I had the privilege of sitting with my family while Tom Steller and Sam Crabtree ministered to us at the funeral of Felicity Margaret Piper who was stillborn at full term on September 22, 2007. Her father Abraham asked me to speak for five minutes on “A Granddaddy’s Thoughts.” Here is what I said.
I didn’t know Felicity Margaret. My experience of her life was entirely through other people for nine months. And my experience of her death, even though it was physically immediate and touchable, has been emotionally experienced almost entirely through other people.
So at this moment, what it means for me to be Felicity’s grandfather is that I am living this loss almost entirely through other people’s experience of this loss. And because of my love for all these people, there is a powerful sweetness in this pain.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have tasted her loss through my daughters-in-law, her aunts Shelly, Melissa, and Lesley. The measure of her worth and the greatness of her loss have been written on your faces, and they are the more beautiful for it.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss in the shattered expectation of her aunt Talitha, my daughter. It was not easy to go to school on Monday. But you and Mommy made a good plan with the school counselor to inform the teachers and students. And now, in a way you never expected, your heart is knit together with Dasia whose little brother Zach was killed by the dog a month ago.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss through her uncles and my sons Karsten, Benjamin, and Barnabas. I broke the news to each of you and watched all your plans change. You are good brothers to each other. And I cannot tell you how much I love the tears and embraces of strong men.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt her loss through her grandmother, my wife Noël. Strange and wonderful. Your tears came slowly and have increased. Mine came quickly and have decreased. Almost the story of our lives. Thank you for knitting Felicity’s blanket, and weeping as you decided to give it to her anyway.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her mother, my daughter-in-law Molly. For her entire life she depended on you more than anyone. You fed her, you cleansed her, you supported her, you protected her, you knew her better than anyone. The grace that God has given you to love her greatly and let her go is amazing. Christ is on display in your life.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her father, my son Abraham. The words from Saturday morning’s phone call are cut into my heart, “Daddy, we lost the baby.” Nothing, Abraham, has gone deeper inside of me than your loss.
Being Felicity’s grandfather means that I have felt the loss through her great grandfather, my father Bill Piper. And this experience is totally different from all the others. In this case, the loss is all gain. My father died six months and sixteen days before Felicity did. I believe the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ covers the sins of all who trust him and all who are not old enough to trust him here but will trust him later.
Therefore, I believe Felicity and her great grandfather met each other early Sunday morning in the presence of Christ. And my father said, perhaps, “Hello, Felicity. I’m your great grandfather Piper. Come, there is somebody I want you to meet. His name is Jesus. He’s the reason you’re here. You don’t need to be afraid. Your Savior has led you all the way. And Jesus does all things well.”