The Moeller family remembers, recovers.
VANCOUVER — When a traffic accident took the lives of two of their sons and left another son paralyzed two years ago, St. Francis of Assisi parishioners Geoff and Maria Moeller turned to their Catholic faith for solace.
The shock and disbelief surrounding such a major tragedy and the shattering of so many hopes and dreams is a parent’s worst nightmare come true.
The couple not only had to deal with the deaths of Matthew, age nine, and Andrew, six, they had to support the badly injured Karl, their eight-year-old, who had been left a paraplegic. Their fourth son, one-year-old Lorenzo, was also in the family’s van at the time of the freeway accident but was not injured.
It brought them, say the couple, literally to their knees, asking God the questions that are usually asked when lives are changed forever.
“It was truly a true dark night of the soul,” said Geoff Moeller.
During countless sleepless nights he discovered that putting his thoughts on paper helped lift some of the burden. He began to write poems. While it was slow going at first, the more he wrote, the better he began to feel.
Now, a collection of poems and reflections on his memories of the children and the family’s bereavement journey are available in a book entitled All in God’s Time, My Sons — Reflections on the Death of My Children.
It’s all there, he said in an interview, including the rage and sadness that at first consumed him. His profound pain almost jumps off the pages as he questions how such a thing could happen to his beautiful sons and perfect family.
Slowly, as poem succeeds poem, the tone changes as he comes to realize how grateful he is for the all-too-brief time he was able to be the father of such extraordinary boys.
It has made him, he said, so thankful Karl was spared and that he has adjusted well to his disability, is back in school at St. Francis of Assisi Elementary, and is living a different but happy life after being introduced to wheelchair sports.
In the book’s foreword, Father Ian Charles Stuart, who married Geoff and Maria and is godfather to Lorenzo, wrote, “Geoff shares with us the fruits of a pondering heart, one that has witnessed the transforming power of God in the midst of a troubling, piercing reality.
“What flows forth is a light which dispels darkness, a strength which is truly a source of comfort, a message of faith and hope which is a beacon for all those weighed down by realities of darkness, confusion and fear.”
Moeller’s verses, he said, are a testament to the necessity of appreciating loved ones while they are still here. They remind us that life is sometimes heartbreakingly brief, but that faith can bind, although not necessarily cure, our wounds.
The poems, said Stuart, are a faith-filled response to the question which besets us when bad things happen: “Where is God in all this?” They are also, he added, “a beautiful legacy” for the remaining two boys, Karl and Lorenzo.
Abbot John Braganza of Westminster Abbey and the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission, where Moeller completed high school and lived for several years as a member of the Benedictine community, added these thoughts in his eulogy at the funeral Mass of Matthew and Andrew on Dec. 10, 2008:
“The solution to the mystery of the gift of children and the loss of children can be found only in Jesus, in his gift to us of the Eucharist, which is both the gift of his life and his resurrection.”
The book is available in both print and e-book editions. Partial proceeds from book sales will be donated to St. Francis of Assisi School, which pitched in to hold fundraising events for modification of the school building and the school bus so Karl could return to classes in his wheelchair.
There is good news as well: Geoff and Maria are expecting the birth of a baby early next year.
“We know God is guiding us. He has been present to us through everything and he will be with our family as we look forward to the future,” said Moeller.