How I’m Surviving the Death of My Daughter: 17 Years Later
No parent ever dreams of burying their child. Seventeen years ago on this day, I laid my beautiful little girl to rest way too soon. This was not part of my plan.
AN UNEXPECTED BLESSING
Angel here and most of you know I am a mother of four earthly kiddos and one angel baby. My Kathern Elizabeth Freels was born on May 12, 2004, several weeks too soon and ready to take on the world in her own way. A head full of curly dark brown hair, piercing blue eyes, tanned skin, and a voice that could command a room (any of this sound familiar?). Kathern is our second born. She came just 15 months after her brother, Parker. Her daddy and I were not even close to ready to have another baby much less the first one we already had but ready or not here she was coming. I remember thinking to myself "how did I get so lucky?" not knowing I was completely blessed. Luck has nothing to do with it. God gifted this beautiful baby to our family to love and cherish even if only for a very short period of time.
Kathern made me feel needed and loved as I had never known. It wasn't that I had never felt love before my mother loved me more than her own life I just felt a special bond to Kathern. I know mothers are supposed to be bonded to their children but this was different. If I was in the room no one else could hold her. She cried if I wasn't near. She loved cuddling up as close to my neck and chest as possible and I remember how it felt to hear her take a breath and even more just how she smelled after her bath. Mostly she loved my singing (I tell myself) because I could prop her on my knees and belt out all her favorites as she gazed at me admiringly as if I was the only person in the world.
THE DAY WE LOST HER
I remember the day down to the smallest detail. She woke up early and we laid in bed for snuggles just a bit longer that day. She wore a white onesie with colorful butterflies all over it and a matching bib. My most vivid memory is when I told her goodbye even as I type I can feel knots in my gut. She was still in her car seat and I kissed her sweet face as she kicked her feet and cooed (she had just started to do that). I told her how much I loved her and promised her I would be back to get her that afternoon. Instead of picking her up from the sitter, I was holding my lifeless baby trying to wake up from the nightmare. SIDS took the life of my baby but the day she left this earth her life was just beginning and so was mine.
NOT IN MY PLANS
Losing my sweet baby was not in my plan. Having her wasn't either but goodness the joy she brought when she arrived. It was like it all made sense. She completed our family one little boy and one beautiful little girl and life for me seemed good. God had other plans and he used a tiny baby to finish the good work he had begun years ago. I would have no idea the impact my little girl would have on my faith. In fact, it made me realized just how real God is. There is an old saying "Man plans and God laughs" while this is no laughing matter you get what I mean. In all transparency, my worst fear was losing a child. I remember thinking after having Parker if I ever lost him I would just die. I didn't die, no God gave me new life.
GOD IS IN CONTROL
I'm a slow learner. Maybe it's that I'm hard-headed but it still took me a bit to give my life completely over to the Lord. I never doubted he was real even after the death of Kathern but I think we all wonder the depths of his power or at least at my young age I did. Let me tell you he is real and he is mighty. You can try and do it your way but if it isn't part of the story God is writing for you believe you and me he will clearly show you he is the author.
Romans 8:28 says: And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
I'm sure you're saying how could losing your baby be good but it changed the entire path of my life. It made me appreciate life more, trust the Lord more, and it made me want to honor those plans. I'd rather die to myself here on earth and have the chance to live in eternity with my loved ones.
WHAT IS FAITH?
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and the assurance that the lord is working, even though we cannot see it. Sure I could choose to believe that since I have never seen God he isn't real. I choose to walk by faith and not by sight. You see the Lord never had to gift me with Kathern. He chose me of all the mothers in the world to place her in my arms and to love even if only for a few months. I choose to believe when I leave this world I will see her again.
Albert Camus is quoted saying:
“I would rather live my life as if there is a god and die to find out there isn't than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.”
I feel the exact same way. My faith carries me through the toughest most awful times in my life and it also graces me in the most joyous. It has allowed me to help others with their own struggles sharing what God has done for me and can do for them too. No one is outside the graces of the Lord who welcomes him into their heart.
TODAY WE CELEBRATE
Today we will celebrate the life of our beautiful Kathern. We will speak her name and keep her in our thoughts. We will honor her memory and thank God he gave her to us. I will personally smile and bask in the thought of seeing her face again when I am finally called home from this earth.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to share my girl with you. To walk you through her short but powerful life that continues to impact 17 years later.
No matter my circumstances this I know: GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!