Angels Names Association
October 8, 2016 Memorial Service Speech
My name is Dean Brown and I serve as Lead Pastor of Vantage Pointe Church in Queensbury, NY. I also serve 39 Wesleyan Churches in Eastern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island as District Secretary. I am, too, Chaplain for the Corinth Fire Department. While all of this might seem to provide fodder for a handsome resume, behind all of the titles and uniforms is a human being whose life has been touched, as has yours, by too-soon separation from a child.
His name was Jonathan David. His young mother eagerly anticipated his arrival to her world. She sang to him the songs of Zion, rocked him to rest as often as she could, and whispered to him her silly stories that surely made him grin in utero. Like every mother who caresses the child of her love, she knew he would make her so happy one day and his face touching hers would make the world seem a much safer place for them both.
But one morning pangs of dread wrapped around her heart like a tangled fishnet upon the tail of a restless sea mammal and she knew her body was being dragged under a merciless wave of rejection and nothing she could do, or pray, or wish could stop the insistent trajectory of loss that was tearing her baby boy from her frame.
She would have parroted the words of John Green’s, Will Grayson, Will Grayson, where it was said, “I'm so proud of you that it makes me proud of me. I hope you know that.”
But now certain pride turned its back on her and hope took the last train to a faraway place where she could neither go nor leave at will. Her womb and her will were emptied and what remained would need to be carried silently, secretively, surreptitiously, almost covertly because she knew, like those she’d observed before, that no one would understand and ignorant souls would toll to her, “Come on. Move on. There’s nothing to be done now.”
I met this woman on a -19-degree day in January, the day John F. Kennedy was inaugurated President of these United States. She heard his clarion call: “Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.” And turned the phrase - by affirming: “Ask not what your family can do for you-ask what you can do for your family” and she did it. And she committed. And she sacrificed everything to be certain that had Jonathan David lived, he would have been proud to call her, “Momma”.
How did I know this woman? She was my maternal grandmother. And I, I took the place of Jonathan, and received the warmth of her embrace, and learned the songs of Zion, and grinned at her silly stories and felt the heat of her face against mine and knew more than once that the world was a safer place because she was in it with me.
I leave with you her hopeful determinations so as not to let HIS life be swept away. And may they be for you instructive and encouraging:
- · Nan could not forget her boy, JD, and never let us forget him, either
- · Nan reserved a garden in her heart where she could slip away to be with him whenever the need arose
- · Nan carried on, had another child and invested in both her children – and their children – with a ferocity of love and care and faith that was staggering to behold, comforting to experience and transformative for generations to come
- · *Her loss became the world’s gain and the same can be true for you, too
Thank you, Nan, for showing us the way around the hurt by living through it. The first flower will be for you!