My heart is heavy today.
In July of 1982, our four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Initially, she responded well to the treatments and the disease was soon in remission. It didn’t last. On Oct. 5, my 30th birthday, we were told that she had relapsed. That led to an eight week stay in the children’s cancer ward at the University Hospital in Edmonton. Shortly after we arrived, I met another young couple from Sedgewick in the hospital corridor. Robie was a former student of mine and I knew her husband, Perry, vaguely. They were carrying their infant son, Brett, who was covered in bruises, a common symptom of leukemia. I still remember the horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I realized that another child from our tiny town was suffering from the same terrible disease.
The next year was a long and difficult one for both our families. Early in June, Robie and Perry lost their beloved Brett just short of his second birthday. Our Janina followed three months later. Richard and I had three-year-old, Matthew, and our brand new daughter, Melaina, to keep us from completely falling to pieces but Robie and Perry’s arms were empty.
The following year joy revisited both families. On July 10, the day that would have been Janina’s sixth birthday, Robie gave birth to Brendyn Brett and exactly two weeks later, we were blessed by the birth of our adopted son, Nathan. Our boys were dedicated to the Lord in the same Sunday morning service with our pastor and Robie’s father, a retired United Church minister, both participating in the ceremony. Over the next few years, two more sons were added to Robie and Perry’s family. As time went by, our paths went in different directions and we didn’t maintain a close relationship but the bond of common loss remained.
Late the night before last, less than three weeks after the birth of his first child, Greyson Brett, 27-year-old Brendyn died in a tragic accident.
What can I say?
Losing a child is every parent’s worse nightmare. Losing a second one, unimaginable. As a child, our Matthew was severely asthmatic and medications weren’t what they are today. In the early days after his sister’s death, he was often very sick. I remember standing at his sister’s graveside railing at God and pleading that I would not have to put another of my children in the ground. I cannot begin to imagine the anguish that Robie and Perry are experiencing today.
What can I say?
Today my Facebook status says “I can’t explain why God lets bad things happen but when hearts are hurting and life doesn’t make any sense, I still believe that there’s no road too difficult when we walk by His side.”
What more can I possibly say?