"For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you may know the love which I have especially for you."
2 Corinthians 2:4
"...He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, You also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many."
2 Corinthians 1:10b -11
We left High Point around 4:20 pm, it's now 10:55 pm as I begin tapping out this post on the keyboard.
We said our final goodbyes and then hit the road to head home from High Point. It's a long ride, so we decided to fill up before leaving town. We stopped for gas as the Wilco on Main Street. Everyone went inside to prepare for the long ride. (i.e. Go to the restroom!)
I grabbed a water and turn around to see Braden hidden behind a coke display beginning to cry - really, really cry. Squeezing his eyes shut trying not to show his emotion, he couldn't help himself. The flood was coming. Sudden. Unexpected. He buckled his body into me.
Holding him close, I asked what was wrong and he cried out, "I don't want to leave! I don't want to leave!" he sobbed into my shirt. (We weren't even out of High Point yet.)
"You don't want to leave High Point or America?" I asked.
"I don't want to leave everybody here. We're leaving everybody." he choked out.
"Oh Honey. It's alright. Shhh. It's alright. I'm so sorry this hurts so much. Shhh... It's okay"
It took several minutes for Braden to calm down before we could return to the van. The waves come so unexpectedly. How is an 8 year old to work through all he's feeling?
Several hours later, we stopped again. Franklin accidentally spilled a drink on a sketch he'd been working on for me for Mother's Day. He had completed most of it, and it was beautiful - a landscapes with a path surrounded by a leaned fence leading into the mountains. The drawing was probably the best he'd done of a landscape. He'd titled it, "The Journey." He's been working on it for weeks. For me.
Because of the coke spill, he immediately crumpled up the picture and screamed out, "It's ruined!" With the wad in his hands, he beelined for the trashcan. Tears coming.
"NOOOOO!!!" I screamed. "Give it to me. It was to be a gift for me. DO NOT THROW IT AWAY."
"But it's ruined." Franklin said through tears.
I held the gift my hands and tenderly tried to pull apart the wrinkles without tearing the wet paper.
"Franklin, I am so sorry. Please let me keep this. Right now, this flattened out piece of paper with a spilled drink on it is a picture of our journey. Nothing has been what we've expected, but God is working everything out for His good. Oh, Franklin I am so sorry. You have worked so hard on this. I know how special this is to you. It's so beautiful, and I will cherish it. You see the coke, and I only see your drawing. I'm so sorry. It's going to be okay. It's going to be okay."
More comforting from mom and dad. More frustration from Franklin over losing something he'd worked so hard on. (For those of you don't know, Franklin is an avid artist and his drawings are very important to him.) He battled anger and emotion silently in the back of the van once we started back on the road.
After another hour of travel, we heard commotion in the backseat.
"Mom," Mason cried out, "Godwin just spilled his apple juice all over Franklin's sketch book!"
I looked back to see something I NEVER see. Franklin was bawling in the backseat. Wrenching sobs. His sketchbook is another appendage to his body. He's never without it. I think this book is his most treasured possession. So much of his heart is drawn on the pages.
Reid pulled the van over in the darkness. It was time to love on our son(s). We needed stop and comfort them. Reid held Franklin's sobbing body while I tried to dry off the sketchbook. Thankfully, the damage was minimal. I assured him we would salvage everything. Most of his drawings had been completely protected. Those that were wet, were dry wherever his pencil had touched the paper. I hugged Franklin tightly and he leaned in to me with a defeated, desolate, disappointed look in his eyes.
Once Franklin could assess that the damage wasn't as bad as he thought, he calmed down. He had to be shown how we could fix the wet edges and reassured that everything was NOT ruined. It would be okay. We would be okay.
Franklin had just enjoyed a weekend with some of his closest friends on earth, and he'd left them. Internally, he is processing so much, and these reactions are not typical. Overreactions are coming frequently because we are all processing so much. Tears spring from no where - triggered by the most unexpected things.
Another small event in the car for Mason caused us to pray and cry out to God on the drive home. As a family, we prayed together asking for God's help!
When we arrived home to my parents' house (where we are living now), understanding hit me.
I've been wondering why this doesn't seem as hard for other people. Why doesn't everyone else feel this as deeply as we do? How come others are not as emotional as we are?
I realized our friends and family are dealing with the loss of one friend or one family - us. That is hard.
We are dealing with the loss of EVERY SINGLE FRIEND AND EVERY SINGLE FAMILY MEMBER outside our immediate family. E-V-E-R-Y S-I-N-G-L-E O-N-E. That is HUGE!
Not to mention leaving everything else familiar. And, we are saying goodbye to every person. Over and over.
For some reason, I'd never realized the magnitude of what we are processing right now.
Trying to check a pulse on each son, I asked Weston, "How are you doing with us leaving?"
"Okay. On a scale of 1-10 with a 10 being, I'm doing horrible, I can't stop thinking about it, I want to cry all the time. I really sad about it constantly. And 1 being - I'm okay. What's the big deal? I never think about it. How would you score yourself?"
Weston looked at me fighting back tears, "Seven..." (Long Pause) "Point five."
I hugged him. "It will be okay. It will be okay." What else could I say?
We will be okay. I must trust in the God who will make it all okay! I must believe it!
(Just so you know, I am crying often - a minimum of 2-3 times daily now and I would have chosen the number 8. Weston is only doing ".5" better than his mom. Oh friends, please pray for us!)
Mason was slumped on the couch - another rare sight. "Are you doing okay, Mason?" I asked sitting next to him.
Then he said this...
"Mom, ya know, I can leave air conditioning and clean water out of the faucet. I can leave hot showers, I can leave smooth roads. I leave the comforts we have here, but it's the people. It's the people I don't want to leave. The people are what makes this so hard"
(Me either, Mason. I don't want to leave them either, and that is not selfish. That is honesty. To leave those we deeply love must be done as a sacrifice of praise. Leaving those we love is a gift we must willingly, but painfully place at the altar. Every day, we must now place it painfully on the altar over and over again as we continually repeat our goodbyes. It hurts. It's so hard...)
"Me too, Mason. I understand. Mason, what can dad and I do to make this easier for you?"
"You and dad don't need anything else to do."
(But we are the parents! We are supposed to make this okay for our children! How can we do that? Not only am I trying to cope with my own emotions of grief, but I need to nurture my sons in their pain. I need to meet them where they are too. How can I do that adequately? Please help me, Lord. Sometimes I don't know what to say or do to comfort them. I feel so helpless. Help us, Lord.)
Mason, Franklin and I talked for a few more minutes then headed downstairs.
Since all the boys are in one room, goodnight time is always family time. Tonight as we prayed, our hearts were poured out before God. Reid prayed for us during this season of grieving, covering our family with his spiritual leadership. Reid does this amazingly. Then Reid asked God to help our family continue living our family motto - to "Be a blessing." In the midst of these emotions, tears, and pain, Reid prayed that our family would "in some small way be a blessing to others." He prayed that we could continue "loving as Jesus loved" with all that we are. He prayed for strength for us to "see the needs of others before our own."
Lord, please help us in the coming days. We are desperate for you.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you...
Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,8
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
We have set our HOPE on Christ alone.
We have set our HOPE on Christ alone.