The last two weeks, I have been longing for May. This sounds dramatic, but it’s not, really: April was mostly cold and gross here in Ohio and we had some unpleasant family news in April and I was longing for the sunshine I KNEW May would bring physically at least. But last night, on May 1, the day I was longing for, I realized that some people dread this spring month, even with it’s promise of summer. For some, May Day comes in like a Lion, and as each day passes, the roar gets louder and louder. This is true especially for Mary Beth Chapman. The Christian author and wife of singer Steven Curtis Chapman took to her blog yesterday and wrote a rather raw, honest, and painfully beautiful article called “I Hate May,” about the loss of their daughter Maria ten years ago this month. Maria, you may recall, was tragically and accidentally killed when struck by a family car in her own driveway, driven by one of her older brothers. She was seven.
Photo: Mary Beth Chapman/Facebook
With the brutal honesty of a mom who lives with grief every day, Mary Beth Chapman describes how she carries her daughter’s loss – signified by the month of May – with her at all times. She says:
I’ve been in major reflective mode these last couple of months and in particular, this month, the month of May. Let it be known that I hate the month of May. I feel it coming all year long. As soon as one May ends, the journey to the next begins. It’s daunting. Like going around a racetrack over and over again. As soon as I pass through May, I literally see the next one way out in the distance around a few curves and the journey starts all over again, fresh track to travel on, but the same journey. The journey toward the month of May is when everything went terribly wrong. Or did it?
Chapman honestly explores the grief a Christian mom in particular must wrestle with when they lose a child: yes, there is constant grief. Yes, there is hope in the knowledge that her child is with Christ, and that they will be together again one day. Yes, God’s timing is perfect. And yes, being here without Maria, Mary Beth says, “sucks. I hate that word, but I’m here to tell you, that is a mild word to describe it.”
I myself have not buried a child, but I have friends who have. Their grief is raw, and the question of “What if that happened to me?” is so painful, that I can only glance at it sidelong. To stare their grief in the face is too hard. When I allow myself to try, I can almost feel it start burning my heart from the inside out. How do they continue on, and put one foot in front of the other for their other kids?
Photo: Mary Beth Chapman/Facebook
With God’s help, is the only way. Chapman clearly outlines this as she describes her thought life since losing Maria. Though she and Steven Curtis Chapman take great joy in their five other children and now, six grandchildren, the struggle is, as the trendy saying goes…REAL. She continues:
I’m guessing that those reading this who have lost loved ones, or are struggling with something hard in their life know what I’m talking about. It is still so dang (and trust me, dang is not the word I want to type) hard. Let me show you. Here is an example of some of the thoughts I battle…
The anchor of our faith is hope. (Yippee…thought sarcastically.)
We know we will SEE her again. (Great, but I’m not with her now.)
We are walking towards her not away from her. (I have a hard time not looking back and seeing the mess. I miss her.)