So as I mentioned in the previous post, Zach and I were in Alabama last weekend for a memorial service. Little Noah Crowe, age 4, passed away on May 18th after a courageous battle with brain cancer. (Is it just me, or does brain cancer seem to be surrounding our life right now?) If you'd like to know more about Noah's story, you can read about it at prayfornoah.com.
Anyways, Noah's family is actually quite special to ours. Many years back, when Zach's dad could no longer lead worship at Friendship UMC due to ALS, John David (Noah's dad) was hired to take his place. John David and Zach have kept in touch throughout the years and he's always been someone Zach respected and admired.
When John David called with the news of Noah's passing and to ask Zach to lead worship at his memorial, our hearts broke. This child was only 4 and he had been battling cancer for most his life. It seemed unfair and just... heart-breaking.
On Saturday when we arrived at the church and met JD and his wife Jessica, I honestly didn't know what to say. What do you say to a mom and dad who just lost their baby, their baby who has gone through unthinkable things in the last 2 1/2 years? Just saying "I'm sorry" seemed almost... insulting. "Sorry" doesn't even come close to describing how I felt about the situation or would be a word that would bring them any amount of peace or comfort. What I wish I could have said in those moments was what my heart was yelling.
"This royally sucks! I cannot imagine the pain your hearts must feel and the intensity of the grief that must wash over you every time you walk past his bedroom, see one of his toys lying on the floor, or even see snacks in the refrigerator he never got a chance to eat. I have no idea how you are standing here right now instead of lying in a heap in your bed, but I have the utmost respect for you and admire your strength. It is truly a testimony to your faith and reliance on God. I don't know why God let this happen the way it did, but I do know that he is somehow working for your good- and Noah's, through it all."
I had never been to a funeral or memorial service for a child before.
Oh Jesus, why?!
Noah's mom Jessica began the service and I must say... she's the (excuse me) ballsiest mom EVER. Wow. Words cannot express my deepest respect and admiration for this mother and her courage to speak about the unspeakable while giving God all the praise.
Zach and the band opened with 'Fix You' by Coldplay and a number of worship songs that Noah loved. After the Chaplain for Children's Hospital in Birmingham and the youth pastor from Friendship spoke, Noah's dad JD finished the service. His words were raw and heart-breaking as he recounted Noah's last, painful moments on earth and how he encouraged his tiny son to stop fighting and go be with Jesus. JD's description of Noah's suffering and his final conversation with his treasured son sort of haunt my mind. On one hand, it's overwhelmingly sad, but on the other, it's incredibly poetic and touching. I cannot imagine what it must be like to usher your child into the arms of Jesus, to be the one to encourage them to go where we cannot follow, to a place that is unknown by us, but filled with hope, peace, wholeness, and oneness with God.
JD, broken by grief and loss, was also so filled with hope and passion, a passion to encourage parents to love the their children HARD- every second of everyday and treasure every moment you have. He also challenged everyone to live like Noah, at 100%. Life might have been cut short for Noah, but none of us are promised tomorrow. We all need to live at 100%, making our life count and a true reflection of why we are here until we get to the ultimate place we are going.
Zach ended the service with "Oh Happy Day", Noah's favorite song. As the band played, bubbles (another thing Noah loved) poured down from the ceiling.
Please continue to pray for JD and Jessica as they are now in a new place full of fresh challenges and new obstacles. We love you guys and are humbled to call you friends.