It was a glorious, crisp spring day in early March. The church is only a short walk from our house and the gardens and verges were a beautiful palette of spring colours, pink, white, yellow and purple splashed liberally amongst the green buds and leaves of trees and shrubs. It was these wide, tree lined streets that had first attracted us to the area almost fifteen years earlier. In addition to the local church there was a row of shops and a library in one direction and a school and park in the other. Catherine, our first child, was just two years old at the time and it seemed an ideal neighbourhood in which to bring up a family.Our second child was born the following spring.
The sun was shining as we walked up the little path to the church to receive a cheery greeting from the steward on the door.
“Glorious, isn’t it?” My husband and I replied.
Yes it WAS lovely! I had no inkling that in a just few short hours this glorious day was going to become the blackest day of my life.
We settled down and the service began with a worship song as it always did.
It was during the minister’s sermon that I noticed the police car driving by the church, just a momentary distraction, no siren or flashing lights to indicate anything serious, so I turned my attention back the service.
The clock crept towards midday and minister was announcing the final hymn when the steward came over to husband and I . He told us that there were two people in the lobby waiting to see us.
I still had no idea, as we followed him out, that in the next few moments my life would be changed forever.
I saw a policeman and woman standing by the front door to the church. I had a sinking feeling that something was not right.
“What is it? Is it Catherine?”
Then I heard those words that every parent dreads and that
No one should ever have to hear.
My beautiful daughter was dead.
I was plummeted, in an instant, into the deepest, darkest abyss. Blackness descended over that day like a curtain at the end of a theatre show. All the normality of that spring Sunday morning was completely erased.
It was if all the light had been extinguished; darkness blotted out the sun and covered the earth like that terrible day when another mother had to stand and watch her beloved son die on the hill of Golgotha.
There are no adequate words to describe the feeling of terrible aching loss , the trauma of sudden separation from the child to whom I given birth, loved and nurtured though childhood and the turmoil of the teenage years.
Although I knew she was now with God this did not make the loss any easier for me to bear. I wanted to see her again, NOW, not sometime in the future. I so wanted to hold her close and feel the warmth of her body beside me. The physical feeling of emptiness inside lasted for months.
The roller-coaster of emotions also continued for a long time, the twisting and turning caused sinking feelings in my stomach and waves of nausea. I longed for the world to stop and allow me off.
I wanted to wake up and realise that it had all been a bad dream. The urge to pretend it had not REALLY happened was incredibly strong maybe because the death of a child is almost impossible to bear. Yet God was still there in that black place. I knew that I could talk to God about how much I was hurting. I understood in a new way what it had cost God to sacrifice His son, Jesus, to die for our redemption.
Our church family rallied around doing many practical things and continued to support us.
Eighteen months have now elapsed since that blackest of days and I can truly testify to the truth of Romans 8 v 38
‘I am convinced that neither death nor life….neither the present or the future ... nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’
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