On May 21, 2008, Christian singer Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth lost their 5-year-old daughter in a tragic accident. Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman died after being accidentally run over by the couple’s son, Will Chapman, as he pulled into the family’s driveway. Now, 10 years later, Mary Beth has penned a powerful blog post about her difficulty in dealing with this horrific loss, and why she will always hate the month of May.
“Questions…there are still so many of the ‘what if’ and ‘why’ questions, but slowly they have turned into the ‘I wonder what’ and the ‘would she’ questions,” Chapman writes on her website.
“I hate May. I will never not hate May,” she adds. “That stupid, ill-timed, life-altering day in May when everything changed.”
Though it’s been nearly a full decade since little Maria passed, the Chapman family keeps her firmly in their hearts and minds, every minute of every day.
“The Chapmans, ten years later, still live with the reality that someone is not here,” Mary Beth writes. “It is in and on our minds with every breath we take. It is our reality, just like it is the reality for anyone who has lost someone that they love. It is a life-altering, mood shifting, mind-altering event that becomes the narrative for you.”
“We are literally in the battle of our lives every day, taking crazy thoughts captive and trying with all the strength we have to offer it to the only One who can lead the way around the racetrack that never ends. You see, we can’t move to another track. May is always in our path and it is always either in our rearview mirror or it’s out in the distance on the horizon coming for us.”
Mary Beth helpfully addresses some of the many cliches that are offered to those who are in a time of grief and pain. Too often, many of these platitudes seek to overlook and even belittle the depths of sorrow you might be experiencing. As Christians, the Chapmans fully understand that they will, one day, see their beautiful daughter again.
“Great, but I’m not with her now,” Mary Beth responds. And what about trying to love the ones who are still here? “Trying,” Mary Beth answers, “but yeah, we are all broken and moms try so hard, but it is just so broken a lot of the time and we make it worse somehow.”
But Chapman also highlights some incredible ways in which the Lord has been working in their family, despite the devastation of that horrendous May day.
“Good news! The Chapmans are still together and still a family,” she wrote. “By God’s grace, this journey of losing Maria has without a doubt made us a family that knows what is important and knows that we are for each other and not against, and that we absolutely have each other’s backs.”
“With all of the honesty and all of the hard, I know that down in the core, that Jesus abides and is with us.”
In March,Steven Curtis Chapman spoke of the continued heartache and healing his family is still journeying through.
“For the first two or three, it felt like a blur, and it’s not like we’re over anything or out of it or through it,” he told The Daily Times.
“You keep walking through it, and you come to the realization that we’re going to carry this ache and this sadness and this brokenness all the way through life. But there’s new joy, too, and things you never could have imagined — like laughter and celebration and things like that, that do begin to come into your life, especially in our case with grandbabies and new life and new chapters of our story.”
However, despite the heartbreakingly sad story becoming a central part of their family life, Chapman says he is encouraged when people respond to their openness about their personal tragedy.
“So much of what has kept blowing wind in our sails, so to speak, is the encouragement of people who say, ‘Your story has given me strength to keep going.’ To be able to write and sing these songs and walk through that dark place has been an amazing blessing, because it echoes a lot of the encouragement that we receive from people, and it’s one of the reasons why it was so important to share my story,” he said.
“For me, as I often say, on our journey, we were broken. We lost our daughter, and that was an unthinkable tragedy on so many levels. We’re still, and always will on this side of heaven, dealing with the brokenness of that. But my theme of remembering — the hope, what is good, what is beautiful — is what’s carrying me.”
(H/T: The Daily Times)