Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone


REMEMBERING MY LITTLE GIRL

Today is the sixteen’th anniversary of our daughter’s death, her graduation to heaven.  Carragh was nine years of age and had battled Leukemia for seven years. She would have been twenty-five years old.  Who knows what she may have become.  She could have fallen in love and married and become a mother.  She could have gone to university and developed a career. Or, like she so often mentioned, she could have gone to Bible College and become a missionary. We will never know what she could have become, and in the end it really is just speculation on our part.  Every parent dreams of their children growing up and having things better than they ever did. Every parent has hopes and dreams for their kids’ success and accomplishments in life.  You would not be human if you didn’t. But when suffering, sickness and disease afflict your life as a family, and in particular attacks a child at age two, if forces you as a parent to re-examine eternal questions about the goodness of God, the role of evil, sickness and disease in God’s plan and purposes, and the role of faith in how we deal with the heavy blows caused by such evil things as sickness, disease and death.  You would not be human if you did not question, or suffer anguish along this journey of self-discovery.

Carragh was initially diagnosed in December of 1986, at the end of my second last semester at Emmanuel Bible College.  The pediatrician thought Carragh had juvenile arthritis which has similar symptoms to Leukemia.  The prescribed treatment is Asperin.  The side effect of Asperin is that it affects the blood.  It was this very thing which affected her blood counts dramatically, which led to the discovery of Leukemia.  When I was told, I saw a coffin and Carragh as being dead.  In my mind Leukemia equaled death.

DO THE MATH

Cancer + an unspecified amount of time = death.

Even though I was a Christian, of the Pentecostal kind, and believed in divine healing, the track record of healing of cancer was not too good as far as I knew.  So the diagnosis was overwhelming for me.  I could not put a band aid on this and kiss the boo boo better for Carragh.  This was way bigger than what I could handle as a parent.

Over the years Carragh jumped through all the hoops that were in the medical system for the treatment for A.L.L. Leukemia.  She was on different protocols whenever she relapsed.  She relapsed three times, and when she stabilized the last time in 1992, we pulled her off the bone marrow transplant candidate list.  Carragh did not want to go on with anything more.  There were no guarantees in the treatments (there never are, and families get hoodwinked by percentiles that are promoted by the doctors), and she had seen many of her friends die brutal and painful deaths through failed bone marrow transplants.  She decided, that she wanted off treatments and she wanted to go naturopathic and put her trust in God for her health.

Carragh was resilient throughout her battle with cancer and endured everything from radiation to chemotherapy of the most heinous treatment protocols anyone could imagine.  She fought bravely through each skirmish and battle with the disease, at times overcoming, and finally succumbing four days before Christmas 1993.  Carragh believed God could heal her at any time, and there were many instances where God not only spared her life, but raised her up miraculously.  Over the years Carragh’s faith grew tremendously, and rubbed off and impacted Lori and I greatly in our understanding of the role of suffering in the life of a Christian.  Carragh demonstrated daily and moment by moment what it meant to live by faith, enjoying each day as a precious gift from God, and exhibiting care and concern for others that totally humbled and amazed us.  Here she was undergoing another round of chemo and radiation, and she would be concerned about someone else who was enduring their own battle.  But a humble heart does that in the middle of the storms of life.  They think of others and the trials and adversities they go through, ahead of their own difficulties.

There is not a day that goes by, where I do not think of her at some point during the day.  This morning I awoke thinking of her, and a few moments later Lori mentioned her by name.  Lori is writing her own blog post on Carragh right now too.  I am thankful when people mention Carragh by name, for it keeps her memory alive.  Over time there has been a lot of healing in our hearts, and yes, there are tears.  Tears are good.  It means you feel, and it means you are a human being capable of experiencing all kinds of emotions. It is good to feel and at times laugh or cry.  When I tell stories of Carragh, I laugh and I cry. Why wouldn’t I?  I am her father after all, and I miss her.

God has graced my life with three wonderful daughters.  I tell people I have three daughters, and I name them by their names, Carragh, Caitlin and Erinn. I am very proud of all three of them, for they are gifts from God that were given to Lori and I, to care for, educate and raise, and prepare for adulthood.  We were trusted by Him to be stewards of these wonderful girls.

Carragh loved Elvis Presley and his music and movies.  She got to meet J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quarter.  J.D. fell in love with her.  J.D. had lost his own wife to cancer when he met Carragh in September of 1993.  At that concert in Stratford, Ontario, Steve Warren sang, You’ll Never Walk Alone to Carragh.  She was the guest of honour at this concert and she was beaming that Steve was singing this awesome song to her.  Little did we know that by the month of November 1993 Carragh’s cancer would return for a fourth time, and would eventually claim her life on 21 December 1993.


YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE

When you walk through a storm hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark.
At the end of a storm is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never, ever walk alone.

Walk on, walk on with hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never, ever walk alone.

When we notified Graceland and J.D. Sumner that Carragh was dying, Graceland sent an Elvis CD collection to Carragh and a video tour of Graceland done by Priscilla.  Carragh loved to watch that video and she listened to Elvis 24/7.  On her last day on this planet, Carragh was listening to Elvis, the song being played when she lay dying was You’ll Never Walk Alone.  She exhaled her last breath when the last chords of that song were being played, and she shed a tear out of eye as she passed through that heavenly door entering the presence of Jesus at 11:55 am.

Carragh not only taught me how to die as a Christian, but she taught me how to live.

Amazingly, J.D. called us up the day of her funeral and cried with me on the phone.  We were invited to come to Memphis for Elvis’ Birthday in January 1994.  So we left for Memphis by car the day after Carragh’s funeral celebration.  We got there, and they had snow for the first time in years!  We got to meet J.D. and the Stamps again at the different events, as well as people from Graceland.  We were guests and were so blessed at the many functions we were a part of.

While in Memphis we were invited guest to the Elvis Concert at the Pyramid.  We were in the balcony enjoying this huge concert.  The place was packed.  It had this huge screen where Elvis was singing.  His voice was the only recorded track.  All the other vocals were by the actual singers, J.D. and the Stamps, and the Sweet Inspirations, and the orchestra was the original orchestra that played in that video concert.  It was amazing.  They had this stool with a single red rose on it and Elvis’ white cape.  In the video Elvis said, “Take it away J.D.” J.D. got up and they sang one song, and then he said, “We have friends here from Canada.  They lost their little daughter Carragh to cancer last week. Carragh loved Elvis.  This song is for you.” Again, Steve Warren got up and sang You’ll Never Walk Alone.  Well, I lost it.  I began to cry, and people all around me noticed and asked if this was our little girl.  They cried too.  It was all such a moving experience and it helped us in our grieving.  I will never forget what J.D. and the Stamps did for us, or what Elvis Presley Enterprises did for our family. It was truly remarkable. So today I remember them all and I thank God for them and their compassion.

As I think of J.D., I am so thankful to God for this man that was full of grace and compassion for Carragh and our family. J.D. died some years ago, leaving a rich and wonderful legacy of his life and music to countless thousands of people. I count myself truly blessed to have met him and known him. Here is one of his songs with the Stamps and it is truly a fitting song.

Carragh lived her life to the full.  She lived a complete life.  No, she did not die prematurely.  No one ever dies prematurely.  That is human understanding applied to pain and sorrow at the loss of life, which on one hand is understandable, but it is the furthest thing from the truth. In God’s economy and eternal purposes, there is no such thing as premature death.  For each person who has confessed Christ as Saviour and Lord, death is but a door one goes through at the end of their mission in earthly life.  God has a purpose for every life, and once that life has been lived out, then God calls that person home to be with Him.  Carragh’s mission was over at age nine.

For some it is ninety-nine, and for her it was just nine.  Short, filled with joy and with suffering, but lived to the full, to the glory of God. John Calvin said that the chief end of man was to love God and enjoy Him forever.  Carragh did that, in her short life, she bore witness of Christ to Jewish doctors and to anyone who was within earshot.  Even in getting blood work, or having a Lumbar spinal chemo treatment and she wanted me to pray, she would say, “Louder Dad… Louder!” Here I was in the Treatment Room at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, with a room full of medical staff, and I would be praying “In Jesus’ Name!” trying to bring comfort to my little girl.  It is both a humbling thing but it also emboldens you as a person to publicly call out to Jesus in the midst of pain.  It raised up my faith and my nerve to not be embarrassed about my faith.  Carragh rubbed off on people like that.

WALKING ON

So for sixteen years I have been walking on, remembering and thanking God for the blessing of having had Carragh in my life.  I have been able to walk on knowing that one day I shall see her again, and I shall see Jesus, and my father, and my father in law, and all those whom I love, who also knew Jesus as I know Jesus.  I have been able to express love and compassion to others who are in a place of grief and mourning, or a very hard place, to encourage them to find peace in God as I have found peace in Jesus Christ.  I offer the story of our journey through suffering, where in suffering we discovered the fullness of Christ and a deeper relationship with the Creator of the universe who never leaves or forsakes us in our suffering, but comes alongside with us as we journey through the pain, the hurt, the gnawing questions and the aches.

U2 has written a wonderful song, Walk On.  The lyrics are powerful and speak of circumstances of life and the need to press on and walk on.  I find comfort in both songs, You’ll Never Walk Alone, and Walk On.

WALK ON – U2

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage that you can bring…
And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all that you can’t leave behind

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it’s a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on…
Stay safe tonight

You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you’ve got they can’t deny it
Can’t sell it, or buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home… hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
Home… I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
That’s where the heart is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Leave it behind
You got to leave it behind
All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you feel
All this you can leave behind
All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you speak
All you dress-up
All that you scheme…

GOD’s WORD FOR YOU

1 Peter 5:
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Cast all your cares and anxieties on God for He will bring comfort and healing to you, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, be it a death in your family, a battle with a devastating disease, the loss of employment, problems with your spouse, difficulties with your children, or your own sense of loss, God is there for you. He is but a breath away from invading your life with His love, grace, peace and truth.

You may argue that how could I possibly still believe in a loving God, but I do. God is sovereign. He is the author and perfector of life and He gives life and He takes it away. In life and while I have breath I call out to God to heal and to restore. King David had a son with Bathsheba that was dying. David ended up interceding until the child died. Upon the death of the child David ceased from lamenting and crying out to God, washed up, and had food prepared and ate. Then he declared that one day he would see his child again. This is what I have chosen to do.

Carragh is more alive than I could ever possibly dream of being. She has no pain and she is celebrating life with her Creator. One day I will join her. This is the Christian hope, our resurrection through Christ. Death is but a doorway into everlasting life with Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:

The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

MY DECLARATION

Today, I choose to Walk On, in love, grace, peace and truth. I choose to be an instrument of the peace of Christ in the lives of people. I choose to release the Kingdom of God in the lives of people. I choose to walk on and pray for people to be healed and restored. God is sovereign and He still heals and restores. After all, this is what Carragh would want, that I pray for others as I prayed for her.

God bless you,
Sam

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About Sam Buick

A lover and disciple of Jesus Christ. Married to my best friend, Lori-Anne. Father to 3 incredible daughters, Carragh, Caitlin and Erinn, and sons-in-law Alex, and Stephen Davis. An avid reader, a Droid user, a Mac addict, a lover of footy ball and football (there is a difference), and hockey. Once a soldier. Once a youth worker. Once an ordained minister. Once a claims adjuster. Once a charismatic, now a pacifist. A disciple of Christ, Gospel of grace proclaimer, pursuing union with Christ. There is only one way to God, and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus unites, dogma divides.
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2 Responses to Walk On – You’ll Never Walk Alone

  1. Lori Buick says:

    Thanks Sam, you did an amazing tribute to remembering Carragh. I still remember the day we invited Randy Bart, the President of the Elvis Presley Fan club which Carragh was a member of, to come for a visit to our home. After Carragh died, we were invited to spend a weekend with Mavis Brown who was the President of World Elvis Presley Fan Club. Carragh met her in Stratford when she was the guest of honor. We went to Mavis's home in Michigan and spent the weekend looking at all her Elvis collections from around the world.

    The day of Carragh's funeral, JD Sumner from the Stamps, called our home to say how sorry he was to hear that our precious Carragh had passed away. At JD's death, Mavis sent us all the informaiton and the order of service from his funeral.

    God was and is so involved in every detail of our lives. He wants to comfort us, heal us and restore us. We must look for Him in the midst of our pain and suffering, for He is there, eagerly waiting to embrace us. His heart is full of compassion towards us. Don't be deceived any longer by the schemes and plans of the evil one who is out to destroy us. The enemy of out soul, will have us blame God instead of seeing his evilness behind the scenes. Look to Jesus, our deliverer, and He WILL deliver you,

    Like

    • samthemacman says:

      Thank you Lori. So many awesome memories flooding my soul today. Man God has so blessed us. He is such a comfort. Just think one day, we, you and I, we will get to hold her in our arms again, love her and embrace her and bless her, and weep for joy at what Jesus has done for us, reuniting us all together with Him. Wow… incredible.

      Like

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