FAITH NEWS SERVICE – “God woke me this morning and told me, ‘If you don’t do anything else for me today, phone Barb and tell her it’s time to start the book!’”
The phone call was unexpected and direct. Barb Ireland was pleased to hear from her pastor friend. Any connection in this time of nationwide Covid-19 lockdown was welcome, but she did not see her words coming.
Barb needed to write the story of how her precious daughter, Laura Grace, aged three, died suddenly and tragically one October morning in 2003.
“A book had been in my heart for years” Barb says. “There was a story to tell, even for my family alone–to help them understand, support them in hard times, and give them a chance to look through adult eyes at what happened to us all 20 years ago. I was willing to write it for them. I just hadn’t got around to it.”
“But with the phone call, I felt the prod.”
Daddy Will Carry Me is the heartbreaking, yet inspiring story of the faith Paul and Barb Ireland had to be able to continue on after losing their precious daughter. Laura died tragically in an accident on the family farm early on the day of October 14th, 2003.
Laura was Barb and Paul’s third child, arriving in their family when her siblings were ages 8 and 10. She was a treasured daughter and sister. Laura loved the farm and enjoyed trips out in the ute with Paul. She enjoyed helping to look after the animals. Laura was great fun and very social. Despite the age gap, she was very much a part of her older brother and sister’s worlds, and they let her boss them around endlessly. She also loved playing with their old Labrador, Lucy. She loved drawing and painting on whatever surface she found available and she was Barb’s constant companion.
Naturally, her death rocked the family to its core, also testing their faith in God as they tried to navigate a future without their beautiful daughter.
“Immediately after the accident, Paul and I were surrounded by family, friends and community,” Barb stated. “I cannot imagine how we would have gotten through without their love and practical support. In the early days, it was a blur of arrangements, visitors, and many, many tears and hugs. We were wrapped in arms of love and carried through.
Once the funeral was over, we faced the challenge of learning to live without Laura and doing the work of grief. We got through this, despite the fear that we never would. We learned to navigate each day, one step at a time.
“The year after Laura died, we leased out our farm to take time to heal. We took our children out of school and travelled, using this time to rest, process all that had happened and seek counsel. We were deliberate in facing pain and allowing each other grace to express this.
Piece by piece, we rebuilt our lives from the inside out. Losing our little girl forever changed us.”
Barb says that while many years have passed since Laura died, the sadness is still there. “I think it will always be a part of us,” Barb shared. “Through the process of grieving and with the fullness of time, we have learned that life can still be beautiful, even after such tragedy. At the time of the accident, I feared I would never find peace or hope again. These days I can experience my sadness while holding peace and hope in my heart.”
Barb says that faith has always been an important part of her and Paul’s lives, but everything was up for question when Laura died. She says she asked God why on many occasions. “I went through times of bitterness and self-pity,” Barb says, “but in all of my searching and questioning, I realised that I needed God now, more than ever. I saw that He had always been there providing for me. He is my healer. I rebuilt my faith on firmer foundations. Faith in God is Barb’s source of hope and peace, even after the tragic death of little Laura.
Barb says that while she had been thinking about writing their story for a long time, the call from her friend was the prompting she needed. There was a story to be told, not only for her family, but for the countless other people who endure tragedy.
“If you are grieving, then Daddy Will Carry Me is for you,” Barb says. “If you are asking why? this story is for you. If you are travelling with someone with a broken heart, this story is for you. I pray that as you read, I can hold the hope-light for you while you wait for yours to shine again. And I pray that you will know that you are held, carried in arms of Eternal Love, Peace and Strength.”
Daddy Will Carry Me is now available globally.