In The Midst is the podcast of the Joyful Like Maggie ministry. Beginning with the tragic and unexpected death of our 10 year old daughter, Maggie, we talk about how our Christian faith as parents and a family relates to grief, child loss, suffering, the difficulties of life, and carrying the cross in general.
Episode 1: Origins
In this inaugural episode, I talk about my solidarity with those in the midst of hardship and suffering. I know what it’s like to be in the midst of pain and hurt, affliction and suffering, fear and anxiety, despair and weakness; to go between no faith and little faith, to fall underneath the weight of the cross and be pushed into the ground by it. I know what it’s like to give up, tap out, throw in the towel, get up, walk out and slam the door. I know what it’s like to bury one’s 10 year old daughter.
In the midst of my darkest hour, I found myself hanging on a cross ready to die. I looked over and saw God crucified next to me. He said, “I know the ugliness of this broken creation, Frank, and I’ve come to make all things new. Follow me to the empty tomb, and there you will see all of the weapons of the evil one displayed as my trophies, testifying to my victory over sin, death and the devil.” In this moment I found hope.
The Passion of Maggie, Pt 1: The Sickness
In this episode I talk about the three weeks leading up to Maggie’s passing. During this time, my wife and five kids got sick. They all got better except Maggie. We took her to what would be her first ER visit, where she was examined and released in good condition. Only, Maggie wasn’t in good condition. She ended up missing her last First Holy Communion class and it began to look as though her lifelong preparation for Holy Communion was becoming something very different.
In the background, I’m working long hours, helping to lead a men’s ministry, taking Maggie to Holy Communion class on Mondays, leading our family in celebrating the saints’ feast days, and interceding for Maggie’s well-being.
Episode 3: The Passion of Maggie, Pt 2: "I will never surrender my faith!"
In this episode I narrate the beginning of Maggie’s death. She wakes up from a nap crying with a severe headache. My wife takes Maggie to a different hospital this time. On the way, Maggie blacks out and then, at the hospital, has a seizure. As I’m speeding to the hospital, I sense the darkness of the evil one and declare in the Holy Spirit, “I will never surrender my faith!”
I talk about why this happened to our daughter and why she couldn’t grow up and be a nun, or baker, or singer. Maggie was planted in the midst of a fallen creation to be the littlest flower and witness to supernatural goodness, beauty, truth and joy.
The Passion of Maggie, Pt 3: "Lord, I Need You"
In this episode I talk about how, as our daughter laid in her hospital bed, sedated and hooked up to machines and a tube in her mouth, my wife sings to her the chorus to Matt Maher’s “Lord, I need you.” In her last two weeks of life, Maggie would sing this chorus and even hum it to herself because she said it comforted her in her suffering.
I also talk about Maggie's life-saving surgery and the doctors' plan of action.
Maggie's death has been the greatest challenge to my fundamental belief in the real presence of God in the world and in my life. I've been painfully reminded that the reality of the Gospel does not remove the crucifixion; rather, it hangs on it with you.
I have to be born again - again. But how? What is it that will rebirth you in your darkest hour, in your brokenness?
Episode 5: The Passion of Maggie, Pt 4: "We are an Easter people"
In this episode, I talk about the wait after Maggie’s surgery. We wait in the eye of the storm as the doctors try throughout the night and twilight hours to get Maggie stabilized. It became clear that night that Maggie’s condition was far worse than we had realized.
Here, in the eye of the storm, Easter is alive. I say to my wife, “We are an Easter people. We rejoice differently, and we mourn differently.” In the twilight of the night, Maggie receives the Sacrament of Confirmation.
In the morning, the neurosurgeons tell me there is nothing that can be done to help Maggie. She is going to die. As our daughter prepares to leave us, she does so in the context of the greatest act of worship of God by His people – the Easter season.
Episode 6: The Passion of Maggie, Pt 5: "The devil has no power over us!"
Having received the news about our daughter's fate, I now have to go home and tell my wife and kids and everyone else. We go back to the hospital with family and friends to say good-bye to Maggie. Our daughter Nicaea declares that the devil has no power over us, which we demonstrate at the hospital when we gather around Maggie to praise God in the recitation of the Gloria in excelsis Deo.
Keeping it 100
The Walking Dead
Thank you for baring your soul and sharing your journey. I applaud you and encourage you to keep sharing. You are inspirational. Sending a big karmic hug to you and yours.
You’re not alone
Hearing someone who has seen and live through many things helps me to understand that I am not alone, that we are not alone. Living the everyday life you can become numb to the fact that there is also another someone somewhere also living and experiencing the same hard life as yourself, or even more so.