This is not a post about death and loss, though today marks Maddie’s sixth anniversary in Heaven. This is a post about a child’s remarkable life and lives touched. This is a post, again, about love.
I first saw Maddie right after she was born, and I cared for her throughout her whole little life. She was gorgeous and smart and wicked funny, with a sparkle in her eye that spoke of the joy she both felt and exuded. Maddie was a child who got a “kick” out of life . . . I last saw Maddie late on the night of July 13, 2008, after a phone call from Molly, my nurse practitioner and Maddie’s mommy at about 1115 pm. “I think she’s not breathing!” choked over the phone. I made the fastest drive possible from my house to Children’s Hospital, my pastor praying me there. I had the privilege of performing Maddie’s first and final exams. There have been other, precious patients I have lost and grieved, to be sure. Maddie, to date, is the only one I have been with as her heart slowed and quietly, peacefully stopped. That moment was the deepest, most profound honor of my career.
Maddie’s memorial service was beautifully arranged. In the hallway of the church was a photo-essay of Maddie’s life, and the soundtrack her parents chose was “Say” by John Mayer. I had never heard that song before, but watching the photos and listening to the lyrics nearly brought me to my knees with the Truth being spoken. “Say what you need to say. Say what you need to say. . .” It was not a new truth, rather an ancient one that rent my heart and soul tenderly open. Whatever it is,
“have no fear for giving over
you’d better know that in the end
it’s better to say too much
than never to say what you need to say again.”
Yes. and so I do. Say.
Then, during the service itself, Maddie’s pastor spoke of “rattling, raging against the gates of Heaven,” when we are angry with God. He spoke the truth that God is bigger than our deepest hurt and anger, that His love for us cannot be shaken. In fact, when we honestly let fly our pain, our rage, our questions, we are deeply honoring Him.
We can bring our entire broken selves to Him, not just the pretty bits and the needful bits, but also the shattered, jagged shards we feel are beyond repair. He will meet us and love all of us, exactly as we are. I knew this before Maddie’s memorial service, but as one who has spent much of her life trying to hide the broken, unworthy, unlovable mess that is me, the truth spoken that night was transforming.
The whole experience with Maddie was amazing, profound, heart-breaking, life-changing, faith-deepening . . .and the thing is I am just of one of thousands of lives touched by her precious life and death.
It is with these discovered and now beloved truths in mind, that I want to close this post by “Saying,” simply I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3