I’ve lately been writing a lot about the need for courage in the face of death. A couple weeks ago, my own courage in the face of death was put to the test when, after hitting her head on a concrete floor, my beautiful 13-month-old baby girl passed out for roughly a minute.
Nothing could have prepared me for this, and I’m honestly still trying to make sense of it. It is every father’s nightmare.
It happened while my family and a bunch of our friends were out to lunch following the Divine Liturgy. Having just participated in the Lord’s Table, we extended our Eucharistic community through the lifting up of our lunch table.
My baby had just started walking a couple weeks prior, so she was still very new to the whole biped way of life (aren’t we all?). I was walking right behind her, half-distracted by the goings-on of the restaurant as well as the Cubs game on television. She leaned up against a slick, vinyl bench, and down she went, smacking the back of her head square on the ground.
At this point, other than being scared and in pain, she seemed fine. Just a normal, albeit hard fall, I thought. She started crying, as one would expect, but as I picked her up and walked her to her mommy, she must have been unable to get a breath in the midst of her deep pain, which is when her eyes rolled back, and she passed out in my arms.
Even writing this now, I struggle to put the words down, horrified and fighting back tears as images of my infant daughter, limp and unconscious, run through my head.
I have never been more afraid than I was then.
I have never felt more vulnerable than I did at that moment.
I realized just how swiftly my “happiness” could be taken away from me and how fragile everything that I’m working to build for my family and myself really is.
Obviously, no parent wants to see their kid pass out, no parent wants to see their child die, and unfortunately, far too many parents have to go through such tragedy. I have several friends who have lost babies to miscarriage, SIDS, or some other fatal disease.
And after the fainting incident, I can honestly say that how these people found ways through the pain that I only momentarily was afraid of…well, it’s beyond me.
And I think that’s just the point. It is beyond any of us.
The only explanation I have is that somehow these parents who have lost their children believe, deep in their souls, that life is stronger than death. They bravely believe that Christ is stronger than death.
They must have a firm conviction that Christ truly has defeated death, or they are at least actively practicing this conviction, leaning into the discomfort, the pain, the tragedy of losing a child.
These courageous parents choose love and hope, trusting in Christ even when faced with the inescapable reality of death. These are people whom I wish to emulate.
Because the reality of our world is bleak.
It seems like almost every day that we see some news story about someone (or even a bunch of someones) dying far too soon and far too violently. Why do I think that I am impervious to the threat of having my own heart broken?
Death is coming for me and for my children. The only hope is Jesus Christ.
And I felt the need to have that hope, a need to trust the Christ is mightier than anything that could take my baby away from me. I felt the need for that hope when death came knocking at the door of my faith and the only answer that came was the hollow echo of nothingness.
I realized how truly, deeply afraid I am, how much I continually trust in myself to keep my family safe, to keep myself safe. But no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I convince myself that I can protect my children, the reality is that I can’t.
And that terrifies me.
So more than having a lesson or some kind of thesis with this blog post, I write it more as a confession. I write it to confess that I struggle, that my faith gets battered up against the cold, hard reality of death. Or rather, my lack of faith is exposed by the moments that terrify me, that truly deeply shake me to my core.
And I write it as a request because I know I’m not alone. That we can pray for one another that we can learn to hold each other close as we lift each other up to the Lord Jesus Christ, the One in whom we must choose to hope daily, for He alone is the Resurrection and the Life.
Dark Path: Desositphotos
Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his first MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.