Life sometimes meets speed-bumps.
Those little things that tell us to "Slow down!"
We are abruptly reminded that life is best traveled at a pace where we can contemplate turns, adjust our lights properly, and easily stay off the shoulder and out of the ditch.
But there can be much bigger things in the road than speed-bumps. Things so big they alter our course in an instant. There are circumstances that are like coming around a corner at normal speed and finding the road we are on simply isn't anymore. The bridge is out. The mountain has shifted. The forest has burned.
Steering wheel spins without effect.
There was a moment like that this Saturday.
I blithely took my middle child to a play. I laughed. He wiggled.
I left my phone home on the charger.
I missed the text that warned of rocks ahead.
"There has been an accident."
By the time I got home the abyss was open right in front of us.
"We've lost Emma."
The daughter of some of our dear friends was gone.
There is nothing that shakes me as much as seeing the agony parents go through when dealing with the death of a child and in our circle of friends, this has been our portion to witness 3 times in less than nine months.
Tyler, age 20
Rebecca, age 7
Emma, age 13
These names are engraved on my heart like historical markers. They are detailed with memories that keep each sweet face present and alive in my mind in a special way.
Tyler, with his easy-going, friendly manner.
Rebecca, with her unstoppable smile.
Emma, with her motherly-care of every living thing.
These 3 families, whose journeys are forever changed and whose hearts hurt in a way we are sure we could never bear... And we couldn't. Because only God has the strength to carry people through these things. Only He can lift them from the pile of rubble, set them back the right way on the road, and give them direction of where to go from here.
In these dark days they are sifting through the pieces, trying to comprehend, trying to put fragments together into something that makes sense and connects to what they once knew. Their heads are jumbled. Their hearts are shattered. It feels like none of this can possibly real- except the pain, the pain is very, very real.
And their friends?
We wonder how we can help. We feel we lack the words to give comfort. We want to take some of the weight but human strength is not enough. We cry out to Heaven on their behalf and we beg for grace and wisdom to be a help when it seems like nothing could be remotely adequate. We stand together because otherwise we would fall over.
We watch while God does his mighty work.
It makes us ache with sorrow, gratefulness, and awe.
Where do I go from here?
These cliff-top, cannon-edge experiences may shake me beyond measure but they steady me too. When the knee-knocking fear of falling subsides I must find a rock to stand on. The rock that is knowing there is a plan for this journey and there is a destination that is worth all these experiences.
I am left with an overwhelming desire to reassess my route, refocus on my destination, carry on with careful precision, hug my littles in the back-seat and buckle them in with prayer in preparation for the bumpy miles.
I want to turn on a song of love and thankfulness to play constantly while we travel - a song about the one who planned this way with every rest-stop, speed-bump, pot-hole, road-sign, and dead-end put there for a reason. A song of thanks for only showing me a tiny portion of the map, enough to tell me "You are here." and "Keep going."
Note: The particulars about Emma's passing are not mine to tell and I hope you will understand if I don't answer questions here out of respect for her family.
This post is meant only as an account of my own impressions, a glimpse of the impact the death of these 3 precious young people has had on me in recent months, and my personal observations about how we deal with life-changing events in general - because they happen to us all in some form or another.
If you would like to learn more about Tyler or Rebecca you can visit their memorial blogs here.
Our greatest condolences and expressions of love go out to each of these families as they grieve their children.
Please hug your loved ones tightly.