This morning the house felt unusually cold for the middle of May. I sat, wrapped in a blanket in the still of the morning, trying to warm up physically as I thought about what this day would hold. If only days like this didn’t have to exist, I thought. If only we didn’t have to attend funerals of those who suddenly died at too young of an age. My mind was groggily processing the emotions that would ensue today as I scrolled through my Facebook feed and there sweet Nicholas’s face was with his mother’s heart-full eulogy… http://www.mumma-love.com/2016/05/12/the-impossible-task-writing-a-eulogy-for-our-four-year-old/ Hot tears streamed down my cheeks as I read his mother’s words. Little Nicholas was just six months older than my Lily and even though his life only unfolded in front of me through his mother’s blog and other social media venues, it was like I knew him. He hasn’t even been gone for two weeks and yet, it’s too long already to not have new cheeky pictures of the bluest eyes and that tow-headed hair. The Down syndrome community is certainly one of the fiercest tight-knit communities I have ever had the privilege of being a part of and losing one of our kiddos is seriously like losing our own. And I admit that I am in the midst of grieving for this beautiful boy and his family like he was my own. I said a prayer for his mummalove to know grace today as she so openly shared her gaping heart with the world. And oh for grace to not feel so thread-bare and broken, I thought as I pulled myself together and prepared for the days events.
Fast forward a few hours, seated in a beautiful and simply decorated neighborhood church. Grieving friends and family filled the room to its capacity-requiring more chairs to be arranged in the back-much to my pleasure. Isn’t it wonderful for the widowed to know and see with her own eyes that her husband’s life had a far greater impact than she anticipated? I observed her stand with such strength and even though she admittedly couldn’t make eye contact with her friends and family before her, she was able to share what she intended to and I marveled. Grace was carrying her in that moment to do what she set out to do. To speak of her husband, his clear love for her, his children and his passion for running and his clear faith in Jesus. Picture after picture played out of a man whose life would be defined by normal life moments: camping, day trips, vacations, sight-seeing, goofy family pictures, holidays, and many races run. I didn’t know her husband personally. I had only met him once when I dropped off my daughters for a birthday sleepover. Today though, I walked away knowing this world had lost a gentle pillar of faith and love. A man dedicated to running the race well, both literally and figuratively.
Today, I also observed another man I know well and respect even more. Twelve years ago, he officiated the funeral service of my very own daughter. I watched him today as he quickly wiped away tears and held himself together to do a pastoral duty I’m sure he hates, but also does with such honor and reverence to those lost and to those who are left bereaved. I am convinced that grace must also carry him during these kinds of days. Listening to his words, I thought back to that fateful day, when as soon as Elly went into cardiac arrest I begged John to “call Blake now.” He was there amongst others in our “village” in what seemed like no time at all. Surely grace carried us all that day as we faced the horrifying truth that our girl was indeed gone.
54 days ago marked a new season in my families lives. I’m not at liberty to share the personal details, nor do I want to. In many ways I feel like I’ve been living someone else’s life. It’s all so surreal. All that needs to be said is, despite all that we’ve been through in the past, this season is a new and different kind of hard. I’ve had to tell myself countless times that I can do this. We can do this. Blake, being fully aware of our current hardship as he has walked through these past 54 days with us, hugged me in reassurance and told me I was a hero. Thanks, Blake but there’s no way I could be touted a hero today and I certainly don’t feel like a hero in this season, that is for sure. I’m being carried by grace after all. Grace gets the credit here.
March 26th, 2000 was the day my mother slipped from this life here on earth and hours after the “business of death” subsided, I picked up my Bible as I walked across the living room and sat down. That’s when I realized a small card had fallen out and I quickly bent over and picked it up off of the carpet. Glancing down, I immediately recognized the card as one that my mom had given me during one of our talks as we sat together on her adjustable hospital bed in our home. She had been sifting through a stack of inspirational cards a friend had given her and when she came across one with white tulips on it, she handed it to me, knowing I would appreciate it. (John had given me white tulips-my favorite-on our first date.) Overlaid on the white tulips read, “grace and peace be yours in abundance.” 2 Peter 1:2 Grace and peace were two things I certainly didn’t feel in that moment. I was really not at peace with my mom being gone. I didn’t feel grace in that moment. I was a mess internally and externally. And then, something happened. I kept reading and what I read could only be explained as God’s evident presence. I felt like the words written in that chapter were words straight from my own mom….
“3His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
10Therefore, my brothers and sisters,a make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
12So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”
Since then, the words “grace and peace” have had a profound effect on my faith. They have indeed carried my questions, the whys, the misunderstandings, all the muddled up and angry questions of why my mom died, despite her great faith. Grace has carried me through the mess. Peace has anchored me in the storms.
One of Blake’s statements today was, when life events happen that make us question “why” and we don’t get answers, we can always look to the promises. Although I still miss her with such intensity, and I still lose sight of understanding why, I know that grace will carry me and peace will anchor me.
You see, I have learned that on days like today, grace is there when we don’t quite have peace and peace will lead us straight into His carrying and unrelenting grace. That’s a promise.