Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Post No One Wants to Write


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.

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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.

4 comments:

Shirley said...

You know, obviously, that I have had 5 year old children, so I feel your pain. The thought is always in the back of your mind - at least it was in mine - what if something happens to one of them? And you never stop asking God to please not take them.

the hamster said...

john - i heard about the chapmans several days ago. we've been with my dad since then. he's sick and my heart was heavy with him over the weekend. in light of our family situation, this thing with the chapman's has been more like a trivial celebrity fact than a tragedy. but i'm home now. we had a good weekend with my dad. he's good and his spirits are high and i'm ready to come home and reconnect with life outside of our immediate circle.

and then i read this post. and i watched this video. and it all finally hit me. and when it hit, it hit hard. and i just had to stop here for a moment and let it sink down into me.

i've always appreciated this man. i've always found him full of some kind of integrity and goodness that seemed lacking in many other places. and it's hard to know that this man is hurting badly right now.

and maybe more than that, i feel what you brought forth: this father's heart that longs for the health and safety and well-being and happiness of those we love, and how easily that father's heart can be misplaced among the motions of life, but how that father's heart aches to be in the right places more consistently.

bless you, john. bless you, bless you, bless you, bless you for putting yourself and these moments out here for us to experience. bless you for being honest and reminding us what the father heart of God looks like and grieves like. i do not have children yet. my biological clock is ticking and this past weekend, when we were in a half-priced bookstore, i found myself looking at books i want to read to my kids one day. i picked out half a dozen titles even thinking which ones i would read to my daughter and which ones i would read to my son. and i drove away from that store, my ten year old niece in the backseat angry with me because i did not buy her a book after she threw a temper tantrum, and i thought, "my Lord, they're not even here yet, i've never even seen my kids, and i already have so much to say to them."

you bless me, john. you really do bless me. and i appreciate you for many reasons.

Janna said...

what was really strange is "the funeral" was the next song on the mix CD you made like two years ago.

that song, turned up so loud, w/ thoughts of SCC, driving w/ our own 5 year old in the back of the car -- truly overwhelming.

Rachel said...

This has profoundly affected me as well. I'm glad you posted about it to help express some of the grief that we are all feeling on their behalf.