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A Father's Arms

Aimee Copeland and her father Andy are on a difficult journey. Some insight from one that's traveled a similar path. Here's hoping their journey has a different destination.

He sits there, holding her in his arms, looking over every inch of her face, and he wonders: "How did we get here?"

He runs his hand gently along her cheek, just hoping she will respond. He holds her hand, a hand that seems to frail and tiny inside his, and he asks himself: "What will life be like without her?"

The clock ticks and every move of the second hand sounds like an explosion to his ears. Each passing moment the tension rises, the questions mount, the emotions threaten to consume him to the point of losing all sanity. And he stares at his little girl, lying there in that hospital room, and he thinks: "I don't know if I can go on after this."

He thinks long and hard on issues that usually don't get thought of much: what he truly believes about life and death, what his heart says about the hereafter, whether or not God can exist if this can happen to his little girl. He stares at her face as he faces his inner demons, and he finds hope in the slightest things: her eye lashes; the way her nose turns up at the end; the shape of her ears; the overall vision of beauty and innocence that her face projects.

Other people move about him, offering help, offering hope, offering prayers. He leaves her side only begrudgingly, only at the behest of others, and even then he leaves only to appease those folks who have his best interests at heart. He knows that they need their time to grieve in her presence. He knows that they need to make their peace with her situation and find comfort in the act. So he leaves. But only for a few moments. Only for so long.

Because in the end, she is his daughter.

When the room is quiet in the middle of the night, when the nurses have backed out of the room for a moment and left him and his girl alone, he cries for the future that has been lost. What once might have been now will never be, and as he thinks about the relative ease with which his own life has transpired, he weeps at the fact that her road was far more difficult. He curses the disparity. He screams at the universe that denied her justice. He shakes an angry and heartbroken fist at the sky.

The doctors tell him how sorry they are. The offer condolences more than hope. They try to explain something that is impossible to put into words. The best they can do is attempt to explain the "how" of the situation, but in doing so they only serve to heap injustice upon injustice because "how" is not the question of the day. The "how" of science is not soothing to the soul.

It's the "why", the cosmic, universal, inexplicable "why" that matters. And doctors cannot answer that.

Even preachers can't.

Eventually, he will tell his daughter everything that is in his heart, everything that he can think to say in that moment, and he will find himself exhausted. Spent.

Empty.

And being empty, he will do the only thing left to do: take her in his arms one last time, lean over her and kiss her head and beg her forgiveness for not being able to take her place. Not being able to protect her the way he feels, as her father, he should have.

He will ask for that forgiveness and get silence in return. And then he will face the fact that life, all life, will be forever changed.

I wrote this about two men: Andy Copeland and myself.

I hope, for Andy's sake, that the ending with his daughter holds more hope. For him, and for Aimee.

My prayers continue for them both.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Sharon Swanepoel May 10, 2012 at 02:38 PM
WARNING - major tissue alert. Thank you Jason.
Jason Brooks May 10, 2012 at 02:43 PM
As always, Sharon, thanks for the forum. My prayers are with this family. Hopefully, the news will continue to be good.
Jana Anthoine at Buck Jones Nursery May 10, 2012 at 02:49 PM
This is absolutely beautiful. As a mother who has held her son as he took his last breaths, this hits home so much right now.
Jason Brooks May 10, 2012 at 03:02 PM
Thanks, Jana, and I'm sorry for your loss.
Eileen Waring May 10, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I think the entire community has taken this family into their hearts and we all pray for them. They are our family now. I cannot imagine the pain this family is experiencing. I think "A Fathers Arms" says it all. From the depths of my heart I pray for you all and will continue to keep you in my prayers. Let us hope this young, beautiful girl will recover.
Stephanie Gross May 10, 2012 at 03:12 PM
I'm sorry for both your losses and my heart goes out to every parent faced with such a grief. Jason, thank you for your willingness to open up and share your life in this way. I'm sure it'll be therapeutic for many.
Jason Brooks May 10, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Thanks, Stephanie. I've found that the most amazing gift my daughter gave me was the ability to connect with other parents who are experiencing grief and pain. It's not a gift I would have chosen, but it's one that I'm grateful for.
Jason Brooks May 10, 2012 at 03:29 PM
Thanks, Eileen. I agree: let's hope Aimee's story is one of hope and victory.
Carroll Wills May 10, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Coming from a mom who has lost a son, your story hits home and I am sad to say that it hits home for far too many parents. The pain is endless but as you said Jason, our pain is not in vain if we can be an inspiration and encouragement to those who go through it after us. My prayers go out to you, to Aimee's parents and to all who continue to live with that hole in their heart that the loss of their child created. May God bless us all as He gives us strength and courage to live with hope and joy in remembering the good days we had with our "gifts from Him".
Jason Brooks May 10, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Thanks, Carroll.
Beth May 10, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Beautiful!!!
Diane May 11, 2012 at 01:52 PM
That was astoundingly beautiful. Reaching out to someone else in their pain and grief as only one who has been there can. May God bless and keep you and the Copelands. Praying for you all.
Jason Brooks May 11, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Thank you, Beth.
Jason Brooks May 11, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Thanks, Diane. Here's hoping that Aimee continues to improve.
catherine dubuque May 14, 2012 at 12:07 PM
My prayers are with you and your family with hopes for recovery of body and spirit.
Jason Brooks May 15, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Catherine - Thanks. My family has had years to cope with our loss, but even today I got a phone call about a friend who lost her baby. Mercifully, Aimee Copeland seems to be doing better (or, as much as she can be given the circumstances), so hopefully the Copeland family will never have to know that pain.
Brian Crawford May 15, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Thanks for sharing that Jason, you always have the right words. I've been praying for Aimee and her family.
Jason Brooks May 15, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Thanks for the comment Brian. And please, keep the prayers coming for Aimee, Andy and the entire Copeland family.

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