Yesterday our sweet Andrea Sparkes – age 6 years died peacefully at home in the arms of those who loved her best. Words alone cannot express how very much Gary and Annette have cared for and loved their little girls and I am so proud of them for how they have managed these very harsh realities of life.

 

It is said that a headstone in Ireland reads, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.” I am certain that while we will all get through this hard time it is fair to saying healing the sense of loss will not be easy. I am equally certain of the fond memories that we have with Andrea; memories that will never be stolen. Whether it was watching Little Bear and waiting for the frog to announce that he sits on the lily pad all day saying “ooooom” which would be followed by big laughter from both Andrea and Becky  or if it was seeing how excited she would be about “Donalds” otherwise known as McDonalds. This morning I was praying and reflecting on their arrival to us six years ago. They were so small and Catherinanne and I were in awe at how beautiful they were. We still love to see the picture of her little hand against her Poppy’s big farming hand. We have the strong memories of  the emotion expressed by the crew of the HMCS St. John’s when they met Andrea and Becky on the cross-island run raising money for the Children’s Wish Foundation. And who can forget the great love for Shrek and Dora! Every memory is precious.

 

We just came back from Newfoundland and are so grateful that we had the time we had with “the girls.” Nothing can pay for those moments to tell them we were there and to kiss their little cheeks. Say a prayer today for this family and the challenges that we have yet to endure. By God’s grace we are seeing how much a little girl with all of her troubles can touch the hearts of so many people. Thank you for your love and care at this most difficult time.  "Give Rest O Christ to your Servants with your Saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing – but life everlasting."

 

Words do not make this better so I leave this now reminded of the words of Henri Nouwen;

 ANDREA 1andrea 3

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares”.

 

UPDATE – January 20, 2008

We spent good time today with family and friends at the visitation. In a word Andrea is beautiful. She looks like and angel. She is free from all sense of pain, suffering or hinderance of any kind. Gary and Annette are remarkable and Gary and Helen as ever present to their family as always. I am so praoud of them all. There is indeed sadness in this moment, yet there is a sense as well of great blessing and peace. To see Andrea is to see a little girl who is at rest. I have recieved many emails with thoughts and prayers and I thank you all on the behalf of our family.

 

I opened the bible in the visitation room today and flicked through the pages stopping with ease at the passage below.

Wisdom 4:7-8
But the righteous, though they die early, will be at rest.
For old age is not honoured for length of time,
or measured by number of years;

Indeed the little girl we see today has been a great joy to so many. Even in the midst of affliction she has lived up to her middle name – bringing so much JOY to her family. She is a righteous example of how God’s love is poured out is abundance among the weak and the vulnerable. I can say that right now we are all feeling vulnerable. If you listen, look and engage among this family today you will see the very quiet, unassuming and reassuring presence of The Divine. This is a hard journey, but it is one we make with God at our side. The funeral will be on Tuesday. Keep us all in your prayers. "Even at the grave we make our song – "Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!"