As a child a year seemed never-ending. Life itself seemed like it would go on for an eternity. Tragedy happens to others, it won’t happen to me. Sweet deception. The truth is a year goes by rapidly, never slowing down to allow you to catch your breath. Life on earth is merely a fraction of a second compared to eternity. And tragedy? Well, it doesn’t happen to everyone, but to more people than you can imagine.
One year ago, today I lost both my parents in a house fire. I remember the police telling me that a witness had seen my dad come out of the burning house only to run back in to find my mom. Of course he went back in. True love. An incredible example of what it means to love someone else more than yourself. I’m grateful for his example and proud of the man he was.
Often my mind goes to the confusion they must have been in when they woke up in the middle of the night to be surrounded by smoke and flames. How terrified they must have been. What a horrible way to go. How I wish they could have had a more peaceful death. These thoughts lead me to the conclusion that in everything there is a purpose. Even death itself has a purpose. Everything, no matter how difficult it is to grasp, points to God and glorifies Him. In my pain it’s hard to see it, but I am convinced that God has a plan and a purpose for all of this.
It’s been a year of many adjustments. I lost my best friend when my mom died. She was the only person in the world with whom I could share EVERYTHING. I would often choose to stay home and watch a movie with her rather than go out with my friends. She was the best grandma in the world, my most trusted babysitter. I always felt so blessed that my children would have her there, an amazing woman to look up to and to model. She always inspired me to be a great mom, to devote myself to the children God graciously placed into my arms. I still can’t imagine what life is going to be like without her. She is still very much alive in my heart and in my mind.
As annoying as dad’s jokes could be, I miss them now. He was such a jolly fellow. My fondest memories of him are from our camping trips. Putting up the tent, hiking, barbequing, reading books, swimming, getting cappuccinos at the campground bar in the afternoons and dad telling scary stories in the tent at night when it was dark and spooky. The best part of camping, especially when we were kids, was hiking up the mountain, in the dark with our flashlights and the light of the moon, laying down a blanket in an open field and looking up at the stars. Dad would tell us what each constellation was. He was full of knowledge, not just of stars, but of God and life. I was looking forward to my son growing up with such an amazing and fun grandpa. They were so close, the best buds ever.
Through this great loss I have learned much. That emotional pain is also physical. That you can laugh even in times of sorrow. There are many people willing to share your pain if you simply let them in. It’s okay to ask for help. Taking care of yourself is nothing to feel guilty about. Life is too short, so be the best that you can be while you are still here. PRAY. LOVE. HOPE. Don’t turn to God as your last resort, make Him your first option. People move on. God made us resilient. Life keeps going.
The sting in my heart is still there, as piercing as the moment I found out my parents were gone. I can still hear the scream that came out of my mouth. Apparently, it will lessen with time. I don’t know, I haven’t gotten to that point yet. I feel them near me. My thoughts are often on them, wondering what they are doing right now. Wondering what they can see, hear and feel up in that heavenly place.
Mom. Dad. I miss you. I always will. So many things in my life will never be the same because you were a huge part of my life. I pray that I will have that same special bond with my children as I had with you. Making memories every day. Living as though each day were our last.
This experience has changed me forever. Some might think it negative, but I honestly believe that it has been a positive change. My mind has been opened to a whole new world. I see things differently now. Tragedy has a way of shaking up your world and you can either face the challenge, or run and hide, looking for safety. I’ve chosen to face the challenge, to look the beast in the eye and say with complete calmness and confidence:
You can’t pull me down, what is in me is far greater than any flame you spit my way!
2 Samuel 22