Our children, no matter their age, will always remain our sweet and wonderful children
Parents always presume they will not outlive their children, especially in this modern age. Even a hundred years ago it was not uncommon for families to lose children not only at birth, but within the first five years of life. When Lori-Anne and I had our first child, I never dreamed that I would be among those to lose a child to a horrific disease like cancer. I never imagined the pain and sorrow of battling that disease for seven years and then losing my first born daughter Carragh.
Today is Carragh’s birth date
Today I remember my little girl. She is forever young and forever beautiful etched in my mind and in my heart and soul. She is as much a part of me now as she ever was when she graced my life when she was born back in 1984. As a parent, I have no regrets whatsoever of having had Carragh. The joy and life giving grace and love that came through her, and living life with her and her mother and her sisters, has made my life full and has given me the greatest joy and satisfaction. It is through having had Carragh, with the cancer and everything that comes with it, has made my life a truly blessed and wonderful life. I am indeed a very blessed man, and I am rich beyond measure because of Carragh, Caitlin and Erinn. My three beautiful daughters. They are forever young and forever beautiful
So today, I posted on Facebook, a note of remembrance and thanks for Carragh and her life and what she continues to mean to me.
I decided today, in Carragh’s memory to publish for the first time the letter I wrote to her when she died. It was read in public at her Celebration of Life (funeral) by my friend Bob Dekker. It was too emotional for me to read at the time. I find its words to ring even more true today as I remember Carragh and her impact on my life which is impacting me all the more with my own battle with cancer.
Letter to Carragh – December 21 1993
At this very instant you are the envy of everyone in this gathering. You are in the presence of Jesus. I cannot even begin to imagine your joy and the thrill of sitting at His feet. Now you can ask all those questions that I could never give you an answer for. You always were a deep thinker. You were the real theologian in the family. I may have the academic degree but you lived the experience of know God that continues to inspire me.
As your Dad I have always been proud of you. I was the first to hold you at your birth, after the doctor of course! You inspired me to have my best softball game the next night, when I hit a homerun, had two doubles and two triples! I never have come close to that since! I exposed you to baseball at an early age. By the time you were six months old you had your first baseball uniform, much to the chagrin of Mom. From the time you were a couple of months old to this past summer, you came and cheered for your Dad. You were the best fan in the world.
The last two years you were hard to live with. Your whole life you have loved the Blue Jays. You knew I despised them and yet you cheered for them. I remember when you met some of them at Sick Kids. You sure were proud of their autographs. You really enjoyed rubbing my nose in the dirt over the two World Series the Jays won. But, I guess I got one back when the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup over your Gretzky and the L.A. Kings. I will miss the times we would sit and enjoy a ball game.
You always had sharp eyes and insight. When all those “Bo knows” ads were on TV, you said to me once, “Bo may know all those things, but I know Jesus!” You certainly grabbed my attention with that comment.
You have had a profound impact on me Carragh. I remember when you got sick. You were so young. You were so brave. You lost your hair four times, each time more traumatic that the time before. I watched your courage. You were quiet but pain was etched on your brow, and when I would ask you if you were OK, you would say, “Fine, Dad… Just stay here and pray and hold my hand.” The treatments had their toll on you. The chemo, the pills, the needles, the IV’s, the radiation, the steroids… all compromised your body, but you fought on.
I remember when you were with Mom, you were listening to Mylon Lefever in the car. He was singing “Crack the Sky and you asked Mom what that meant. Mom told you that when Jesus comes back to earth for His followers, He will “crack” the sky and we will all rise into the clouds to meet Him. You began to cry. Mom asked you why, and you said that, “Mom, I can’t go… I have too many crafts to do, I have my friends and dancing, I’m just too busy.” You really taught us how important it is to be ready to be with Jesus. Even now, you are with Him and you are still teaching us to be ready.
Your insights have always amazed me. When we spoke about Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden and how sin came into the world, you remarked reflectively when you were five years old, “If sin did not come into the world, Jesus did not have to come and die for me and everyone else.” My heart almost stopped beating! You were well advanced in your theological studies!
I remember when you first saw the movie “The Mission,” you were impressed by the scene when the man climbs up the mountain with all the armour on his back and when he gets to the top he begins to laugh. Right away you said that he laughed because his sin was taken away. You really amazed me. This movie has always impacted you with a concern for missionaries. You had a desire to be a medical missionary born out of that movie.
This desire was heightened when you saw “Chariots of Fire.” You really loved Eric Liddell. You said that it would be easier to be a missionary, just as long as you did not have to run like he did! You were happy when I told you that you could take a car or walk!
Your exposure to treatments, doctors, nurses, and hospitals molded your thinking for a long time. You began to have compassion on other kids right away and you always knew which one needed you to help them. You always looked out for the hurting and misunderstood, because that was what you had experienced too. When others suffered and died, you silently bore the pain yourself, rarely sharing your fear or feelings. But, your feelings came out in what you did. You were so brave whether it was a finger prick, an IV, or a lumbar puncture. You coped well by playing doctor on everyone in the family, and as a result we all became expert chemo nurses ourselves! You really found comfort in role playing.
I regret that you had to endure so much pain, and that you had to find out that many of your friends had died. I remember during prayer time you would ask Jesus to take care of your friends. You genuinely cared for all of them.
You not only found therapy in role playing but in doing crafts, drawing and painting, and you sure knew how to it well. Grandpa Buick would have been proud of your artistic talents. You were a gifted reader and retained so much of what you read that you astounded me. You also could write as well. You were a good listener and could express yourself well. I had great aspirations for you. In my heart I always hoped for a lasting miracle. But, each moment of each day became a miracle… each moment a moment where God and His grace could be poured out in full measure for each need.
I remember the many miracles we experienced during your illness. God used your cancer to draw us closer to Himself and to transform our lives. You almost went to be with Jesus twice before and God raised you up miraculously. This time the greatest of miracles is that you are with Jesus. I am the one who is now in pain suffering and mourning your loss.
Unlike many Dads, I will not have the opportunity to chew out your first date, or deny you the keys to the family car, or be able to attend any of your graduations. I will never meet your husband or children. People will say that this is a terrible loss. No, in the mind of God was not to be. God in His wisdom chose to bless me with your life, to touch me and break me and mold me. Jesus used our adversity to make me, to make Mom and all of us become more like Himself. Without suffering and pain, there is no growth, no life. In you I learned to live in Jesus, living my life to the maximum. In you I have now learned how to die, for now for me to live is Christ and to die is gain. On day, we will be together again. There will be no sorrow or pain. We will have new bodies. You will be the perfect blond, and will be trim and handsome just the way you and Mom wanted me to be. I look forward to the day that I will behold you when we will worship Jesus forever. I love you Princess. My love is yours forever.
So, on this day, a day I always remember, a day that my body speaks to me and I know and I remember that today is a special day, so on this day, I honour and remember my beloved Carragh, who is forever in my heart, forever young, and forever beautiful. I will meet you again Carragh, on the other side of the Jordan. I love you.
Your wee Da [Samuel M. Buick]