: CHRIST, LIFE, FAITH : COMMUNITY : LIFE “It was like your worst nightmare,” says Greg. “But it was real. The night we lost Luke, she [Nicol] had put him to bed at nine o’clock. She found him around 10:15.” “I had actually gone into the room to take a shower,” adds Nicol. “That’s when I saw him. He was lifeless. His face was gray. That was the most horrifying moment of my life.” Immediately, Nicol and Greg began CPR. When the paramedics arrived, they did the same. At the emergency room, the doctors did everything they knew to do. “When the doctor finally said there was nothing more they could do,” Greg says, “the things you’ve heard about happening to other people… the nightmares… that became our reality. You’re faced with how absolutely helpless you are. Those two hours at the hospital, between the shock and tears and falling on our face praying for God to put life back into Luke’s body… and He didn’t answer the prayer.” “I was just sure that God would revive him,” says Nicol quietly. “When you think back to all the prayers God has answered that weren’t important at all… Surely God would answer this one. And He didn’t.” “It was such a profound moment,” adds Greg. “You think you have some say in this stuff and you just don’t.” In that moment—in the profundity of human fragility, helplessness and brevity—Nicol and Greg began their unexpected, unplanned, unwanted journey of grief. To hear them speak is, without question, heart- wrenching. To picture the loss they’ve suffered would take any parent’s breath away with a painful, caustic jerk. And then, to imagine how they will face yet another Christmas with one less stocking hung and one less It seems as though life should have a certain order of things. We’re born, we grow, fall in love, build our own family and eventually, say goodbye to the parents who built us into theirs. This order gives us a plan… a roadmap for the day to day. But sometimes, things get derailed. Without warning, some tragic decision or circumstance can turn the whole scheme on its side leaving you dangling, desperately searching for some semblance of order in the chaos. Mary knew a thing or two about these misplaced scenarios. God only knows what was running through her mind when she watched her son… the baby she carried, nursed, rocked and loved… nailed to one of the cruelest creations known to man. And then, before her very eyes, her son died. I imagine that during that first Christmas, she had no idea of the events that were coming. How could she foresee the horror, the cruelty, the unspeakable sadness of watching her baby slip away as she stood by helpless? We don’t often think of the cross and of loss at Christmas time. But to truly understand the value… magnitude of that first gift… we must comprehend the cost at which it was given. From His life, we learned how to live. From His death, we learned that life eternal was possible… and available to even the least of these. While no woman has been in Mary’s exact place, many—too many—have shared the sorrow of losing a child. Nicol Sponberg is one such woman. Two years ago, she and her husband Greg watched their baby slip away as they stood by helpless. The details are heartbreaking and enough to send chills of fear down any parent’s back. Nicol Sponberg reflects on her life, her loss and her faith By Caroline Lusk 10 CCM