Man-day Post: Charlie

In Man-day, Parenting by Jensguy12 Comments

This is Charlie.

She is our grand niece. She was born with Down Syndrome. Her parents were aware of this before Charlie was born and chose to continue on. They are young and have their whole lives ahead of them, but against the grain of most who face this particular decision they brought her into the world and loved her.

She was also loved by everyone else who came in contact with her, including friends, family, and random passers-by at the grocery store. Her Grandmother, my sister, would gush about how precious she was, and how life would have been incomplete without her. Rather than being a chore, she brought joy.

Last week, I attended her funeral. At four months old, she passed away unexpectedly, but gently in her sleep. It’s hard to distill the feelings one has into words even with time to reflect, and writing emotionally is very difficult for me. On one hand it is every parent’s worst nightmare to lose a child. On the other, her family felt joyful that they were at least able to spend some time with her on Earth, short as it was and the joy they all felt together is stronger than the pain.

This song, by Martina McBride, was shared at the ceremony:

You can spend your whole life buildin’
Somethin’ from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
love ’em anyway

You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yeah, sing it anyway
I sing, I dream, I love

There are many lessons that we can learn from Charlie and her family, but this is my lesson, “Take the time to love.” Obviously it may sound trite, but I want to love deeply, even when there is no hope, to do it laboriously, even if it is not noticed or reciprocated, and to do it personally, even when it is easy to assume that someone else will take care of it. All of those things have been difficult for me in the past, and it is a change that I need to make. The choice Charlie’s parents made was tremendously heroic and it should be recognized as such, and although it may appear that they were rewarded with tragedy, they would have made the same choice and lived the same way again without regrets. And what more could anybody in this life wish for?

I am extremely proud of them and pray that the next generation is lucky enough to be blessed with such people as these, and that the world find the time for more Charlies.

Charlie’s Memorial and Funeral Fund



  1. Jen, I am literally bawling over here and seriously so very sorry for your family’s loss. I truly can’t make sense of stuff like this and all I can say is my heart aches seeing that sweet little face above and knowing that she is no longer with you all. Hugs and checking out the fund in her name now.
    Janine Huldie recently posted…3rd #glossybirthday + Harper’s Bazaar GLOSSYBOXMy Profile

  2. What a precious little angel the family has waiting for them now. I love that song! I hope your family is finding comfort and peace during this hard time, and can feel their little one near them. Your words really were beautiful.
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  3. A beautiful and sobering post. Charlie looks like an absolute doll and I have no doubt touched a lot of lives in her short time in this world. Charlies parents had no way of knowing that she would pass away so young, but I bet if they had to do it all again they would, heart ache and all.

    The song by Martina McBride has a powerful message that we should all take note of. Life never has guarantees, but we should do things regardless of this. We should always do the things that we think are right for us and we should always do the things we enjoy, regardless of the fact that things may not always go to plan.

    What we mustn’t forget is that children like Charlie have a lot to offer the rest of us and that the world would be an emptier place without them.

    My heart goes out to Charlies parents and all of the family. No family should ever suffer the loss of a child.

    Big hugs.
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  4. She was gorgeous. And I am just so sorry. There are absolutely no words for a tragic loss like this one. Charlie will be forever missed by those who loved her and a legacy to those who got to hear her story.-Ashley
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