The house of mourning

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: This is a sad post about sad things. If you don’t feel like shouldering such, don’t read it.  Sometimes, with knowledge comes sadness. Just consider yourself warned.


Ecclesiastes 7 : It is better to go to the house of mourning
than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

I feel like I’ve been in the house of mourning more since July than I was for the last 5 years. And while I understand that people grow through trials, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and the house of mourning teaches lessons we could never learn in the house of mirth, I’d still rather not go there, if given the choice. Who chooses the dentist over Disney? No thanks. I’d much prefer the house of mirth. Sometimes there’s no choice in the matter.

On Sunday evening, September 9, a 6-year-old girl named Coleen Persell, departed rather suddenly and crossed over into eternity. The world we live in was radically changed. And though I have never met her, my world was changed, too. Why? Because people I love, loved her. Because I am no different from her mother. I have four children also. I live on a farm, too. My kids are around dangerous equipment; things that when they work perfectly, aren’t so dangerous. But when they don’t, well…sometimes tragedy strikes in the worst way.  I worry about this every day of my life.

So when I was told that this precious girl had claimed her crown far earlier than anyone wanted, I cried. And I prayed. And I’ve cried and prayed since…many times. Not an hour has gone by that I don’t think of it. And who am I? Nobody.  So for those in her life daily– her parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, cousins, aunts and uncles, teachers, and adorers, this is very, very, VERY hard.

I have thought about my own kids so much this week. When they have awakened in the middle of the night with a bad dream or a cramping leg, I have been glad to see them—no matter the hour. When I wrenched my back getting out of bed to put one of them back in bed  (yeah, I know…if The Signs of Being Pathetic were an interesting blog post, this detail would make the cut), I didn’t complain. I thought back to my little family before Surprise #4 arrived. We were happy. We felt complete enough. But when a child is born, you form a new quadrant of your heart just for that one child. It’s a part of you that wasn’t there before. And they pump your life full of pictures and I love yous and leg cramps and tellmeastories and funny expressions and speech impediments and explanations about Lady Liberty that warm you to your very core. And from that point, you can never go back. Because that quadrant of your heart is born and now full. And if that child leaves you early, that part of your heart cannot go back to feeling the way you did before. It’s there now. You can’t teach it to feel less.

I’m posting a link to Coleen’s voice as she draws a picture and explains the Statue of Liberty.

I learned quite a lot from listening to her:

(1)    She is precious. No doubt about that. Like specially, preciously precious.

(2)    People who are gone are never really gone. It sounds cliché and maybe even a bit trite, but it’s true. Coleen was very much in my kitchen as I watched that and read all about her. That piece of you that forms when that child is born is still full of that child. And there are pieces everywhere that keep that child from ever really being gone.

(3)    The Statue of Liberty “stands for freedom.” This made me chuckle. She drove the point home in a voice too cute for Lady Liberty. Yes, it stands for freedom.

(4)    The One she likes the most, the most, the most…is God. Wow.

In this life, it’s hard to be free. There is pain and suffering and debt and worry and guilt and every other thing in between. Lots of things “stand for freedom,” but rarely do we ever feel free. However, freedom does exist.  Coleen understood a lot about freedom last year when she wrote about the statue of liberty. As much as we would all wish her back for some liberty lessons in our living rooms, I am utterly convinced that she knows everything about freedom now. She loves God the most, the most, the most. And she’s with Jesus now.

It doesn’t get any freer than that.

3 thoughts on “The house of mourning

  1. Beautifully said Missy. I can only imagine how much pain her family is living through having lost this beautiful and precious child; but we know she will forever stay beautiful and precious in the arms of Jesus and in their memories. I pray God grants them peace as they wait to see her again.

  2. what a tragedy! if we could only feel the positives in all this, then we would be far better off. but little colleen is spared so much by leaving this life early. she is spared disappointments, growing old and getting frail, pain, illness, and so many other things. she is also spared losing a child in this tragic way. and she is safe in the arms of Jesus, where she will only know joy and peace. i have prayed and prayed for this family and it is especially close because i know some of her family. may the God we serve bless them all!

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