What love looks like when your parents die

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One of my favorite blogs in the entire world is Life In Grace.  Their house burnt down Christmas 2010 and she has been such an inspiration to me over the past two years. I’m a day late, but I’m linking up over at her blog, talking about what love looks like.

It only took me a few seconds to decide what to share with you today. When I think about what love looks like, and what it’s like to love on purpose, I think of my husband on June 12th, 2012.

On June 12th, 2012 I called Pat at work at about 10:00 am. I had been on the phone for two hours prior with my sister, my brother, the sheriff’s office, the marina in Platte, and my mom and dad’s work places.

“Can you please come home? We think something is really wrong.”

Mom and Dad were missing.  They hadn’t arrived at work that morning. They weren’t answering our calls or texts.  After calling the marina in Platte, we were told their boat was still there, anchored in the marina. After that no one would tell us anything.

As soon as Pat got home, he, Tracy and I got in the car and headed for Platte. The drive was a little over two hours. Two hours to think and pray and worry and plead with God to not let this really be happening.  We didn’t say much along the way. I looked out the window and let myself cry quietly. Pat would periodically reach up to me and squeeze my shoulder or grab my hand.

We got to the Platte Marina and ran down to the police tape and were told that Mom and Dad had died on the boat due to carbon monoxide poisoning (or at least that was what they thought at the time).  I screamed and clung to Pat. I don’t remember if he cried out or not but I know that he held me up and he grabbed on to Tracy too.

He then made the first of the two most difficult calls he would probably ever have to make. He called Danelle, who was on the way down from Aberdeen. She was still probably an hour away. He told her to pull over and had to tell her that Mom and Dad were gone. He then offered to go meet her and drive her down. After awhile she decided that she could make it down.

We stood on the road and on the rocks along the shore of the Marina, while the investigators waited for the carbon monoxide to dissipate so they could go on the boat. We waited when they were eventually able to go on the boat. We waited while they carried our beloved parents off.

All the while Pat was there. He made phone calls, he answered phone calls, he talked with the sheriff and investigators, he hugged us and cried with us and helped us make decisions and gave sound advice.

Making phone calls and answering phone calls might not seem like a huge deal. But for all of us it was the most profound way that he was able to show his love. Looking back I don’t think that we really recognized the pain that he must have been in. He was so close with Mom and Dad. And yet I didn’t see him weep or break down and rarely even cry. I’m sure he did. But in front of us and for us, he was strong.

There were many times when my phone would ring and I would immediately pass it to him. He didn’t question or ask who it was or sigh or roll his eyes or get upset or annoyed. He took my phone and answered the call and took care of whatever it was. He took care of us.

When my brother Jim called at 2:00 pm on Wednesday the 13th, he and Leana just arriving into Chicago from South Africa, I said hello, started crying and then passed the phone to Pat. The second most difficult call. Pat knew exactly what to say. I don’t know if he had been rehearsing or what but we hadn’t asked him to be the one to tell Jim. It just turned out that way. And once again, Pat loved us on purpose. He did what the rest of us couldn’t do. For the next four days while we prepared for the memorial service and then after while we tried to sort through our grief and anger and pain and garage after garage and room after room of stuff, Pat was there. He loved us on purpose.

Over 8 months later, Pat continues to love on purpose. When I don’t come to bed until 2:00 am, for the third night in a row, because I can’t close my eyes without revisiting that day, he doesn’t get upset or tell me to get over it or demand that I get my crap together.  When I have the third helping of dessert, even though I’m 20 lbs overweight (and counting) he doesn’t give me the look or say anything. When I tell him I can’t make supper and I’m just feeling sorry for myself and the house is a disaster – no really, a complete disaster – and there’s laundry overflowing and dishes overflowing and toys and papers and books and blankets and more laundry overflowing, he doesn’t say a word. He continues to love me on purpose. He teases me and tells me I’m hot and tells the kids not to watch so he can kiss kiss me and does the dishes and the laundry and talks in a funny voice and makes us laugh and cooks amazing meals and puts the kids to bed.

Maybe I have changed. Maybe before June 12th I was so caught up in the rat race of life that I didn’t realize that all along my husband was loving me and our family on purpose.  But whatever changed – whether it was me or him, or more than likely both of us – I’m so thankful for him. I’m so thankful for his love. I’m so thankful for the legacy he is leaving for our kids and for his daily example of purposeful love.



2 thoughts on “What love looks like when your parents die

    jerri mckinley said:
    February 28, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    I still think of you and your family frequently after the loss of your parents. Mine are both gone, too, but not at the same time. I, was so thrilled to read your story today and know that God is in control of your lives just like He is in control of mine. Love is all encompassing and God displays it best of all. Thank you for sharing from your heart.

    Michele Davis said:
    March 1, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Hang in there, Missy. Know that I think about you and your family often. It sounds like you have one amazing husband! Sending much love from Texas!

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