Sunday, June 15, 2008

No Parent Should Ever Have To Bury Their Child

I've been meaning to write about this for awhile now. Since the 21st of May, to be exact. Problem was, I just didn't really know where to start. How does one start talking about these things? Do I jump straight into the bad stuff? Do I take a third party stand and make it sound like any normal announcement? Should I start with a song? His song perhaps? What? What do I write? What can I say that can possibly make this horrific news seem any less... well, horrific?

But think long and hard as I may, I came up with nothing. I didn't know what to say. I still don't. But I'm going to try. So bear with me as I do. Thanks.


We'll never understand what it's like to lose a child until we've experienced it. (Not that we want to, of course.) You see, it's nothing like losing a parent. Or a grandparent. Or even a spouse for that matter. Why?

Because of this simple reason:
The order of generations.

You see, someone once told me that the death of a child is more painful than any other death a person can be made to experience in their lifetime. Why? Because of the generational order of death. You see, when a grandparent or a parent dies, you kinda know they'll 'go' before you will. So even if they didn't die of natural causes, it'd still be in the natural order of things. It's painful, yes. But it's really not that odd to have to bury somebody older than you are. If not today, maybe tomorrow. Maybe in 10 years. Or 50. But you know it'll happen eventually because that's the way it's meant to be.

And if a spouse dies before you do, it'd be real tough to bounce back from, sure – no thanks to all that flesh-of-my-flesh-bone-of-my-bones talk. But then again, let's not deny that both of you always knew it's be one of you going first. You just didn't know who till the time came. And once it happened, it's just too bad you were the one left behind to pick up the pieces. Perhaps you'd be lost for awhile. Even depressed. But life has to go on. And, depending on your age and/or preference, you'll soon either find yourself (1) in the dating game again, (2) enjoying life as a solo grandparent, or (3) on the deathbed and steadily on your way to joining your other half.

But if you're unfortunate enough to have your own son or daughter die before you do, the generational order of things is reversed. It's messed up. It's wrong. And this 'wrong-ness' is what brings more pain than any other death.

That being said, today, I write to convey my deepest condolences to the Chapman family who lost their 5-year-old baby girl Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman slightly over 3 weeks ago – on the 21st of May 2008. (Belated but never too late.) They lost her to a terrible accident. Her brother Will Franklin Chapman backed their family SUV into her, right in the driveway of their home in Nashville, Tennessee. Little Maria was LifeFlighted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital where she later passed on.

Maria was born on May 13th 2003, to be exact.

Just hours before the freak accident, the family gathered together to celebrate the engagement of their oldest daughter, Emily Elizabeth Chapman to Tanner (I can't remember his last name). They then headed home and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Stevenson Chapman's graduation from high school. Instead of doing so, they ended up preparing to bury Maria Sue Chapman who, less than 10 days ago, celebrated her 5th birthday.

It astounds me how happiness and sadness manage to come together so seamlessly on that tragic day. Yet between those very seams, the Chapman's worlds collide, crash and crumble from the pain of losing the youngest (and from the looks of it, the most animated) member of their family. After all, the loss of a child is a parent's worst nightmare.

Do keep the Chapmans in prayer. The family consists of: -

FATHER: Steven Curtis Chapman, who is a contemporary Christian musician with more than 20 albums to date (16 studio albums, 2 Christmas albums, several collections of greatest hits, and a live album). As of last year, he had already sold more than 10 million albums and has bagged 9 gold and platinum albums. He also has 5 Grammy awards under his belt along with 51 Gospel Music Association Awards – more than any other artist in history. This impressive record also includes 45 #1 Christian radio hits. (Oh, and this superb singer and I also share the same birthdate, by the way. *smiles*) Oh, and click here to read Steven's video blog. He's a really funny man who's also an awesome daddy.

MOTHER: Mary Beth Chapman. (She shared the same last name as her husband prior to their marriage. How fortunate.)

BIOLOGICAL CHILDREN: Emily Elizabeth Chapman (engaged to Tanner), Caleb Stevenson Chapman and Will Franklin Chapman.

ADOPTED CHILDREN: Shaohannah Hope Yan Chapman, Stevey Joy Ru Chapman and Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman (deceased) – three totally adorable young girls from China.

Do pray for them if you can. Whenever you see a child. Or an SUV. Or when you hear a Steven Curtis Chapman song on the radio. Or see his name on your playlist. Or on Wednesdays. Or on the 21st of every month. Just... whenever. And especially remember keep their son Will Franklin Chapman in prayer. I can't begin to imagine the guilt and pain he's feeling right now.

Also, today will be Steven Curtis Chapman's first Father's Day without Maria, since her adoption. It's going to be really hard on him so do kick in the extra gear and pray extra hard for him, too. Thanks, guys.

Now, I leave you with this song Steven Curtis Chapman himself wrote for a family who went through the same thing he's going through now... 10 whole years ago. This same song was sung at Maria's funeral by his good friend and fellow Christian contemporary artist, Geoff Moore. I hope it touches you as much as it did me.

Artist: Steven Curtis Chapman
Song Title: With Hope

This is not at all how we thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you, we had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile

And nothing we can say, and nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but

We can cry with hope
We can say 'goodbye' with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

And never have I known anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more the wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tears
I see the Father's smile and say 'well done'

And I imagine you where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home and now you're free, and

We can cry with hope
We can say 'goodbye' with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so

We can cry with hope
We can say 'goodbye' with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
There's a place by God's grace
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again

So we can cry with hope
And say 'goodbye' with hope
We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope

This post is dedicated to the little girl who showed me spunk.
Even if it's just me watching her... through a YouTube video.

Maria and Steven in Dishwashin' Daddy.
(Source: Steven Curtis Chapman's video blog.)

Steven, Mary Beth and their three adopted girls from China.
Maria's the tiny one who's squeezed right in the middle.

The Chapmans, biological children and adopted ones altogether.
If you can't tell by now, Maria's the one sitting on daddy's lap.

The one and only Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman.

If you've been touched by what you've read,
do make a donation to Shaohannah's Hope.


Pages you may wish to visit if this post struck a chord in you: -
  • In Memory of Maria: A special blog set up for people to share their condolences.
  • House Mix a.k.a Jim's Blog: The person responsible for Steven's day-to-day management. The one who's talking and updating the world with the Chapman's progress while Steven's video blog remains silent.
  • Maria's Memorial Service: A post in Jim's blog with a detailed firsthand account of what took place during Maria's 2-hour funeral service.
  • Steven Curtis Chapman's Video Blog: A good place to see the real man behind the many awards and albums. You'll also find a good number of Maria being videoed in her element here.
  • Shaohannah's Hope: An organization established to care for orphans by engaging the church and helping Christian families reduce the financial barriers to adoption, that was founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and Mary Beth Chapman.
  • Remembering Maria: A page where you'll find all you need to know about Maria. Includes pictures and a slideshow of the memorial service, among other things.

* All pictures were sourced from Shaohannah's Hope site and from Remembering Maria's photo section.


sheon said...

the circle of life. true.....

maria is such a cute kid! but god has better plans for her i guess....

Adrian Lim said...

Life is fragile and we will never know when it is our turn to return to the Lord....Inspite of many uncertainties, we know that we are in the CREATOR's hands...

My condolences to the Chapman's family....In JESUS we Trust!

pamsong said...

ATTN: sheon
– Painful circle that is whenever it reaches the end. Sigh. Plus, it's sad how the good folk always end up getting it bad. =(

I read somewhere where someone said, "This little girl must have done something very right in the 5 years she was around for God to say that she's completed her work here on earth so soon."

ATTN: Adrian Lim
– Yes. In God we trust.

Aronil said...

that is really sad.. my condolences to the family and may his daughter be happier now.. with The Father Almighty..

pamsong said...

ATTN: Aronil
– You and me both, babe. Keep the family (especially the son) in prayer kays?

Nigelais said...

So sad la. My condolences to them. At times like these, let us be reminded that:

And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the GOOD of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

pamsong said...

ATTN: Nigelais
– Amen.

Jesse said...

Something like this just happened to someone very very close to me. Reading your blog and the title of this post hits the nail right on the spot.

pamsong said...

ATTN: Jesse
– Oh my. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend/family. I pray that God shows Himself true in this time. It won't be easy but... nothing like this ever is.

Jesse said...

Hard as it is for me, it's even worse for her family to lose her when her future is ahead of her. She's my cousin by the way.

Sorry to steal the limelight from your topic. I was disturbed when I heard the news last night while driving home. I don't know how I stumbled upon your blog. *shrugs*

Stranger things have happened.

pamsong said...

ATTN: Jesse
– How old was your cousin? I understand that regardless of her age, no parent should ever have to bury their child. Am just curious.

And there's no limelight to steal here. =) We're on the same topic. And even if we were not, it's not a big issue. My comment pages usually run out of topic anyways. =p At least you're still running in the same direction.

And yes. Stranger things have happened. I wish I could do something to help you through this time. To help you see the light again. I think your cousin's death hit you pretty hard, too. It made you question YOUR life. Am I right?

Jesse said...

Light? I dunno Pam. Darkness seems to be looming around me, casting a megatonne of debris that overshadows the worst of a nuclear fallout. You try to look at the bright side of things, till one day it just hits you:

What bright side?

It is very kind of you to offer to help. However, I'd rather not chronicle her demise in public. I hope you understand. If you still would like to lend an ear and there's a way we can communicate in private, do let me know. By the way, she's 26 this year.

Earlier tonight, I received news of yet another passing in the family. That's two, in a week. ONE BLOODY WEEK. How does one deal with this? I've no idea. People say bad things come in threes so I can't help but wonder what next? Who's biting the dust next?

Stranger things have happened indeed. said...

You can also find more info about Maria Sue Chapman at:


pamsong said...

ATTN: Jesse
– Hey Jesse,

I'm so sorry for taking so long to respond to your email. Just found the time to catch up on some of my pending comments. Gotta reply almost 100 comments and I'm just at the tip of the iceberg. Bleh.

I hope you're feeling better now. I hope that Time has done it's bit to ease the pain and the confusion.

You can always email me at if you need to talk or rant in private. I'll be there as much as I am here. And yes, we're both the same people. =)

– Ooo. Thanks, Jeff. Saw Maria's flower on the page and felt a stab in my heart. I hope that the family's doing better now.

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