It started out like any other normal August day. It was a warm and sunny Monday, and the girls were excited to have my mom over to play. My parents had been visiting an hour away with my dad’s mom that morning, so when dad headed out in his semi from there for his usual weekly run, mom came over since she was driving past our house anyway. Looking back, I see God’s provision in the simple fact that she was at my house that day.
After the girls afternoon nap we were outside enjoying the beautiful weather. Mom took the girls to the park across from our backyard (practically in our backyard) and I was picking raspberries from our massive patch in the garden, which is practically in the park.
Chris came home from work around 5:30 and came out to say hi to us. He had no sooner said hi to me at the raspberry patch when his cell rang. It was my dad and he was asking for me or mom. Chris knew right away from his voice that someone had died, and he knew it had to be one of my two brothers. He quickly took the phone to mom and our lives have never been the same since.
I think I can honestly say that until that point, my life had been pretty darn good. I had never known grief, never known personal loss, and never really had anything bad happen to me. I often thought about the hurting people around me and wondered what it was like for them, but I really had no way of relating. Pain, heartache, suffering, sorrow, sadness, grief…all very foreign feelings for me until that day when they all came crashing in on me at once.
“We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, ‘Blessed are they that mourn,’ and I accept it. I’ve got nothing that I hadn’t bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.”
– C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
I remember times as a child when I would lay awake at night imagining what it would be like if one of my parents died, often bringing myself to tears at the tragic story I had made up in my head. And when others close to me have suffered loss, I have felt sadness for them, like how you feel watching someone else’s story unfold on a movie (except more personal obviously). But I just never had any idea that losing someone so close to you could hurt so much.
Now I am “that person”-the one everyone else feels sorry for…the one everyone gets a bit awkward around because they don’t really know what to say. The one who is now in the reality club of life. Life is pain. There is no escaping death and sin on this earth. It affects us all. I knew this. But I didn’t know it sucked so much. I didn’t know it hurt so bad. I didn’t know it felt like your heart was literally being squeezed and like a ton of bricks fell on your chest.
The first few months were a hazy bad dream, as cards and flowers came flooding in from far and wide. I never wanted to be that person who got sympathy cards and flowers..who wept at the side of a fresh grave. It was so much like I was watching a movie..watching someone else’s horrible story unfold.
As we limped through the next excruciating weeks of funeral planning and trying to cope with the normal parts of life that still always must go on, we were reminded many times of God’s comfort and grace through loving family and friends who were there for us in so many ways. Even when God felt far away, his people were bringing His love near to us.
Our family’s lives all changed in an instant and we were all thrust down the bleak path of learning how to live with grief and the new big hole in our hearts.