Like so many of you, I have hurt this week for the family of Rick Burgess, with the Rick and Bubba Show.
I don't know him personally and have never met him. But I share a bond with him. We have both had to say goodbye to our child.
Whenever I hear of someone else losing a child, it opens so many wounds. The death of your child changes you forever. You are no longer the person you were before he or she died. It's as if there are two worlds: the one before they died, and the one after.
I have prayed for Rick and his family repeatedly this week. I hurt and ache for his wife. There is something so completely unnatural about carrying a child, and then having to tell them goodbye. Unless you have held your child as they take their last breath on this Earth, you can't possibly understand the pain. You can sympathize, but you can't truly understand the hurt, the grief, the pain, the despair.
But the thing that has amazed me this week, is the strength this family has shown. I listened to Rick's message at his son's memorial service, and he's right. That was God speaking. A parent who has lost a child could never do that.
Chris and I are living proof that God can take a horrible and tragic situation and turn it into something positive. Every time I walk into the NICU at Huntsville Hospital and see those precious, tiny babies laying in beds that were purchased by donations to Melissa's Fund, I am overwhelmed. Her life means something. It meant something while she was on this Earth. And it means something now.
When I share my testimony, I always say, "This is never the path that Chris and I would have chosen. If God had given me the decision to take Melissa or allow her to stay, I would have kept her here with me. But this is the path he chose for us. And we are following it, and in awe of what he is doing through her." I can't think of a better way for us to honor Melissa's memory, than to be faithful to the God who loves her and who is keeping her until I can get there.
Don't get me wrong. We're not perfect. When Melissa died, I asked why. I couldn't understand why God would take my daughter, and allow mothers who are on drugs or who don't care about their children, to keep theirs. But I can see now, that God's purpose for Melissa's life is so much greater than anything she could have done on this Earth. I take comfort in that.
If I could talk to Rick and Sherry, I would tell them this: I know you can't imagine it now, but there will come a time when you won't cry all night long. There will come a time when you can say his name without crying. There will come a time where you can think of him and smile instead of cry.
Those things happen down the road. Right now, they are in the midst of intense grief and it's a grief that I wouldn't wish on anyone. But their faith in God is strong and he will carry them through.
I know, because he carried us.