RETURN TO STARTING LINE!"
~by grieving daddy, Tommy Prince
Occasionally on this blog, we've talked about the phenomenon of how, at times, in this experience of Child-Loss, it's like starting all over again in our deep grief...
It's been 5 1/2 years since we lost our 19-year-old only daughter. This past Sunday, we went to our older son Rollin's (and his wife Stephanie's) baby girl's dedication, our first little grand-daughter's baby dedication. The baby's dedication was held at the same church where we had my mother's funeral when I was 14 years old, and we had my daughter Merry Katherine's funeral when I was 54 years old. Now 5 1/2 years later, I return to the same church for my new (and only) grand-baby's dedication...
Other than attending our son Rollin's wedding ceremony there 3 1/2 years ago, this was the first time we had been back to the church since Merry Katherine's funeral, and the follow-up Christmas memorial that same year. Other than those times, we had not been back to church.
Leading up to this event, it had been a struggle for us to determine whether this was an event we could even take in. We had to seriously ask ourselves, were we up to it? Angie spent a few hours crying the night before the event, just listening to music and allowing herself to prepare for sitting back in the same church sanctuary, hearing the heart-touching music, and being surrounded by the same loving people who had loved and discipled our precious children through their high school and some of their college years. Prayerfully, we were able to go, and were so thankful we could be there for Rollin, for Stephanie, and for baby "Ellie."
Sunday came, and we went. I was doing fine enjoying the service, and then the baby dedication started. I was doing okay with Rollin and Stephanie going up front, holding baby Ellie, even with seeing Merry Katherine's white-lacy-baby-dedication-blanket held up close to Ellie... But suddenly, a young lady walked up to the microphone at the pulpit and shared that today we are celebrating the dedication of Merry Elizabeth Prince, who is the namesake of Merry Katherine Prince, while at the same time I glanced at the large screen back behind the pulpit (see picture above), and there on the big wide screen, in huge letters stands out "M-E-R-R-Y," my now deceased child's name, as a part of Merry Elizabeth Prince, and neither of these had I been expecting...
The impact of the shock of seeing her name sent me over the edge. It was already hard enough hearing someone else say she was Merry Katherine's namesake (I knew that, but to hear someone else say this stopped me in my tracks, and I felt a shock -- like being body-slammed emotionally to where I could barely maintain my composure -- Then, when I saw her name, the tears started trickling down my face, just like they are right now....
So, it was like starting all over with the emotional pain, like returning to the starting line of grief, as painful as it was 5 1/2 years ago.
It wasn't like I was doing anything wrong to get disqualified from the proverbial race, yet it's like an internal P. A. system blaring out,
"CHILD-LOSS GRIEVER, RETURN TO STARTING LINE!"
when I was just wanting to attend my grand-baby's dedication, and now I am totally undone!
Fortunately when people came up to speak after the service, I felt loved on, and it helped to ease the emotional devastation I was feeling.
Little do people know, it can be 5 1/2 years later but you can feel like you're going all the way back to the starting line of grief. So much for the so-called "Stages of Grief," unless of course there's a stage sort of like the child's game of "Chutes and Ladders" where you drop back down through the chute, all the way back to
Stage One: Start All Over!