Music star Steve Curtis Chapman has a big loving family alongside his wife, Mary Beth Chapman. Still, the family was once thrown into melancholy following the tragic passing of their little daughter.
It has been 14 years since gospel star Steven Curtis Chapman and his family bade a painful farewell to a beloved family member. Steven's young daughter Maria had lost her life in an unfathomable fatal accident.
Before her passing, Maria was a lively little girl who had joined the family via adoption. The youngster was the sixth child in a family of three biological kids and three adopted children. Here's how her family handled the devastating chasm her death caused.
[Left] Picture of Steve Curtis Chapman; [Right] Picture of Steve Curtis Chapman's late daughter, Maria | Source: youtube.com/lifetodaytv || instagram.com/stevencurtischapman
INSIDE STEVEN'S FAMILY
Steven and his wife of 48 years, Mary, were longtime supporters of international adoption before they adopted two children to join their family of three biological kids. However, one more child was to join them in 2008, despite Mary not wanting to adopt more kids.
This came to be after Steve traveled to China in 2008 and found a little girl who tugged at his heartstrings. Before traveling, Mary sternly warned her husband not to bring in more adopted kids. However, it seemed he had his mindset on wanting more children. He once said about adoption:
"After our first trip to China, my wife and I knew our lives were changing - our eyes and hearts were opening to how big God really is, and ve have wanted to experience more of that."
Steven Curtis Chapman and Mary Beth Chapman attend the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
The "Be Still And Know" crooner adopted the little girl name Maria Sue Chapman and was soon on his way home with her. Mary, who had initially been skeptical about having more kids, was immediately smitten. She said of meeting Maria:
"'We knew from the get-go that she was a fire-cracker."
Mary Beth Chapman and Steven Curtis Chapman of Show Hope attend the GMA Honors Celebration and Hall of Fame Induction at the Allen Arena at Lipscomb University on April 29, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee | Source: Getty Images
And so it became that the couple built a family of six with Maria as the youngest. The little one who had a bubbly personality wasted no time bonding with her siblings, especially her immediate sister, Stevey Joy, who was only seven months older.
Stevey and Maria did everything together, from wearing similar clothes to attending the same preschool. The two could almost pass for twins. However, their older siblings Shaoey, Will, Emily, and Caleb found them adorable and made sure to watch over them.
MARIA'S PAINFUL PASSING
Maria's bubbly nature was the last thing her parents remembered about her on the fateful day she passed on. The five-year-old had been playing in the yard with two of her older siblings when things went awry.
While the trio went about their minor children's business, their older brother, Will, pulled up close to the driveway. At the rave of the car, Maria became excited and quickly dashed off to welcome him home.
As Will maneuvered the SUV onto the driveway, he did not see Maria approach. She crossed over the yard and ran straight into the moving vehicle. The effect of the hit knocked her down.
Steven and Mary applied CPR a couple of times on Maria, who had been knocked unconscious. Soon enough, a Lifeline helicopter arrived and rushed her to the Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville.
It was at the health facility that the doctors confirmed her death. The devastating news had the Chapman family in complete disbelief and the first wave of denial. Steven said of the incident:
"We didn't know how we're going to take the next breath."
The dad-of-six was utterly distraught, often running off and far away from home to a place where he could let out his anguish with screams of pain. Steve told Tennessean:
"It sure didn't and doesn't make sense. But I never felt like God had abandoned us."
Maria's painful death preceded a series of celebrations her family had anticipated. The late baby girl earlier celebrated her fifth birthday while older sister Emily was to organize her engagement during the weekend. Maria's older brother, Caleb, had also been preparing for his graduation from high school.
THE FINAL FAREWELL
On the day of Maria's funeral, 700 mourners across the city joined the Chapman family to bid farewell. The young girl was buried three days after her passing while a memorial service was held at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville.
Maria was solemnly remembered for her lively nature, love for flowers, playing in the water, snuggling with her siblings, and doing the dishes "buck naked." The family stood barefooted for the burial ceremony as a form of respect for the holy ground.
They believed that Maria's death made the ground they stood upon holy. The little girl's coffin was covered in pink flowers while her loved ones took turns holding her little arms in theirs for the last time.
Will, whose pain knew no bounds, cried profusely as he wore Maria's security blanket around his neck. The family was in indescribable pain but not so helpless. They believed Maria was with Jesus. Their star dad shared:
"We had talked [with Maria] about what it meant to be with Jesus. I had no idea how soon it was going to be, but we know she is in His amazing house, playing in the water."
HOW STEVE DEALT WITH PAIN
Steven Curtis Chapman attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California | Source: Getty Images
After their youngest daughter was laid to rest, Steve and Mary were left to deal with their heart-wrenching feelings and the other kids' grief. So the family started doing everything, from grieving to crying and sleeping together.
Steven felt like he was in "a black hole despite the togetherness." The star dad felt helpless to be pulled down "to a place of despair." During her lifetime, Maria and Steven had a strong connection. He explained in an interview:
"I can't put it into words, but I've picked up a lot of little orphan boys and girls over the years. I've never had anything happen to my heart like what happened when I held this little girl in my arms for a few minutes."
The Grammy-winning singer could not again move on without thinking of his daughter's infectious smile. He also found it challenging to go back to music or even find solace in it.
However, as the overwhelming emotions ebbed, Steven's thoughts became more evident, and he decided to put his grief into a new music project. His co-producer Milligan shared to CNN:
"In recording these songs he knew they were going to bring hope to a lot of people. And that is so much what he is about. These songs are timeless, people will always be hurting and these songs will always speak to them."
While Steven tried managing his pain in the best way, Will also battled with his mental health. As a result, he and his siblings had many counseling sessions, and they depended on their faith and family support.
Will was engulfed by the agony so much that he ran away from home after the accident. He recalled how his brother Caleb had been the first to grab and comfort him while his other siblings joined in.
He stated his faith: "I've gotten a stronger faith through all this, you know, and more faith through all this. But then there are those days, you know, that just hit you and you're just, like, 'Oh, man, this is just awful.' But -- you just gotta continue to choose to live. And that's the faith that, that continues to keep me going, you know."
In the years that followed, Will took it upon himself to always remember his sister and acknowledge her accordingly. In one of his 2019 Instagram posts, Will shared a photo of his late sister smiling in a ballet tutu. In addition, he wrote extensively of his hurt, noting that it all made him stronger.
STEVEN'S SOLEMN BIRTHDAY MESSAGE TO MARIA
Last year Steven took to his Instagram page on what would have been Maria's 18th birthday. He shared a photo of her while pouring out his heart in the lengthy caption.
The music star wrote that her birthdays always counted as a solemn period for the family years after her passing, but it also reminded them of eternity. Steven wrote of his belief that Christ defeated death, and they would see Maria again.
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