I am no expert on sorrow, although I’ve lived long enough to know that none of us is exempt. There are no detours wide enough to navigate your way around suffering. No bank account big enough to buffer those you love. No life untouched by loss.
But I’ve also learned that one of the surest ways to heal a shattered heart is to reach out to someone else whose heart has also been shattered. That is one reason why I was so touched this week to hear from Amy Wallace, a mom from Delaware, Ohio, whose 17-year-old daughter, Hannah, died last spring after a life complicated by cerebral palsy and other underlying health challenges.
Knowing that I’d lost my daughter Ruth, who also had cerebral palsy, at a young age, Amy reached out to share about her curly, red-haired daughter with a big laugh, who loved going to school and to church and taking walks outside in her wheelchair.
“Hannah taught us how to love unconditionally and how to live a meaningful life even through adversity,” Amy and her husband, Jeff, shared on a web page about Hannah, who was the second oldest of their six children. “She taught us how to see and live life with a different perspective. She also taught us to lean on Jesus during difficult days and praise him in the mundane. She taught us that those with special needs are truly special indeed.”
In December of 2020, the same month that Hannah began receiving hospice care, the Wallace family followed God’s nudge to support children in Nepal, one of the world’s least developed countries, through Child Development Nepal.
“He knew our hearts would need healing and joy,” Amy wrote. “He knew that giving and serving helped bring us that joy we so desperately needed.”
November 30th would have Hannah’s 18th birthday. To share their love for Hannah and their gratefulness to God for his gift of eternal life through Jesus, the Wallace family is raising money to fund a community Christmas celebration through Child Development Nepal’s six children’s learning centers.
Hannah “is in her forever home, where she is healed, thriving, singing and dancing on streets of gold,” Amy wrote, “No more suffering, no more illness. No more pain and brokenness. Our desire is for everyone to be able to have the opportunity to experience that gift as well.”
Imagining a place where there is no more suffering, no more illness, may seem like a fairytale. Sometimes I have a hard time believing it myself. Yet, that is the hope that Jesus offers to all who put their trust in him. “The wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God…” Paul wrote in I Corinthians 2:7-9 (NLT), “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
It is the mystery that Hannah and Ruth are enjoying now. It is the mystery that God promises to all who are suffering. And it is the mystery that Wallace family hopes to share. To find out more, please visit: https://www.childdevelopmentnepal.org/hannah
Meadow Rue Merrill, author of the memoir, Redeeming Ruth, writes from a little house in the big woods of Midcoast Maine. She is also the author of the fall-themed children’s picture book The Lantern Hill Light Parade and four other books celebrating the holidays with activities that build children’s faith. Connect at www.meadowrue.com