By Wil Triggs
October and December are months that make me think of Caroline Hoch—the Caroline behind the Caroline Fund that is set up to help families with the many costs involved in adoption.
December because that’s the month she was born. That’s my birthday month, too. As her great-uncle, we always did something together to celebrate.
A summer birthday could have all kinds of possibilities—pool parties, Great America, a campfire at a park, other things. And Caroline had family members who took full advantage of warm-weather birthdays. But December is cold. Plus, I think Caroline felt a little upstaged sometimes by sharing a birthday month with Jesus.
So I always made it a point to remember and do something with her. It was special and fun for us to share that month. We weren’t born on the same day, so anytime in the month would do. For me, it was a treat to do something with just her, to celebrate that we had both made it through another year, and to look forward to something special in the year ahead. I remember sitting in a darkened movie theater munching on popcorn together, painting ceramics at a paint-your-own pottery shop or eating some of her home-baked cookies, which she seemed to always be baking whenever we went over to her house.
We can’t do that in December anymore, which brings me to the month of October. It was in that month that a car struck and killed her. Since Caroline and her family had moved to Spokane, we heard the news by phone. First about the accident. Then, weirdly, that she was gone. How could it be?
And so it was that we made our way from Illinois to Washington State for the gathering that was her funeral. It was the only time we’ve made our way out there to see family. We’re glad we were able to go, but it still seems dreamlike. Not a nightmare, but a dream where family come together to grieve and love each other.
I remember walking into the funeral home—situated in a park-like setting—and we saw Caroline’s younger brother Elijah, walking and holding hands with people we didn’t know. We called his name, and without saying a word, Elijah broke away and came running to us. We gathered him close, holding tightly to each other, and we began to cry.
This year, as another anniversary comes near, Holly, her mom and my niece, posts this on Facebook:
“This heart I wear around my neck in October is very special to me. It has little monetary value, but the center heart that fit perfectly there and is now missing was tied around Caroline's wrist when we buried her. It was given to me by the Child Life specialists at Sacred Heart Medical Center. The heart-shaped hole represents the hole in my heart that still remains with one of my babies gone home to Jesus before me. Someday that hole will no longer be there, praise God! But today I feel it deeply. Missing my girl.”
We live in the hope of the Resurrection. It’s great to think of children joining families through the Caroline Fund here at College Church. Every child is a gift, a miracle really, and the element of adoption underscores for me that we are all adopted by God into his family and he is preparing a gathering at his table in his home for us, forever.