AN UNFINISHED SYMPHONY (Part 3 of 3)
A Grandfather’s Thoughts on Sudden Infant Death (SIDS)
A Guest Post by John K.
I am thinking of the bedtime episode with the 23rd Psalm. Kadence never met my own mother, her great grandmother. I am confident they have met now. I can picture them sitting together in heaven and Kadence telling her, “Hey, Great Grandma, you know what? Grandpa said the 23rd Psalm to me just like you said to – and guess what! It worked!” It reminds me of the importance of passing our faith from generation to generation. In the Anglican church I attend we close every service with this: “Glory to God, whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. Amen.” It is from Ephesians 3:20,21. From generation to generation. As has been said, Christianity is always one generation away from extinction. Keep the faith... pass it on.
We went in to the apartment to get a few things in preparation for the memorial service. Jon and Jen had not been back since the night at the hospital, so everything was just as it had been left the night of that panic trip to emergency. The high chair was in the kitchen. There were three different Bibles, each open to the same passage. There was a Strong’s Concordance open on the table, and a couple of textbooks. Jon had been doing his Bible school homework at the kitchen table; an essay on Ruth, the story of the bond of love between a daughter and mother.
* * *
There is some question whether someone should clear out the baby’s room before Jon and Jen return to the apartment. They think it may be too painful for them to see her things. Having walked into her room, I don’t think so. Even with the initial lump in my throat, I found it somehow comforting to be among her things. To see her change table, her crib, her dresser with the coloured knobs, her outfits in the drawers. To strip the room bare as if there were some terrible secret, something to hide, I think would not be the right thing to do. It would be like the closed off wing of a Victorian mansion where the insane relative was kept. It will be good, I think, for Jen to see Kadence’s things once again, and to tidy them up herself, in her own time.
* * *
It’s not supposed to be like this. It’s tough when it’s not supposed to happen. I have lost both my parents, but that was different. They were supposed to die, eventually. Yes, there was sadness, but not the overwhelming grief there is now. When one loses parents, one has many memories to look back on. Those memories are something that cannot be taken away. With a tiny baby, just beginning life, the memories are still in the future. They haven’t happened yet. They have been stolen even before they occur.
* * *
It hurts so badly when your own child is hurting, but this is worse. Your own baby is in pain because she, herself, lost her own child. The pain is doubled.
* * *
From time to time, black thoughts creep into my head; dark thoughts of blame and fault. These are thoughts that dare not even be thought, let alone written. Kadence is gone; let healing begin. I keep thinking, “It didn’t have to happen.” And yet it did, and it cannot be changed.
People say that only time will heal the pain. Why doesn’t time just jump forward so I could be over the anguish.
* * *
The Bible talks of God comforting us in our troubles so that we in turn can comfort those in trouble themselves. That’s alright for some troubles, but for this? Is that the reason for all this? Surely not! That would be too cruel.
* * *
How selfish is my grief. Do I mourn for Kadence or for my own pain?
* * *
Why? Why Kadence, child of Christian parents, grandchild of Christian grandparents? Is it because as Christians we are supposed to find it easier to take? Is our faith supposed to make this easier to bear? Is that it, God? If so, it’s just plain cruel.
* * *
I have asked the question over and over again. Why? What was the point?
Oddly enough, this is the question upon which I now, in a sense, dwell the least. It’s not that I know that some day I will have the answer. It is that when that day comes, I will no longer have the question. I will not even have to ask it. When I see her again, the question will be gone forever from my mind before it ever comes to my lips. I think of what was said by the prophet Isaiah,
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” (Isaiah 65: 24)
* * *
My trust in the sovereignty of God has been strengthened through all of this, not lessened. The sovereignty of God had been a mere phrase of dogma, a teaching of the church, a concept to which I subscribed. Yes, there had been times in my life when it came close to home, but nothing like this. Here I have had to think about it, analyse it, wonder about it, wrestle with it. Faith has been tested, and it has been made stronger. This has been the refiner’s fire.
* * *
A cadence is a rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds...
Just as a beautiful sequence of notes falls with pleasure upon the ear bringing peace to the soul, joy to the heart and a smile to the lips, so did Kadence come into our lives.
But just as a beautiful note flares brilliantly and then fades into silence, she did not linger nearly long enough.
In a classical symphony, as one movement fades into stillness, we wait quietly, expectantly, for the next movement to begin. But here there is no next movement, at least not in this world. The music has ended before it has any right to do so. We sit, dumbly, waiting for more, but there is no more. The performance has ended. The musicians are putting away their instruments even before the applause has begun. We are shocked, silent. We are not ready for this. But that’s all there is. This is, truly, an Unfinished Symphony.
* * *
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil of fade -- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith -- of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
(1 Peter 1: 3-9)