I have read a lot my whole life. Books have, from early on, been a source of knowledge, companionship, adventure, and wisdom for me. And so too in this part of my journey I have been helped along by the words of others who have walked similar paths of grief and sorrow, all in their own unique journeys, unique stories to tell. I hope to be able to share some of those that have helped me the most here as a resource for others who may be looking for these kinds of resources.
I recently read Mary Beth Chapman’s autobiography, Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope.
I think I picked it up after seeing it mentioned on another baby loss mom’s blog. While Mary Beth, wife of Grammy award winning artist Steven Curtis Chapman, tells the story of the tragic loss of their five year old daughter, Maria, in 2008, the book is about more than just the accident that led to Maria’s death (she was hit by the car driven by her oldest brother, Will, in the driveway of their home). I knew of the accident and remembered when it happened. At first I didn’t want to pick up the book and enter into another mother’s grief, a grief that I guessed was even deeper than my own. But Mary Beth writes, with both authenticity and with humor, of her story from the time she met Steven Curtis, through beginning their family and his career, her struggles with clinical depression, and their family’s journey to adopt three little girls from China, one of whom was Maria.
While I was never a huge Steven Curtis Chapman music fan, I have been listening to his album Beauty Will Rise recently as many of the lyrics are interwoven in the book. Steven wrote this album following Maria’s death and the lyrics are so deep, full of pain and hope. One of the themes of both Steven’s music and Mary Beth’s book is learning to SEE and listen for the ways in which God is working in our lives to redeem what looks like it can never be redeemed, those dark places where only God can bring healing.
Another storyline that has stayed with me is Mary Beth’s honesty about her struggle to let God write her story as He chooses to. As time and time again, her life took turn after turn that was not what she had planned or wanted she has learned to let go, to trust in God’s working in her life and her family’s life. It’s not easy and she doesn’t pretend like it ever gets easier or that she has it figured out. And yet Mary Beth shares over and over again how God has shown her that He is moving, bringing forth beauty from the ashes.
My favorite song on Steven’s Beauty Will Rise album is “Heaven is The Face“. I’ll leave you with the lyrics and an encouragement to go read Mary Beth’s book because wherever you are in your journey, I think you’ll be encouraged by her words.
Heaven is the face of a little girl
With dark brown eyes
That disappear when she smiles
Heaven is the place
Where she calls my name
Says, “Daddy, please come play with me for a while”
God, I know, it’s all of this and so much more
But God, You know, that this is what I’m aching for
God, You know, I just can’t SEE beyond the door
So right now
Heaven is the sound of her breathing deep
Lying on my chest, falling fast asleep while I sing
And Heaven is the weight of her in my arms
Being there to keep her safe from harm while she dreams
And God, I know, it’s all of this and so much more
But God, You know, that this is what I’m longing for
And God, You know, I just can’t SEE beyond the door
Heaven is a sweet, maple syrup kiss
And a thousand other little things I miss with her gone
Heaven is the place where she takes my hand
And leads me to You
And we both run into Your arms
Oh God, I know, it’s so much more than I can dream
It’s far beyond anything I can conceive
So God, You know, I’m trusting You until I SEE
Heaven in the face of my little girl