Stretching my faith
I don’t know you and I didn’t know your parents. But you have been heavy on my heart since Christmas Day. We were leaving my brother’s house after celebrating Christmas and we were passed by police cars and fire trucks and ambulances. We turned on the police scanner and heard the words, “plane crash.”
The next morning my friend texted me to tell me that it was a mom and dad who died in the crash. She wanted me to know before I heard it on the news. She knows me well because it was a trigger and I wept at my desk but I was thankful to hear it from a friend. I texted her back, “UG! I feel like I’ll never heal.”
Very few can understand your grief. Losing both parents at the same time, the grandparents of your children, so suddenly. Without warning. Without being able to say goodbye.
Unfortunately, I can understand. I lost my parents to carbon monoxide poisoning 6 ½ years ago. One day we were joyously living life and the next, we were saying goodbye to the two who held our family together. If I can be completely honest, there are still days where it’s a struggle to find the joy.
This morning I woke up and I prayed for you. I remember the morning after we found our parents, dead on their boat for three days. I remember waking up and the first thing I thought was, “It wasn’t a dream.” How could it not be a dream? I never could have imagined something so painful. And so I prayed for you this morning because I’m sure you were experiencing the same thing. The same realization that you were walking through something so difficult that it was hard to breathe.
I remember the questions.
Why did God take them together? And then in the next breath we were thanking God for taking them together. They had been married for 42 years and were inseparable. They loved living life together and after many years of struggle and heartache, in the last half of their marriage, it had grown into something so beautiful.
Why couldn’t we have said goodbye? Why couldn’t we have seen them, even after their death, to tell them one more time how much we loved them? Those questions still haunt me and I know they will probably never be answered this side of heaven. Even though today you probably can’t imagine coming to peace with those questions, there will come a day when you will realize that some questions aren’t meant to be answered. And I pray that despite the questions, you will find peace.
Sometimes I feel so silly over the grief I feel from the loss of my parents. It’s been almost seven years and I’m an adult, but I still often feel like an orphaned child. I will pray that you will allow yourself to grieve. Allow yourself the time. Seven years from now, if you still feel like an orphaned child, it’s ok. And I’ll keep telling myself that too.
I will pray for you that you will find comfort in each other, as me and my siblings have found. I pray you will find comfort in extended family and friends. There have been so many people in my life who have stepped in as surrogate parents and grandparents over the years. Yes, there have been times and there continues to be, when their absence was so real it was like a knife to my heart. During those times, there is sometimes peace, always tears and sometimes doubt. But I know I have to keep looking for the joy through it all.
I will pray for you that over time you will begin to find joy again. You will see your parents in your children and it hurt but it will also make you smile. You will remember something they said or did and it will make you laugh. You will remember advice they gave and you will be encouraged.
Whatever tomorrow brings Meyer family, I just want you to know that you are loved and prayed for. I will pray for you daily and I look forward to the day when both our families are whole again.
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. Psalm 31:9
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
On June 16th, 2012, I wrote this:
Dear Mom and Dad,
The mornings are the hardest.
Every morning as we wake up, we are reminded again that you are gone. The realization of losing you is paralyzing and it feels like our lives will forever be filled with sadness. I wonder where the joy is.
“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5”
Despite the sorrow and despite the heartache, I know that joy will come. I know because it’s a promise from God’s Word. And right now that’s all we have. All we have is our memories of you and of the faith that you lived. You lived the promises of God’s Word and you would continually remind us of God’s love and of the joy that we can find only through Him.
We looked through your purse today Mom. It was good. And it was horrible. Jim found a note that you had written:
“God who began will finish. My daughter made a remark on her blog the other day. She said something about how she has a penchant for not finishing things. I never really considered that as a trait of hers, but what I found odd, was the next day the Lord led me to these verses in His Word. “God who began this good work in me WILL finish it.” Period. What good work will that be? I’m not doing anything for Him right now. But I think I’m getting “works” mixed up with His good work. HE SAID HE WILL FINISH!”
Mom, you wrote this last fall and it now brings us great comfort. The only thing that can bring us joy now is to cling to the love of God and to remember that good work that He has done and is doing in you and Dad’s life. We know that one morning, probably a very long time from now, we will wake up and find joy in the morning. Find joy in the love of our Savior and of the legacy you both have left for us.
It’s amazing how grief and joy can live intertwined in our lives after experiencing a loss. God did not leave us on that day and neither did His joy. But I think sometimes we can miss joy.
On Monday we went fishing and it wasn’t the best weather so we were the only ones there. Until two older people came over to where we were. They had their two grandchildren with them and as I saw them, the first thing I thought was, “why.” That should be mom and dad with Angel and Caleb.
But if I would have allowed myself to sit in that thought, I would have missed the joy of seeing Angel and Caleb fish and swim in the freezing cold lake and bury themselves in sand. I would have missed the joy of sitting in peaceful silence on the side of the lake with Pat. It is not easy, choosing joy, but it is something I know I can do with God’s help.
As I look back over the past six years, there has been a lot of grief, but there has been so much joy too! Even days after we found them, there was joy in the celebration of their life and encouragement and love from family and friends.
There is joy in seeing Angel and Caleb grow up and being able to tell them all about their Papa and Grandma Susie. There is joy in seeing my dad in Caleb. There is joy in laughing at the memories of mom and dad. There is joy in making new memories with my siblings and baby blue eyes Cleo. There is joy in the anticipation of our first grand-baby.
There is joy in knowing that mom and dad are with Jesus.
I wonder if part of the meaning of Psalm 30:5 is that in this life there will be weeping. So much weeping and pain and questions and grief. But in the morning – when we leave this world and join Jesus in heaven – there will be nothing but joy!
Oh, I can’t wait. What a wonderful promise to cling to! And so that is what I will do. When I don’t see or feel the joy I will trust in God’s word and know that my joy is in Jesus and the many gifts He has given to us.
Just like Garth Brooks, I’ve got friends in low places.
I’ve always struggled with friends. Well, not always. I think it started after I left my first husband and abandoned my faith. Through all of that I also turned my back on my closest friends. So it’s been a struggle to allow myself to be a friend and accept friendship. I think I’ve been afraid that I would fail again or hurt them.
Thankfully, over time, God has healed that part of my heart and has brought kindred spirits into my life. Friends who have walked with me through the lowest of lows.
Yesterday I was looking back through Facebook and blog comments from June 12, 2012. And the 13th and 14th and so on. I came across a post on the 13th where I asked if anyone could take the kids for a couple hours. The offers were endless and we were given some time to try to sort through everything. One of my friends who had the kids for a couple hours sent me these pictures:
Oh it made my heart happy to remember how well my kids were cared for on one of the toughest days of our lives. And how all of us have continued to be cared for.
And seriously, how were my babies so little!?
Over the past six years, I have been so blessed to have friends and family who have encouraged us and prayed for us and allowed us to heal through with the pain and grief we experienced and continue to experience.
Friends who text or call for no reason other than to say hi and that they are praying. Friends who allow us to be truly real and honest about our struggles…and love us just the same. Friends who send gifts for no reason, just to let us know that we are not alone. Friends who we can laugh with and cry with. Friends who don’t accept “I’m fine” as an answer to the question of how we are doing. Friends who when I try to cancel plans because I’d rather just stay home alone, tell me too bad, you aren’t staying home alone (not in those exact words, but close 🙂 ).
Friends who are the hands of feet of Jesus, even when I am at my lowest and not the best friend in return.
I am also reminded that as loved and cared for as we have been these past six years, there is only one friend who is my rock. Only one friend who will never fail me or leave me. Only one friend who brings complete healing and peace. Oh what a friend we have in Jesus!
Maybe you read this and think, “I don’t have a friend like that.” Let me encourage you first, that yes, you do have a friend in Jesus! He loves you!
But also I want to encourage you to be that friend that someone needs right now. Regardless of what you receive in return, be the hands and feet of Jesus. Maybe you don’t even know this someone that well but that’s ok – love them, pray for them, ask them how you can help. Jesus wants to use you and through your love and friendship, Jesus can change someone’s life!
Thank you Jesus for the friends you have put in my life. And thank you Jesus that I can lay my burdens down at your feet and forever and ever your heart is my home.
This day. Six years ago.
Tuesday, June 12th, 2012.
I never could have imagined a heartbreak so painful or a grief so profound. The questions. The worry. And when the answers came, they of course, weren’t the answers we wanted or prayed for.
But God was still there. Even on that day.
He’s been there every day since.
Every day I’ve doubted. Every day I’ve cried out in anger and confusion. Every day my heart has ached to see mom and dad one more time. Every day we’ve laughed at a memory. Every day we’ve made new memories. Every single day.
He’s been there through the joy and the sorrow. Through the healing and the pain. The seasons change and time goes on. And He’s still the God of every day.
Do you have a day? A day you dread. A day that brings painful memories. A day that reminds you of failure.
God is the God of even that day.
On this day, June 12th, I look to Him. My tears of grief are mixed with tears of joy knowing that I can put my hope and trust in the God who walks with me each and every day.