Sunday, January 16, 2011

Happy Moments, Sad Moments

Dear friends,

Thanks for being part of our lives and part of Madeline’s life too. The past 24 hours have been surreal and confusing sometimes. Madeline has certainly left a big hole in our life and it will take some time for us to sort it out. I almost said fill it, but right now I don’t want to fill that hole, I just want to leave it alone and let it be Madeline. Part of us wants to move on and finish the grieving, part of us wants to relive the pain it as often as we can before that crisp memory of those final moments with our baby girl fade into a fuzzy memory of someone we once knew.

In the past 24 hours there have been some sad moments, and some really happy moments. If you’ll allow me to share these with you I’d be grateful. I’ve labeled them either happy or sad moments so you can feel free to skip down and read only the ones you want to:

Sad moment: Leaving the hospital for the last time knowing we wouldn’t be returning to see Madeline the next day. Saying goodbye to Sara (for now), she was Madeline’s first nurse at Children’s and her last. It was hard, but with the encouragement of those who came to be with us we made it.

Happy moment: We took the girls (Molly, Miranda, and Macy) out for ice cream to break the news to them. Lisa thought we’d better tell them in the van before going in to get ice cream. We got in the parking lot, unbuckled and Lisa started tearing up as she began to talk to them. “Girls, it’s been a very difficult day and..” The van door suddenly begins to slide open. “Close that door Miranda!” The van door closes, Lisa continues: “Madeline has been very sick and..” The van door opens again. “Miranda, close the door!” “But I thought we were gonna get ice cream!” “Just listen..Madeline was very sick and she went to be with God in heaven today.” Miranda waited patiently at the van door, Macy smiled and made a face. Molly got sad as she processed the information, “Does this mean we won’t get ice cream?”

Happy moment: After ice cream we drove silently to Linda’s house to drop the girls off. When we got to their neighborhood, the girls broke out in a spontaneous round of Joy To The World: “Joy to the World , the Lord is come!/Let earth receive her King/Let every heart prepare Him room/And Heaven and nature sing/And Heaven and nature sing/And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.” We didn’t know what to do so we joined in the singing. Praise God for our innocent little distracters.

Happy moment: As Molly got into bed last night, she said: “I wonder if Madeline’s gotten used to her wings yet.”

Sad moment: When I woke up this morning, I realized that we weren’t going to take 2 cars to church or bring the girls up to the hospital to visit Madeline after church as we have done so many times. I cried as I wondered what we would do with all the empty time that was always filled with being at Children’s Hospital taking care of Madeline.

Happy moment: My brother had to tell his boys about Madeline. Calvin, the oldest, was concerned and thought they should pray. Calvin prayed: “Dear God, please send Madeline back from heaven so she can play with me and I can pray with her.”

Sad moment: We checked the mail this morning on the way to church. Lisa was hoping for a bracelet she’d ordered from CHD, instead there was a package, a gift addressed to Madeline Grace Wiegel. Lisa cried as she opened the package, inside a beautiful outfit for Madeline and a note: “Lisa & Shanker, I actually mailed this package on December 7th but had the incorrect address. It came back to us on Jan 6th! I am now resending it to you – hope it works perfectly this time.”

Happy moment: Going to church to be with our Christian family. We cried, but were happy to be around those who loved us dearly and hugged us and encouraged us.

Happy moment: It was great to be praising and worshipping God in song this morning. As we sang Lisa leaned over and said she had a vision of God being happy with our worship to him and dancing around to our singing as he held Madeline in his arms.

Sad moment: Adam came up to do communion and could hardly keep it together. As he read from Luke 24, he shared the hard fact of what we must do when one dies, as those that were closest to Jesus went to his tomb to take care of his body. It made me think about Lisa and Sara taking care of Madeline’s body after she had left. We had an advantage however, because we already believe in heaven and knew where Madeline was. I wonder what kind of wreck those closest to Jesus were in as they went to care for his body.

Happy moment: The sermon. It began with the words I had written “It is finished” referring to Madeline’s life. It was a beautiful representation of the gospel of Jesus, and not a story of the defeat but of the victory that Jesus won on the cross when He claimed in a loud voice: “IT IS FINISHED!”. To have Madeline’s story so closely tied to the gospel in this sermon was moving for me. I will make it available as soon as it gets uploaded.

Sad moment: Driving away from church, not sure where to go, wondering what we’re gonna do next. How do you plan a funderal? How are we gonna celebrate Madeline’s life? How do I not let this thing that God and Madeline have started die, how does it keep going and growing to touch lives for Jesus.

Happy moment (Always end on a good note!): Getting an email from Danielle, of Dan and Danielle, who lost their son Aaron on the night of Madeline’s first cardiac surgery in the CICU. It was so heart touching to hear from them, to know they have been praying for us as we have prayed for them. Her words were touching and made us both cry, but in a happy way.

Shanker & Lisa.


  1. Thank you for sharing the surreal moments of early grief.
    My husband and I have recently been revisiting those days with a counselor. It still feels like we are watching a movie. It can be so hard to take in this truth as our own.

    You and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers as you enter a new phase of life - parenting an angel.

  2. You don't know me...I found you through Danielle's blog. I lost my son in April of 2010, and wanted you to know that my heart goes out to you and your family. You will all be in my prayers!!

  3. Praying for you as you step into the waters of grief. It is a painful journey which, if we allow it, draws us closer to Him and to heaven than we ever could have imagined. Praising God that my sweet Laynee Grace has another angel to play with.