I was absolutely overwhelmed in those first days.
Cars, cars, cars filled my long driveway and front yard.
People spilling out like ants scrambling after the hill is disturbed.
Oh, our hill was disturbed-knocked wide open by that deputy’s visit. Phone calls to let others know. Phone calls from people who couldn’t get in touch with him and were just checking “in case something had happened”.
It had happened.
It. HAD. happened.
After the customary ceremony and handshaking and food, the cards flooded in. Some with hand-written heartfelt messages of, “praying for you”, “we are so very sorry”, “we love you”. Some with pre-printed poems that absolve the sender of the need to find words for things for which there are no words.
My son is dead. What can you say to that?
And then the silence. The morning that I woke up to realize I had done all I ever could do for Dominic. My last act was to find his body a resting place and pray his soul to heaven.
He was home.
I was left in a strange country filled with landmarks I no longer recognized and a language I no longer understood.
Who comes into that?
Not many. Only a few brave souls stick around for the after-only a few true friends keep calling and coming and caring for the long haul.
Because sitting with me in my grief, listening to me question my faith, keeping company with uncertainty and loss of control is frightening. It takes great self-control to simply be present and not try to say something or do something to try to fix the unfixable.
If it could happen to MY family, it could happen to theirs. And no one wants to think of that unless they have to.
So most leave.
Not immediately and not flamboyantly. They just drift away like unmoored sailboats caught in the rising winds of life and busyness and school plays and church socials.
My personal tragedy is a footnote to their life journal-and who reads footnotes?
But there are a few who purpose to make my burden their burden.
A few who call and write and text and message on the important dates like when he died, his birthday, Christmas, Easter. Even fewer who call and write and text and message just because-just because they heard a song or saw a sunset or remembered for a moment that there is a mama out there who carries this grief 24/7.
I have no idea how Jesus will reward His followers when they make it Home. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the ones who choose to run in when others run away will receive a crown. Because their faithful love in the dark places brings life and light to hurting hearts.
And isn’t that the essence of the gospel message?
You are not alone.
You are loved.
There is a way forward.
When you have exhausted all your own resources, God has made a way where there was no way. Even when you can’t take a step on your own-especially when you can’t take a step on your own-Jesus will carry you.
The ones who stay sing the gospel song to my heart.
They remind me that Jesus hasn’t forgotten.