today, as I go to that place in my heart reserved for Celeste. But I am also feeling a profound sense of peace and wonder as I remember the glimpse of Heaven I was able to witness. And hoping that when the door to Heaven closed, Baby Girl was able to prop it open for me, just wide enough for me to sneak in.
You can see the video I prepared for Celeste's last birthday here.
Thank you for your prayers.