Special Issue - Prayer

Prayer offers strength in face of nightmare

by Todd Habiger

GARDNER — Lynsey James’ place of prayer is a result of her worst nightmare.

On Feb. 6, 2013, her 16-month-old son Canon died. The day before, Canon had suffered a febrile seizure that sent him to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri.

“We were told that they were very common and, although frightening, not a big deal at all,” James said.

So, he was sent home.

Canon went to bed at 7:30 p.m. James and her husband checked on him at 8 and 9:30 p.m. When she went to give him his medicine at 11 p.m., she found him unresponsive.

James immediately started doing CPR. Paramedics arrived soon thereafter. They were able to get his heart beating again, but Canon had gone too long without oxygen.

He was gone.

The suddenness of things was difficult for James.

“That was one of the things that was the hardest,” James said. “To go from complete normalness to having everything completely destroyed in less than 24 hours.”

Dark times followed, as she tried to cope with her son’s death.

“I prayed for God to stop my heart — to take me,” she said. “I prayed for an accident so we could all just go to heaven.”

“I just prayed these things that were so desperate and dark. I’m thankful that I’m not in that place any longer,” she said.

Prayer has helped. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, James and her three children — Tyler, Ellie and Micha — visit Canon at Resurrection Cemetery in Lenexa.

“I feel like Canon was always part of my schedule as a mom,” James said. “When you’re a mom, you do things for all of them, so it was hard not to have him to do things for.

“In the beginning, scheduling him in on those two days is what helped.”

Nowadays, James has settled into a routine. She cleans up his headstone, changes decorations according to the season and often eats lunch there.

Sometimes, she will read books to Canon.

When her children go off to play, James will pray to the Blessed Mother.

“I just ask for her help and her strength,” she said. “I feel like she has such grace. Sometimes, I think about her after Jesus was crucified.  I think about how hard that must have been. How hard it was — knowing what was coming and knowing that she couldn’t help.

“She knows this feeling. If I can have a fraction of the strength she had, I will be doing all right.”

James is a firm believer in prayer. Without it, she doubts she could have gotten through Canon’s death.

“I honestly feel like my burden is shared,” she said. “Whether that is through Mary or Jesus, or even our friends and family who continue to lift us up. I honestly feel that it’s shared.

“I don’t think a mother’s heart is capable of surviving this without help from others.”

While some might see a cemetery as a place of death, James sees it as a place of love.

“When people are here, they’re here because they love someone so very, very much,” she said.

About the author

Todd Habiger

Todd has been the production manager for The Leaven since 1995. Under his direction The Leaven has won multiple design awards from the Catholic Press Association. Prior to working at The Leaven, Todd was an award-winning writer for The Catholic Key newspaper in Kansas City, Mo. Todd is married to Lori Wood Habiger, a former Leaven employee herself. They have two children — Paige and Connor, and one dog — Joli.

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