This has been an abnormal week for us. It’s been quiet and low key. Not really my tempo. We all seem to dance to the rhythm of noise, doors slamming, shoes left in the entry way, the chatter and laughter of friends, the unending piles of dishes, the sour smells of sweaty clothes. And with the boys gone, we are off tune, out of sync. They are having a fabulous time with my sister, brother in law and their amazing boy cousins. But life does not move at our expected pace when they are gone. My heart is full of thankfulness for this wonderful opportunity for my boys to go, see, experience and taste the East Coast. They have traveled the Metro, rode in a cab, taken in the monuments of DC, closed their eyes in a Hershey, PA, hotel, spent their energy at Hershey Park, tasted DC food, watched the Nationals play ball and relished in the company of their far away family. And there are still moments to be had before they travel home on Friday just in time to blow things up with their friends. These are moments forever embedded in hearts, tucked away in the corners of their memories. A blessing to be had; my heart is full for my boys, for all four of my sweetly loved boys.
Yet with their excitement, soaking in the fun of a different piece of the US, lies a sadness and grief over the death of Blake. This beautiful soul, one Brad has walked with since kindergarten, will be remembered tomorrow by many. How does one pack the adventures and beauty of a 16 year old life into mere moments of togetherness and adequately share a life lost too soon? I’ve seen such sadness lingering in the eyes of lost friends who gather daily in the home next to ours. Such grief expressed in the shrugged shoulders and downcast eyes. Confusion in learning to process death. These boys are too young. Too inexperienced. Too innocent. Yet sorrow is shared. Love is embraced. Memories under tight grasp. As life brings sudden pain, it’s the circle of life none want to face, yet all must behold. My heart has been full, in the crevices of sorrow, as I daily watch the unity of like minded boys, falling into place at the gathering place beyond the shared grass and lofty trees where Blake’s best friend lies down in sleep every night. My heart is torn wishing Brad was here to experience the loss and remembering but also grateful for the sparing of the pain replaced by the distraction of a week with loving family.
In shared sorrow and fresh fallen tears, I reminded Brad of the opportunity to share Christ with hurting hearts. Reminders of placing faith in the One who holds our every tomorrow. Only He knows our last moments here. Who says in Proverbs 16:9 ~ A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD determines his steps.
There is a no such thing as the right time to travel from here to eternity. Either too young or too old. Too quickly or too slowly. The center of the loss is the pain in remembering and yearning for one more touch, one more I love you, one more laugh, one more smell, one more kiss. Just one more treasured moment. Yet the beauty is the truth of eternity for those who believe. The refreshment of the span of eternity to spend with those we love, living in the light of Jesus. The mercy of healing and peace and perfection. The day is coming for all of us. Grief steals our remembering that this life is so very short in comparison to our eternal home and the eternal moments together.
I find my own familiar thoughts wandering through fear. Down the paths of doubt and frustration and anticipated loss. The creation of moments not yet come. Of my Ryan moving on to Jesus. The days of weakness are here. The energy to walk diminishing. The muscles of solid legs and disabled ankles failing. Crawling is becoming his preferred mode of getting here and there in our home more than I want to admit. To see the redness and blisters because of weakening legs is heart wrenching. Plastic, man made braces can only do so much to support weakened legs trying to support and stable a growing body. My heart fears the coming tomorrows and how much more will be stolen. Watching my boy eat has become a stress. Hovering over a possible choking spell, waiting for repeated swallowing to get the food down, making sure the bites are small, the pieces soft. The movement of the large intestine is gone. Fear of losing that movement in the throat is fierce. The curving of the spine and drooping head are constant reminders of fading. And the all too familiar seizures are relentless. My heart can hardly contain the sorrow as the grief I fervently try to diminish comes creeping up. It bubbles and breaks the peace in our home. Yet in the fading health and feeble body is a strength of character, a beauty of God’s glory wrapped in the shell of a deeply broken, beautifully loved, unwaveringly accepted little boy whom I am privileged to call my son. No matter the number of his days, no matter the span of moments from here to Jesus, he will be cared for, wrapped in kisses, cherished in laughter and assurances of love. The remembering of God determining Ryan’s steps with the hope of eternity because of salvation is enough. Enough to keep me moving. To grasp hope. To hang on to the goodness of today.
Life is fragile. Much too fragile. The beauty is in the grace of our moments together, cherishing love and living as if ever day were our last together. None of us is promised tomorrow. Not Blake, not Ryan, not any of us. Yet our Heaven is coming. Praise God for good things to come!