The Hope Amid the Darkness

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.                 Corrie Ten Boom

Holy Saturday.

Jesus has been crucified and buried.

His followers are bewildered and afraid.

Darkness prevailed.

Looking back over the past month I have struggled with my own bewilderment and darkness as I’ve attempted to come to grips with the death of the 16-year-old soccer teammate of my son, Ben.

It began on March 8th.

That morning I received a text from my other son, Patrick, “something’s happened at Jesuit”

Me, “what do you mean?  is the school on lockdown? Are there alarms going off? Are there emergency vehicles? Why do you think something has happened?” (It had only been three weeks since the school shootings had happened in Florida – I was feeling a little nervous.)

Son, “I’m not sure but they announced a freshman and sophomore meeting and changed the class schedule for the day.”

A moment later, “a sophomore died.  It was a car crash.  Guy Delaney, he played JV soccer.  Ben probably knows him.”

And, with that news, the day and the ones that followed went dark.

My heart was shattered for Guy, his family, his teammates, friends and, the staff at Jesuit who now had to help the students and each other navigate a second student death this school year.

My heart was also broken for Ben who was devastated and confused and had no idea how to handle the amount of grief he felt. I was overwhelmed, and surprised, by my own sorrow and the anguish I felt for Guy’s family.

Darkness settled in and I struggled through the ensuing days. I tried to choose joy when I woke in the morning and I tried to be thankful for the many blessings each day brings.  I tried.

But the darkness and grief were powerful.

I didn’t question God or why it happened.  I know free will dictated the choice made by the driver who caused the crash.  And, I believe strongly that, even as Jesus welcomed Guy into His kingdom, he also cried for the loss felt so strongly by so many.

My head knew these things but I couldn’t seem to convince my heart that everything was going to be okay.

As funerals often do, it began the process of closure for those outside his immediate family.  Guy’s parents invited the soccer players to honor him by wearing their jerseys, processing in and placing a white rose on his casket.  The service was filled to capacity and the tributes remembering Guy helped everyone laugh through the tears.

And, a sliver of light broke through.

Two weeks after his passing, and playing their first soccer game since the funeral, the JV soccer team was praying before things got underway.  It was a cloudy sky but as the team huddled together a ray of sunshine broke through and shone on the players.  It was an incredibly powerful moment.

(photo cred to Rob Kelton)

The grace of God and our faith tells us this was Guy.

The sliver of light became a bright sunbeam.

The hope amid the darkness.

As Ben and I continued to talk about Guy, and the hardness of losing someone, the days slowly became brighter.  One morning, Ben shared with me that Guy had come to him in a dream during the night.  In the dream, Guy told him he was okay, Ben was able to tell him goodbye and they hugged. Ben felt the hug and he felt the love.  “It was so real”, he said.

Guy is in the arms of Jesus.  And, in a few hours, we will commemorate Jesus’ victory over death.

Bad things happen but, God is good.  Today, he has wrapped his loving arms around Guy’s family and all those who love him and continue to struggle with their grief.

And, long ago, on that Holy Saturday when his followers were baffled and afraid God knew the bigger plan would triumph.

The light is coming.  Hope is on the horizon.  Jesus will rise.  His followers and those of us who believe understand that even amidst all the confusion, grief, and darkness God’s love will prevail.

Thanks be to God.

Guy’s own profound words, written in a memory book and shared by his father, Neil, at the funeral:

“Work hard, be patient, say your prayers and the rest will follow.”

warning:  Love wins.

I did another post right after Guy died when the team played their first game without him.  If you are interested you can read that blog here.

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Welcomed Home

Six years ago my dad completed his journey here on earth.

In the early hours of that morning my mom sat with him when he breathed his last.  It was a peaceful – and blessed – death which seems strange to write but, really isn’t. He was at home, in no pain and had the opportunity to say goodbye to his family.

Later, waiting for the funeral home to arrive, I sat on my back patio.  Facing east, and the house my parents lived in, the sun began to rise and a soft breeze wafted across the yard.  I watched, and listened,  as the leaves gently swayed in the big pine tree and, I knew angels were moving through as they escorted my dad to Heaven.

It was a beautiful moment in the midst of a loss.

It was a quiet moment – before the glaring busyness of phone calls, texts and visitors began –  to reflect on all that was and all that could have been.

Just a couple of hours later a song about grief and death –  Welcome Home – by Michael W. Smith began playing….

What a lovely sound
Angels all around
Saying this is where you belong
Welcome home
Welcome home
Welcome home

Coincidence?  Not in my world.

It has been six years since the angels welcomed my dad and, still, when the breeze moves the tree ever so softly I think of the angels escorting him and I know that he is home and….

It is well with his soul.

 

 

Ricki

WordPress Daily Prompt – Final

We lost a beloved member of our family yesterday when our dog, Ricki, died.

A great dog who joined our family as a puppy, we loved her dearly. Full of life and energy, with two different colored eyes, the softest ears ever, and a black, cold, wet nose.  A nose that  she would affectionately ‘goose’ us with – particularly when we were wearing shorts. Yow!  Her personality was sweet and outgoing and she was ever-so-patient with all those around, especially children.   She loved to be loved and was never shy about asking people to pet her.  With a keen awareness of human emotion she instinctively knew if we were happy, sad, sick or excited – and would stay near no matter the circumstances.  When no one was looking she hopped on beds and pretended to be totally innocent when we walked in the room. And, she relished joining the fun no matter who was jumping on the trampoline.  If anyone was hugging – or dancing – Ricki would stand on her hind legs so she could also be part of the action.  And, if you played the harmonica she would howl until the raucous stopped.  She had a ferocious bark but never harmed one person.  She loved to run free off the leash and right into the lake, river or creek – and even the snow – but she always came right back.  Wanting to experience a little freedom she never once drifted too far away from us.  Whenever we came home she always ran up to the gate to greet us.

She was a big part of my heart.

An important piece of our family.

She was joy.

I feel no guilt for the tears I have wept and the sadness I feel as I mourn her passing.  I will miss her but I am grateful she was part of our lives.

Ricki and Lucy, my dynamic duo, is now just a party of one.  And our family as a whole feels a little less complete.

Rest in peace, Sweet Ricki.