As we round out the last few days of National Infant Mortality Awareness Month, I want to share a story that has impacted me since I first heard it almost five years ago.
Trigger warning: Although this story begins with sadness, it is a beautiful, present-day example of how beauty can come from ashes.
On March 7, 1999, a fire started in the home of the Page family while they were sleeping. James and Justina Page’s 22-month old son, Amos, did not survive the fire. His five brothers, including his twin, survived. Justina suffered severe burns and was in a coma for a month. She would have given her very life so that Amos could live. But God’s ways are not our ways.
Even though I have heard this story a few times, I still gain something every time I hear it. So, I decided to share it with the Christian Mommas community. I recently sat down with Justina to get the story in her own words.
Emem: Take us through the emotions you experienced, from the night of the tragedy until today
Justina: I went through several phases of emotions.
Phase 1: Initially I felt extreme anger at God, total devastation, and I felt I had no reason to live. The pain was indescribable and the depths of despair felt unbearable.
Phase 2: As months went by, I felt numb. There was a large hole in my heart and in my life. There was a constant feeling that something was missing. I did begin to feel some reassurance from knowing that Amos was in Jesus’ arms. But I also felt angry at the insensitivity of some people, who said things like “well, at least you have 5 other sons.”
Phase 3: As more time went by, while I hated the situation, I did begin to feel grateful for my other children. I got a realization that God knew what He was doing. I began to seek out what I could do with this hole, to bring some sort of purpose and meaning to what had happened.
Phase 4: With the passage of more time, came the discovery that the tragedy had meaning. I began to see his story and life have purpose and meaning in thousands of people.
Phase 5: This is the phase I am in now. I still have tears from time to time, but I also have joy and faith and purpose and blessings. I no longer just see death, I see life!
Emem: Thank you for taking us through the phases. What helped you get through those emotionally and physically unbearable times?
1. The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was truly my Comforter in my darkest moments.
2. My incredibly understanding and spiritual husband, who put up with me when I was feeling anything but spiritual and when I was not in the mood to be kind. He showed (and continues to show) a tenderness that I believe is God-sent.
3. Support of my church family. They treated me so well and made me feel so special. You would have thought I was a celebrity or something. I did not lack anything. They did all the cleaning, cooking and helped take care of my kids. Which is why I’m so big about helping people. The way they helped me was the difference between life and death for me, literally.
Emem: How amazing that you had such support and that you have been paying it forward all these years. Were there any Bible verses that you held on to?
Justina: Yes, I held on to them then, and I still hold on to them now. They are:
● Rom 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
● Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time”
● Isaiah 61:3 – “to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion — to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
Emem: Thank you, those are very comforting verses. What would you like to share with a mom who is mourning the loss of her child?
Justina: There are so many things that come to mind to say to you. But for now, I’ll share three:
1. Pain is personal. Do not feel compelled to compare your pain with anyone else’s.
2. Time is going to be a friend. It might not seem like it, but in time, it does get better, if we let it.
3. God has a way of using every ounce of our life experiences for His glory. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Justina says that she was able to find purpose from her pain. Her burn scars are a reminder that God isn’t done with her yet, and she is on a mission to make sure that Amos’ short life was not in vain.
The fire did not slow her down; in fact, she has put her energy and efforts into supporting other burn survivors and their families. Here are some examples of the beauty that has emerged from the ashes:
● Podcast host – in 2020, she launched two podcasts. One of them is the In His Arms podcast, where she discusses the hard topics, shares from her own experience, and provides encouragement for other mothers who have experienced loss.
● Author – She is the author of several books, including Circle of Fire, where she shares this story in greater detail. It is such a moving book.
● International speaker – she shares her story to diverse audiences around the globe, providing hope and inspiration.
● Actress – yes, you read that right! She plays Aunt Hazel in the award-winning movie “We are Stronger”, and in the TV series “Breaking Strongholds.”
● Nonprofit Executive Director – she founded the Amos House of Faith. Named for her angel baby Amos, this nonprofit does so much good, including (but not limited to):
…Annual Thanksgiving dinner for families of burn survivors…
… Annual Gala for raising funds and awareness for fire prevention and to help burn survivors…
…Fire awareness events for children…
If you would like to connect with her, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit her website at justinapage.com. Tell her Emem sent you! ❤️
PS: For every mom who is mourning the loss of her child, no matter the mom’s age or the child’s age, our hearts and prayers are with you, here at Christian Mommas. Please let us know how we can pray for you.
Emem Washington is a TEDx Coach and the Founder and CEO of ModaVida, LLC, a personal and professional development company. She is also a Best-Selling Amazon Author, Recording Artist, Success Strategist and Attorney. Through her writing, coaching and events, she inspires many people worldwide to follow their dreams, elevate their self-image and recognize the value of their gifts and strengths. Her mission is to equip and empower women to fully master their identity, so they can have aligned impact, and authentically serve their awesomeness to the world. Connect with her at www.ememwashington.com or on Instagram @ememwashington