We drove up I-81 to Baltimore yesterday and I had managed to go a couple of days without even thinking about the news of Steven Curtis Chapman's daughter. I had seen it first thing Thursday morning before work and, thankfully, shoveling mulch and spraying weed killer allowed me to not have to think about that five year old girl being struck and killed by her teenage brother in his Land Cruiser.
But yesterday, somewhere around Bristol, TN, Janna was driving and I was taking a snooze. She had slipped in a mix CD that I had made a year or so ago for a trip we took to Little Rock. I woke just in time to be caught completely unaware by track 12 or so. It was a live performance at the Dove awards - Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Mac Powell, and Jeremy Camp doing a tribute to Steven Curtis Chapman. Christian music's most important worship leaders expounding on the influence SCC has had on their lives and careers. It's short, really, only about 5 minutes, when it could have been 50.
The song came on and I looked back toward the back seat and I saw Laney (who's 5) playing with her toys and looking happy. My insides dropped. It's a good thing Janna was driving because I was so affected at that moment that I probably would've driven into a guardrail.
All I could think about for those 5 minutes were Steven and his family and what had happened to them. I had visions of ambulances being called... CPR being administered... hospital waiting rooms... walking in at night to an empty bedroom... waking up to check her bed hoping it was just a bad dream. I thought about the guilt, the life-changing, horrible guilt her brother will feel forever. And then I thought about how I would feel if Laney, my sweetheart, the apple of my eye, my beloved daughter, were suddenly gone.
I didn't cry. I wanted to, but I didn't want to have to explain to them why I had suddenly lost control in the middle of the interstate, so I willed the tears back. I'm having similar trouble writing this in the Hampton Inn breakfast area.
I went back upstairs to the hotel room after I wrote that. Janna and the kids were still in bed. The shades were still drawn and the room was still dark. They stirred when I came in and Sam moved over to Janna's bed to snuggle with her for a few minutes. I laid down next to Laney. I wrapped my arms around her and didn't even try to stop the tears. They were flowing freely and I found myself crying out to God in that moment, praying "Please don't take her from me, please don't take her from me..."
Today, a few days too late, I join the thousands who have already sent their condolences and good will to the Chapman family. I share in their grief and wish that I could take some of it upon myself. Maybe knowing that they will see her again, whole and sweet and happy, will grant them some measure of peace.
God, bless the Chapmans. Let them know that they are loved by millions around the world and they have friends that they've never met.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Posted by John Barber at 5:34 AM