What the short life, and death, of our daughter taught us about God and ourselves.
Allie Rose would have been 4 this year. She would be learning her letters, colors and Sunday school songs. Her big sister would be teaching her how to sing “Fuzzy Caterpillar” and her ABCs. Her daddy and I would be reveling in the chance to watch another beautiful dark-haired, blue-eyed baby girl learn and grow every day.
Instead, we mark this time of year with a great deal of sadness; as we only had three short weeks to love our beautiful Allie Rose on this Earth.
Let me correct that. We love her every single day, but we only had three weeks before Jesus took her home to him.
Losing a child is an unexplainable feeling. Even for the most faithful, you find yourself questioning. Although you know everything happens for a reason, there’s something almost cruel about getting to love that precious baby for three weeks, just to have her taken away. Now, I’m not saying I doubt God’s plan because I know He knows what I cannot. And I never doubted He would see me through it, and He did.
But it doesn’t mean I woke up the next day and said “OK, God. I get it.” There were questions. There was sadness. There was anger and doubt and every emotion. But something deep seeded in me kept me going.
The faith that God would never leave me. I thought about the poem “Footprints in the Sand,” and I could picture God carrying me through this turmoil. And I knew God was right there with me, that he’d shoulder my burden when I couldn’t. For the first time, I gave my burden to Him and I could function. I knew that I needed to be strong for my family. For my husband and our four-year-old daughter.
He responded immediately.
Two very powerful events helped me to know I was going to be OK. We would be OK.
I have always known God put some amazing people in my life. My best friends never left my side. My family held my hand through every step of the process. My big brother sat with me in the funeral home and cried with me as we listed our mother as “preceded in death” on a newborn’s obituary.
But the full force of God’s support for us on Earth was really driven home the day of Allie’s funeral. We plalnned a small visitation for just family and then a simple graveside service as very few people in our lives had met her. But when we pulled up to the cemetery, we were astounded. I’d never seen so many people at a funeral before.
People from every single walk of our lives showed up for the funeral of a child most of them had never met. It must have taken hours for the line to go through and hug us. I sat there sandwiched between my dad and my husband hugging people I hadn’t seen in years. Friends from college, our brothers and sisters from church, co-workers from our old jobs. More people from my hometown than I could even imagine. The top executives from my company were there.
What’s most impressive about this turnout is it was the coldest day of the year. Sub-zero temperatures, and these people stood in the freezing cold to honor the all-too-short life of a child they never knew. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember what the elder from our church said during the service as I spent the entire time watching a girl from my office rub her hands together and fight back the tears in this weather.
I couldn’t believe she – and so many others – were there, and I took great comfort in knowing that God had brought all these people to us. He was showing us that He would take care of us through all of them.
Not long after Allie’s funeral; God showed his love for us again – this time even more powerful than that cold January day.
The first time my husband and I attended church after Allie’s death, the elder called on my husband to lead the closing prayer. My husband says the most beautiful prayers, and this day was no exception. As he thanked the Lord for sending His son to die for our sins, I was immediately over come with emotion.
It felt like the wind had been knocked out of me, and I immediately started crying.
It’s the first time I remember being overcome by the Holy Spirit, and I was filled with a comforting thought that HE alone knew my pain. That God knows, first hand, the pain of losing a child.
In that moment, I knew and fully trusted God to guide me through my grief.
I miss Allie Rose every day. I think about her every day. But there has to be meaning in her life and in her death. Maybe I’ll never know what that meaning is, but we still honor her in our family pictures and have slowly started placing pictures of her up around our house.
God graced us with another baby two years ago – a son – whom we love so fiercely. Sometimes I think God knew his precious life had to come into this world, and probably would not have if we hadn’t lost Allie.
Let me just say our son could never and will never be a replacement for the beautiful baby we lost, but we knew in our hearts that our family wasn’t complete. And the joy and laughter our son has brought into our home may not have happened otherwise.
Again, his life takes nothing away from his sister, and he will grow up knowing that God sent us the most beautiful rainbow when we’d recovered from the storm of losing her. Allie’s baby brother and big sister will know their angel sister and will always know how loved she is.
As we prepare for the New Year – the anniversary of her passing – we look on with trepidation knowing New Years will always be a difficult time for us. But we take comfort in knowing her precious life is in the hands of God and – just like the poem – God will carry us through the hard times.
–By Stephanie Boothe | Metro Voice Contributing Editor
This story appears as part of our Respect Life Month Issue.