Sunday, May 11, 2008

Words for Hope’s Funeral

Events from Satruday May 10

These were words I spoke at Hope's Funeral Today

On our wedding day some of you may remember that my vows to Laurie included a scripture from the first chapter of Joshua:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.Joshua 1:9

I could not have possibly known then just how important it would be for Laurie and I to keep these words before us these past five years (almost). We've lived through Hurricane Isabel, temporary exile in Glen Burnie while the parsonage was remodeled, fertility struggles, pregnancies, miscarriages, and so many other smaller struggles that are part of daily life.

By God's grace we have survived and even thrived amongst the trials and hardships. I feel as if the cord of three strands between God and the two of us that I spoke of on our wedding day grows stronger day-by-day. Difficult times force us to our knees; they make us rely on God more than ever, and they make us lean on each other for support. That has certainly been true for us in the past and it is definitely true today as we gather to do the unthinkable—bury our infant daughter Hope Marie.

The arrival of our twin girls and the subsequent loss of Hope has been like nothing we've ever experienced and I pray we never experience anything like it ever again. But I have to say that through all that has happened this week I have felt a sense of God with us.

• with us as we delivered our girls a week ago Friday;
• with us as the news about Hope got progressively worse during the day Friday and she was transferred to Johns Hopkins;
• with us as we sat with Becca in the NICU at Franklin Square last weekend and as she nursed for the first time;
• with us on Saturday as the doctors at Hopkins gave Laurie's mom and me the terrible news about Hope's condition—there was really no hope for our Hope;
• with us on Saturday as I had to break the news to Laurie who was still lying in a hospital bed recovering from her C-section;
• with us on Sunday as we had to go to Hopkins to baptize and say goodbye to Hope;
• with us as we went to Duda Rucks Funeral Home on Tuesday to plan Hope's funeral;
• with us as we bought Becca home from the hospital on Wednesday;
• with us at the viewing last night; and now
• with us today as we lay our darling Hope to rest.

Through all the emotional whiplash of the past eight days, I truly believe God has been with us!

Laurie and I truly feel that the prayers that have been lifted up on our behalf have carried us through these excruciatingly difficult days and will continue to sustain us in the days to come. We are also thankful to be part of a church family that can offer love and support and where there are people who have walked through the very same valley of the shadow of death of losing a child that we now walk. We will especially need you all in the days ahead. We will also need everyone's help to surround Brady and Becca with love and help them through this confusing time.

We got a delivery from the NICU at Hopkins Thursday afternoon that contained a little belongings box for Hope. We went through the box together with tears. They sent a nice card signed by a number of the NICU staff and also included pictures of Hope and other things that were with her when she was in the NICU at Hopkins—a cross, an angel, blankets, her outfit, etc. The card they included with the box said:

When someone comes into our lives…
And they are too quietly and quickly gone,
They leave footprints on our hearts…
And their memory stays with us forever.

I liked the sentiment very much; it seems true of our darling Hope. Even in the brief time she was with us, Hope Marie Ward certainly left footprints on the lives on quite a number of people. I pray that her memory will indeed stay with us forever.

Every time we look at your sister Rebecca May, we will have a living reminder of your beauty and we will see your reflection shining through in your identical twin sister. There will always be a special place in our hearts for you. We love you Hope Marie and we commend you to God's arms this day but we also vow that we will never forget you. We will always hold on to Hope!

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