When my plane landed one of my best friends, Tim called me right away. I had sent him a text right before my plane lifted off to DC. Tim called to tell me about an organization called, “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.” He told started to tell me what it was, and I had to cut him off. This is the same organization my dad told me about that I turned down. Tim was the second person to talk to me and the second person to mention this organization.
Tim’s advice was simple: Pictures of your dead child might sound morbid, but you can throw them out and never have to look at them. But you can’t turn back the clock and long for something that isn’t there. This way, you can always have an image of your child, even if you have a hard time looking at them.
He was right. I called my dad immediately and asked if the photographers would still be willing to come out. They were.
The whole drive home I struggled with names. Pam and I had chosen Benjamin Edward for a boy, and Mary Jane for a girl. But the reality was, our child is now dead. Those names were names we choose because we LOVED those names and what they stood for to us. We wanted to call our children those names their whole lives.
I came up with two names that I would suggest to Pam:
Stephen is the first man to die because of his love for Jesus. He stood up for what he believed and told people what he believed to be true about salvation and who God is. Right before Stephen dies he looks into heaven and sees Jesus. As I drove tears fell all over me as I thought about my child, maybe a boy, who saw Jesus as he was dying in my wife’s womb.
Here are Stephen’s last words:
54When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, 58dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Each U2 album closes with a benediction of sorts. The benediction on “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” is a song called “Grace.” It’s more than beautiful. It’s a hymn.
Death is more than ugly. It’s so ugly that it doesn’t really have a proper name. My hope was that if my child was a little girl, that this girl could somehow give me the strength to see that Grace could raise beauty out of death for me. Maybe even though my daughter was dead, maybe she could still help change the world.
Grace, it’s the name for a girl
It’s also a thought that changed the world
And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness in everything
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings
Because Grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things