I am sitting here tonight thinking about my boys and how much I miss them. I just got done spending some time with, Paul, who is one of my incredible friends that God has put in our lives. We spent some time sitting on the deck under the beautiful moon that is out tonight discussing the things that God is doing through this road of losing a child we are now on for a second time. There is so much that seems to be going on as a result that it takes some time to process it all, and work through all the thoughts and emotions that are flowing as well.
Losing Jack was such a shock that it took several weeks before I even felt like I came out of the fog of that first day when he died. Even then we weren't really out of the fog, but more coming to grips with the life changing realization that our family was forever changed. It was really once Hayes was born last November, and our family had the joy of new life to focus on, that I really felt like things were entering that new normal that was our family. Hayes was such a blessing and gift from God that it was so evident that God brought him into our lives to bring us through the shock of losing Jack.
For those of you that read this and have lost a child know that feeling of all the plans you have made for your life and family, and how they are completely shattered at this indescribable loss. It is unlike any other pain in the world. Coming home for the first time without your child and knowing that you will never see or hear them within the walls of that house, or realizing that you will never get the opportunity to tuck them into bed, pray with them, and kiss them good night is indescribable. It is as cataclysmic of an event that you can go through as a parent. Seeing your other children as they process the unbelievable fact that their brother is gone. In the case of our son Drew, who was Jack's twin brother and 2 weeks shy of 3 when Jack died, not knowing how to entertain himself while our oldest was at school because he never had been without his constant companion, was heartbreaking to watch. His world was completely turned upside down. Explaining to a 6 and almost 3 year old that their brother died and has gone to heaven to be with Jesus, and we can't go see them is one of the hardest conversations I have ever had to have. It is truly unbelievable and surreal in those moments.
A week ago this last Tuesday, August 21st, when Hayes died the world turned upside down all over again. I remember Jess and I just sitting there as we came to the realization that we had just got done kissing one of our babies goodbye for the last time on this side of eternity, and looking at each other wondering how it was we were in this spot once again. I remember the shear exhaustion that came over me thinking about the next couple of ensuing weeks and all that was coming with them. The conversation with Noah and Drew AGAIN, the sleepless nights, flood of people, flowers, cards, copious amounts of food (which is kind of funny because there is no appetite to go with it), planning of the memorial service, and the list goes on............
There was a huge part of Jess and I that thought we were exempt from ever having to lose a child again. We had lost Jack and truly felt that was the one and only time we would be asked to walk down that road. When lightning struck us this second time, with it came the realization that there is no exemption from the sting of death and loss. After Jack died both of us lost any fear of death or anything that this world could throw at us, but the only thing that we did fear was losing another child. Last Tuesday that fear became all to real.
I say all this because I find myself a week and a half later looking at this with a perspective and attitude that is totally different than what is probably expected of me. I am so incredibly weak and the gaping, smoking hole that is left in the middle of our family is so beyond anything that I, or my wife, am capable of dealing with in and of ourselves. The pain is so real and indescribable that there are no words to even remotely and adequately describe it. I know that so many people don't know what to say to us, but that is okay because we don't know what to say either. The question that is raised then is, how does a person stand up from this and continue to press forward?
I am still working and praying through this, so bear with me, but I can say that my focus and vision has become so much clearer through this. It is probably not unrealistic to expect to not be able to function and move forward very well at all after going through this loss a second time in less than a year and a half. I can tell you that there is nothing within ourselves that is giving us the strength to push on, other than anything but the grace of Almighty God. If it was not for the strength of Christ I would not be able to function at this point.
People have asked if this reliance on God is real for us or is it just our way of coping in these initial weeks after the loss of Hayes. I can answer beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no way to cope with this loss without the divine providence of God. Without the grace that God has shown both Jess and I, we would be utterly lost! Here is what it says in John 14:15-18
15 “If you love Me, keep[a] My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
I can honestly say that I can feel that comfort that only comes from on High filling me to overflowing. For those that wonder if where Jess and I are coming from is real, all that I can say is there is no other option for us in these circumstances. There is absolutely nothing within ourselves that has equipped us for this kind of loss and pain. It is only by the power and grace of a real, and tangible God that I can move forward from this point. God has been so gracious to me beyond what I deserve, that I have no choice but to walk down this path that He has laid before me. I know that God did not cause Jack and Hayes to die, but He knew when they would, and He was right there scooping them into His arms the minute they did.
I was so blessed to call those boys my own for the short time I had them. I know that as hard as this road is, God is right there beside us walking every step of the way. The God I know and serve is not some distant entity who doesn't care, but is a real and loving Father who loves us so much and sacrificed His own son to die for my sins! If the loss of our boys means others will come to that same saving knowledge of Christ, and find the peace that I know my wife and I have in the midst of this unbelievable storm, then I am going to be okay. The loss and sorrow will never go away on this side of eternity, but the grace and peace of God is so much greater and I know it will carry my family through..............
27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said,[e] ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.