Monday, December 12, 2005

We revisited St. Vincent's Hospital yesterday. A special service was held for all parents and families who have lost children at St. V's. I confess, I did not look forward to this service. I knew it would not be an easy one. However, it was a necessary one.

Gathering in a crowded chapel with parents who have walked our road, was not a festive occassion. The pain of loss was evident in the reverence throughout the room. Tear stained faces were worn by many as memories of each child were displayed in the recesses of each mind.

Each family was given the opportunity to share about their child. Each was asked to share the one symbol which would forever etch in their memories, what their child was about. No parent seemed to struggle to come up with a symbol, but to openly talk about it was another story.

As each childs name was called, the family would stand, and one member would stop by a candle box, and select a white candle, proceed to the front, light their candle, and place a star with the childs name written on it, before the candle. That was the easy part. Turning to face this fraternity for which you never pledged was most difficult.

The candle box was nearing empty, and our turn had not come. Finally, chaplain and friend Julie, who was conducting the service (most beautifully), looked to us and said most familiarly, "and BJ." Every other childs first and last name were given, but as Julie was clearly remembering the six week journey, and how well we got to know one another, all pretense was shed.

I selected his candle (at Deanna's request) and headed to the front. As I arrived, Julie whispered to me, "and the last shall be first." Any hope of composure I had was now lost. I struggled to gain a breath. She stepped over, and put her arm around me.

Staring at the floor, and searching for my voice, I waited. The deafening sound of sniffles were heard throughout the room. Every parent knew what I was feeling. For the first time since it happened, I knew I was surrounded by others who knew the loss of a child, and the memories of each were relevant.

I began, "BJ passed away 2 months ago. He returned from Peru, where he spent the last two summers serving as a missionary, with an infectious disease, which claimed his life. The symbol with which we will always remember BJ, is his sword, which was his Bible. He used it to share the love of Christ with anyone who would listen."

The service was precious but painful. Julie did a remarkable job of reflecting the love and compassion of Christ throughout the service. I know there were lost people present, and I pray that the Lord will touch them, and draw them near, this season.

Thank you Julie, and thank you Jennifer (our social worker who is still "at the plate batting for us"). We were very blessed to be able to share with you both afterwards.

Before we left, we made a trip to the "Angel Tree." A very tall Christmas tree in the lobby of the Childrens hospital. The tree was adorned with angels. Each bore the name of a child who had left his parents and family behind. After searching for what seemed like forever, I grew impatient, climbed the white picket fence which surrounded the tree...intended to keep people out... and began touching and turning every angel until at last, there at eye level, right beside a lifesize toy soldier, which stood in front, guarding the tree, hung his angel. "BJ Higgins," a true soldier for Christ. He stood guard for his Lord and Savior, went on the offensive with his sword drawn, defeated the enemy at many turns, and saw countless, untold numbers come to Jesus, because he was faithful... "I will stop playing all defense in this war. I will unsheathe my sword. It's time to raise a revolution!" (BJ Higgins)


dad

41 Comments:

At 8:19 AM, Blogger Lattany said...

I was going to write about the candle-lighting, this morning, not knowing whether you had participated in the occasion -- imagine my surprise when I found your post to be about the same thing!

Last night, I, too, lit a candle in memory of the many children we know who have lost their lives, this year. My nephew was born with half a heart in July 2005, and it has been a long and trying road, as he endured five open-heart surgeries and two other surgeries, significant time on ECMO, months on a ventilator, months in the hospital and countless other procedures all before he was even one year old (he is now home and well, for the time being). And it is this same path that so many dear families we know have walked -- but the horrible truth is that too many of them stand on this side of the surgeries and hospital stays without their dear children. With Corbin's birth, we were thrust into a "club" of which we didn't want to be a part. I, particularly, struggled with the loss of so many children who's families we came to know and love.

Last night, as I lit that candle and thought of the wave of light that would spread through the world over the next twenty-four hours, BJ came to mind. A candle, a light in the darkness -- what a fitting symbol.

With love in the God of all peace,
Lattany
Fairfax, VA, USA

 
At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continue to remember your family, and lift you up during this time---may BJ's memory warm your hearts, and the comfort of Christ keep you there in the sweet spot. He was a light, but you also are keeping it from being extenguished. You are keeping the legacy alive! Be encouraged, as you encourage others....thank you so much for continuing to share your heart through this site...this site is a light amongst the darkness of the internet, that's for sure.....thank you, thank you...

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger the leaf family said...

I can only say that we have just found our new tradition for our family.. We will light a candle for each loved one that we lost this year (8) and pray for their families and that God will use us to Glorify him with each memory...
Brent and Deanna Thank You so much for sharing and for Loving our Lord in such a big way.. I will be praying for you and the girls everyday.. For strength, peace, comfort, rest and that you countinue to Glorify him.. Thank You for sharing your soldier with us..
With all our Love and Prayers From KC-Tracy

 
At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Painful but very, very powerful!! Thank You for sharing.

Praying you through the pain.

Lynne in GRay, GA.

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger Melissa said...

Ok, I'm bawling. I had so wanted to go to the memorial service yesterday, but my own son begged me to spend the day playing with him. He said, "But mom, I miss you." How could I say no. So I spent my day at the Children's Museum, enjoying every laugh, every smile, and every hug. Treasuring each and every one, because we know how quickly all of that can be taken away from us. I did it in honor of your family, who I know with all my heart would have supported my decision to miss the memorial. What you would have given for one more hug, smile, and laugh. How could I turn it down?

Please know that you are still in my thoughts and prayers daily. I think of the children we've lost at work daily and pray that there won't be a need for that angel tree soon. But I also took joy in knowing that BJ was up there, leading the little ones around, showing them the glory of Heaven!! Oh what a sight that must be! God bless you all!

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger Sheila said...

We too just had a memorial service for my Aunt Carol and the other people who had passed away this year. Aunt Carol passed away just a few weeks after BJ, form cancer. It was one of the hardest things to go through. Everyone was crying, for some they had just lost their love one, others it had been almost a year. One of the songs played was called "If you could see me now" It was written by someone at the memorial. It was the most beautiful song I've heard. What are they doing now...they are whole again, free from pain, worshipping the King of Kings! I bought ornaments for my family this year that say, " Don't shed a tear, I'm spending Christmas with Jesus this year" If we could really get our minds (& hearts) around that message, we could "enjoy" the holiday season so much more. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. Praying for you in Troy, Illinois

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger *kim said...

Oh, family. My heart breaks for you and the grief and struggle and pain you must endure daily. Praying for you all the harder. Much love *kim

 
At 10:30 AM, Anonymous On Our Knees... said...

"and the last shall be first"

Praise you Lord for Your touch in everything...for another faithful support in Julie for the Higgins Family.

Glory to You for another opportunity You gave the war-torn Higgins family to stand for Your glory.

Praise You for the strength You gave them to AGAIN stand during their sorrow an loss.

Lord, continue to wrap Your gracious, loving arms around them today and the tomorrows to come...show them Yourself in those small ways that they alone know are specific to them...things You only know.

We love them so - because You love us so.

 
At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Cedarburg Tina said...

It is so precious to have moments of remembrance and honoring and yet so painful. Please know that you all continue to be in our prayers, especially during this time of year. Precious Lord, I pray this day that you will help ease the emptiness and sorrow in the Higgins' hearts as they long to hold their dear BJ again. May your peace and comfort surround themn through others this day and somehow may a memory bring a momentary smile upon their faces as they recall a special moment of joy they all shared. Help them to feel your loving arms wrapped around them, holding them tight and warming their hearts. In your precious name, Amen.

 
At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Words cannot express how I feel after reading your post. I am filled with sadness.

The tradition of lighting a candle for every family member who has gone to be with Jesus will be our new family tradition. I will include a candle for BJ.

I love each and every one of you and will continue to pray for you and your family.

With much love

 
At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I sit here in tears reading this blog from the days I missed, I continually am found needing to go to the word of God and read it.

I read the word of God, but am confused more when I am done reading it.

 
At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A light in the darkness for countless . . . a true and faithful servant . . . a son taken much too soon . . . a brother now protecting his sisters from heaven . . . a friend that is so very missed here on earth . . .

BJ has truly touched lives that will forever be changed in a way that is more profound than you, his parents, may even realize. People that did not know Christ. Did not know the glory in living a life full of Christ. Did not know that it could be so personal and deep beyond measure. He gave (and gives) this gift of Life to more and more people daily.

"homesick" by mercyme just came on my stereo . . . wow . . . we are homesick for BJ . . .

 
At 12:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God bless you during this trying yet beautiful holiday season. I'm still praying in Oklahoma.

In Him,

Katie Kyle
Piedmont, OK

 
At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Higgins Family,
For you all to keep sharing your raw emotions is overwhelming and beautiful.
I check this site everyday as I was one who was on the prayer journey with you for BJ.

Thank you for continuing to blog and give our God the glory through your pain and suffering.

I have never met you and yet I share your story with so many people. Oh,how I wish I had known BJ and yet I feel like I do because of all your beautiful stories. The imagery you put into words is absolutely remarkable.
God bless your family during this holiday season as I know it will be tough on you all.

Praise be to God for his Son who he gave up so that we might all be saved. Thank you BJ for laying down your life in order to touch thousands and thousands of people.

Kimberley Poncin
Purcellville, Va

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger Lynn Andrews said...

I hope that you feel the love and prayers of each one of us as we leave our messages for you. While reading your post today, I could visualize the service and my heart aches and the tears flow for your pain and loss, and for that of all the other families there with you. You will never know how much your courage and ability to "paint" such touching pictures means to me. BJ and your famly continue to inspire me and come to mind when least expected. The Lord has surely started a "good work" in all of you.

Much love to you and this blog family during the season of our Savior's birth.

Lynn
Macon, GA

 
At 3:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The memories we were happy and joyous to make becomes almost piercing during the Christmas season, but always comforting that we have them. Thank you for sharing them with us. You are still in our daily prayers.

SuzAnne Keith

 
At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for continuing to share with us. Brent and Deanna, i cannot express in any way what this site has meant to me for the last several months. I lost my father about 2 years ago and we also attended a similar ceremony to remember him. It was a very moving experience.

I am so glad that even in BJ's death that he can continue to do his work. Everytime i visit this website i'm moved to tears. i have no idea how your son can have such a huge impact on me and so many others. Our God is awesome isn't he? I will never forget BJ, i wish i could have known him. I'm the youth director at my church, we have a small group, around 15. We presented our Christmas Play lastnite. I have never been so proud of my kids. They did an excellent job!

I think that BJ did an excellent job in the way that he lived his life, and the impact that he is still having on so many people. I can't explain the sorrow that i feel for you all not having BJ present with you during this time, i know it will be terribly hard. It still is for me after 2 years, and i know that we will also be rejoicing at the same time that we can be with them again someday. But there is still hurt. I just wanted you all to know that what you are doing here is a great thing and I appreciate you and your work. We love you and will be praying for you during this season, and throught the year.

Have a great Christmas season!

 
At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Still Grieving said...

Thank you for continuing to share with us. The life of your son challenges me. I believe the Lord reminded me of this site so that I could be encouraged today. My husband and I are in our 20's and his mom passed away 7 months ago. Her birthday is Friday...and Christmas is just around the corner. She loved Christmas and being with us. I am having a terrible time with it. Feelings of sadness resurface, and I don't really have anyone to talk to. The ICU staff sent a letter to us titled "My First Christmas With Jesus." It is comforting to know that she is with the Lord...but our pain is still so real. Sorry for unloading here, I mainly wanted to just say thank you. I appreciate your strength and encouragement each day as you write. The Lord has used you to bless me today. God bless you and your family this Christmas as we celebrate Jesus!

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger Ashley Reagan said...

Wow! Thank you so much for sharing that. I know that must have been hard, but what a witness! I think about you all everyday and pray for you a lot. May you find joy through your pain, and may Peace guide you this Christmas Season. I love you family! :)

Ashley Dawn

 
At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Brittany Di Salvo said...

I'm moved to tears by this post more than any other. Thank you for sharing.. I am praying for you all the harder.
Today I had the opportunity to share BJ's story with a few other people. They were moved, and obviously amazed at who he was. I can only hope that they will see God in all of this and choose to glorify Him..
Thank you again for sharing. I love you all so much.

 
At 4:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I continue to thank God for your willingness to share out of the depth of your hearts and souls. May God bless you and the words that you shared yesterday.

In His Love,
Lori Burkert

 
At 4:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems I am in tears every time I read this blog. Thank you for touching my life through sharing such personal things and for keeping BJ's light shining bright! You guys are an amazing family--how I wish I could meet you all and that I could have met BJ!
--Sarah
Norman, OK

 
At 5:30 PM, Anonymous kristin dutt said...

wow. it seems to be the only word i have right now. we have just been talking in my Bible class at school about being homesick.. and how our perception of life can change w/where we view our home to be. I am homesick. I long to walk w/my Lord and to give BJ the hugest hug ever. again.. wow. thank you for sharing that w/us..

i love you alot. i hope you know that.. and i hope i tell you all that enough!

~kristin

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger Praying in Pink said...

Speechless again.
Praying still.

with tender love,

Marti and all the Piepers
Charleston, SC

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger princzofkok said...

Sorry that I have not commented recently but know that you are daily in my prayers and that I miss you all very much. I can't even begin to imagine all that you are currently going through but know that as I watched my newborn cousin in the hospital room I silently prayed to myself that I can be half the parent that you are to have raised such a man as BJ. Thank you so much for the example.

 
At 8:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Higgins,

We continue to lift ya'll in our prayers. I am in awe of ya'lls strength and courage. I cry at the thought of what ya'll have to endure everyday. Just please know that we think and pray for ya'll often. I have to go so I can stop crying.

Oh.. I am 6 wks pregnant and had to be taken of my heart meds because it causes birth defects, so after yrs of taking it, I went of cold turkey last Monday and my resting heart beat has shot up to 99 bpm and all the way to 114 at times. So, if you don't mind, would you please pray for us.

Little back ground:
I have been praying for the past year that if the Lord wanted me to have more children that he would change my heart, well, my heart changed this fall. Well.. although a month earlier than we planned, God had it planned. Before I took the test I prayed, Lord, if this is in your will I will be happy, if not I will understand. So, I am trying to keep that mind set. Where ever he leads I'll go.
Thank you so much, for everything. Your family has done more for me than you'll ever know.

My love,
Because of HIM

Nicole Jones
Eagle River,AK

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger Barbara Ann said...

Oh my goodness...I sit here with tears in my eyes. Its so wierd to think of him being gone...
I am so grateful to our Father for allowing me to serve with BJ in Peru. Tonight I was printing off photos from Peru, and just got to thinking of the fun, great, deep times with BJ. Just looking at the photos gave me such a remembrance of my brother...

I look forward to spending time with you again. Making memories...

Thank you for sharing this with us. There is just something about lighting a candle, looking at an ornament with a name on it, to make it seem so real.

Praying, and loving you through this storm...

Barbara Ann

 
At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyday i read the site, and everyday i feel so humbled! i just have to look at everything god has giving me and i have to say thank you. as i was reading today, with tears rolling down my checks i just want you to know we have never met you have most deffintly changed my life. im praying for you everday.

 
At 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was painful to read, it must of been unbearable to live. I hurt for you, I pray for you. I am grateful for you.



Because of Grace,
Pat Davila

 
At 10:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a beautiful entry. I was reminded tonight that the Bible says for us to comfort others with the truth that our victorious Lord Jesus is coming to get us soon. He has spared us the fire and brimstone by the gift of His Son. Praise Him for that! I'm praying for you guys and because of God's awesome and infinate power I have no doubt that He will carry you all through this situation to bring Himself lots and lots of glory. The Bible says in Hebrews (I think) to "endure hardship as a good soldier of the Lord Jesus Christ." BJ wasn't the only soldier, I know that you guys are fighting for Christ and enduring in His name and for His glory. That's awesome! "Do not give up, for your work will be rewarded" (Joshua 1:9?). I know that at the throne of God, you will be rewarded. Until then, keep seeking Him and giving Him glory! Well done!
Loving you guys, Atlanta, GA

 
At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Leslie Harley said...

Dear Higgins Family,

Sammy and I will be at the hospital on Thursday for his weekly lab work, and I will make sure that I take Sammy to visit the tree and look for BJ's name.

I remember walking past the tree last year and reading many of the names. I was moved by the number of children represented on the tree last year, and I knew that it was only through the mercy of God that Sammy's name wasn't included on that tree. Just seeing that tree takes my breath away.

Last Thursday, Sammy visited the mall to see Santa, and we stopped at a restaurant in the mall to have lunch. Halfway into our lunch, I heard someone from the table behind me say, "Excuse me but is that Sam Harley?" It was three PICU nurses who were there having lunch together. We chatted about Sam and how he's been doing, and I mentioned that we knew BJ through your blog. It was obvious that they each felt a deep connection with BJ and your family. He touched a place in their hearts, and he will never be forgotten.

I continue to check the site often, and I am so inspired by all of you.

God bless,
Leslie Harley

 
At 12:04 AM, Blogger SonshineGiggles said...

WOW!!! What a powerful story!!! I have to admit I was in tears as I read this......I know I haven't commented before but I have been reading along ya'lls journey. It definatly has been inspiring to me! My mother reccommended this site to me back in early september to be one more person to pray for BJ. I have definatly been there with you guys! I am so inspired by your faith! Keep going...the journey is long and hard but you will definatly be rewarded later for your hard work! May God Bless you guys!!!!
Sincerly, SonShine

 
At 7:47 AM, Anonymous marissa Balog said...

Your family has gone through so much and you still seem to be held together. You are such an inspiration and I pray for you every day. Merry Christmas!

 
At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG! (Oh my gosh!) Thanks for being so transparent - for sharing - for allowing us to cry with you!!

 
At 5:27 PM, Anonymous Carol said...

Having lost our twins - stillborn - two years ago still makes my heart ache with pain and tears fill my eyes. I simply cannot imagine the pain you must feel losing BJ after having him for so many years of life. You are right about joining a fraternity you never wanted to join. Those of us who have lost children are in a unique fraternity that not everyone can understand. Know that we are all still praying for your family during these emotional days of remembrance - and thanksgiving - for BJ's life. Still praying in Arlington, TX

 
At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this post brought tears to my eyes. the only words that i can express are in the song homesick. it totally and completely tells exactly what i feel but cannot say. thanks fog keeping up the posts...they've been really inspiring these last few months! stay strong!
<3 your sister in Christ, sara

 
At 10:39 PM, Blogger Shawn T Lippert said...

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At 12:50 PM, Anonymous joel said...

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At 1:07 PM, Blogger Mr JaguarDriver said...

Hi yes I agree with your last coment, i'll be back to keep up with whats happening how to pray

 
At 9:16 PM, Blogger Mysticman said...

Greetings Pray for BJ it's rather cold here today, but summer is comming to our part of the world soon. I was looking for the latest most up to date information on pray to god and I landed on your page. Although this post is not an exact match I can see why I ended up here while looking for pray to god Great stuff thanks for the read.....now where did I put that surf board !

 
At 7:28 PM, Blogger superclosetnerd said...

I'm doing some research on my new candle website trying to get ideas on colors, themes, etc. Looks pretty good here and I'll keep the bookmark. candle making supply

 

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