I remember looking out my second story window down towards the shed below, my Dad had taken a hammer and was violently pounding the piece of wood on his table. He didn’t know anyone was around and as I secretly watched from my bedroom window, I wept because I’d never seen my Dad so upset before.
He wasn’t fixing anything.
He was releasing.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My brother Ben was the first child born in my family. He became very ill when he was just a tiny baby. He developed meningitis and began seizing. He was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery. There was severe brain damage and as his tiny body laid in a coma in his hospital crib, connected to multiple tubes, the doctors told my parents that if he woke up he would be severely brain damaged and would likely not live very long. Miraculously, Ben woke up from his coma on the eleventh day.
Ben would now be severely brain damaged, blind and physically handicapped. He would never walk or talk or see and he would seizure regularly.
The doctors told my parents that at this point the best possibility for their now disabled child who would likely die very young was to put him in a home and forget they ever had him.
So, they took him home and they loved him.
They learned to feed, bathe and care for him. They learned how to give medications, do physiotherapy, and entered the “disability world”.
My parents had three healthy children after Ben: me, my brother Greg and my youngest brother Josh.
Us kids, we loved Ben.
His loud shouts, smelly diapers, pureed food and consistent seizures were all normal for us.
Ben’s spirit filled our house. Ben would laugh and shout when he heard music, he loved head massages, his favourite food was turkey with cranberries and mashed bananas and he hated being cold and getting his haircut.
When Ben was 19 his health started declining rapidly. We found out that he had been living with a collapsed lung for a year and a half and no one knew, not even his doctors. We knew that Ben was nearing the end of his life; his tired and crooked body had been through so many surgeries and so many seizures.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. I went to the hospital to say goodbye. Ben was sleeping and very heavily medicated but I stood beside him and I whispered to him. I told him how much I loved him and that one day I would see him again.
It was one of those surreal moments. It was like we knew he was going to die and we were waiting and what that can do to you and to your family is indescribable.
I watched from my second story window as my Dad violently pounded the hammer into the wood over and over and over again.
He wasn’t fixing anything.
He was releasing.
Because his son was dying and his family was hurting and he couldn’t do anything to fix it. In that moment I cried out to Jesus because I didn’t know how my family was ever going to be the same.
We were like shattered glass.
The edges cut into the deepest places of us.
Ben went to be with Jesus not long after that.
We celebrated his life and we celebrated because we knew his body was no longer broken; he was free.
And then we grieved.
I didn’t know what grief was. I’d heard the word but I hadn’t lived it and breathed it and despised it. I hadn’t been afraid of it.
Grief feels like an unwelcome guest; you don’t know when it will come, how long it will stay or the havoc it will wreak in your life.
And it changes you.
But the thing is that you get to choose whether you let it make you bitter or you let it make you deeper. By deeper I mean more thankful, more loving & more compassionate.
Sometimes when you lose someone you love it makes you take a hard look at your life. You fear losing someone else you love and so you say I love you more, you hug longer and you think twice about going to sleep angry.
Sometimes you get angry and act bitterly…
And that’s ok,
But don’t stay that way.
Don’t let it take over,
Don’t miss what’s in front of you; the opportunities to use your story, to use your pain because right now someone else is going through it too and they need to hear that it is going to be ok, they need you and your story.
So please, don’t stay that way.
Greif is on its own schedule and sometimes it comes right away and sometimes it comes years later.
My Mom and I began grieving right away. We began looking for special things each week to help us get through those really tough moments. We started creating special things to look forward to.
You have to do these kind of things in those moments. You have to talk it through and cry and laugh.
It’s all ok.
If I could tell you one thing I learned it’s this…
It will get easier….
There will be a day when it doesn’t cross your mind every minute and every hour.
It will get easier to talk about.
You will feel normal again.
It won’t always hurt this bad.
And when you give the shattered pieces of your life and your family to Jesus He will make something beautiful out of it,