On November 24, 2014, we began walking an unimaginable journey. A journey that no parent should ever walk and certainly one for which we could not have prepared. The unexpected and tragic death of our 13-year-old son, Warren, shattered our hearts into a million pieces. Even today, almost seven years later, not a day goes by that we don’t miss him beyond comprehension. There is an ache deep inside our bones that constantly reminds us of all that should be. That day changed the trajectory of our lives, and we will never be the same.
After being in an ATV accident early that Sunday morning, the doctors determined
that he had suffered fatal injuries that were irreversible. We begged God for a miracle. We prayed that God would spare his life and heal his body. We worshiped, we pleaded, and then we said goodbye. I curled up in that hospital bed with my sweet boy, and I played praise music until he took his last breath here on earth and his first in Heaven.
Warren had trusted in Jesus at an early age, so this day, although my worst nightmare, became his most glorious day. Home. Forever, in eternity with his Heavenly Father, where One Day we will see him again.
Faith Over Fear
Following Warren’s death, fear gripped me, and I wondered if I could survive this kind of pain. It was from this place of fear that I fell to my knees, clung to His Word, and trusted with everything in me that Jesus Christ would be enough.
It was here, in the dark night of my soul, that Jesus met me and offered an unexplainable peace that began to carry me through the deep waters of grief.
Not every day did I “feel” this peace, but I can look back now and see the many tangible ways he was providing and strengthening my faith.
Before Warren’s death, I had read the book Choosing To See by Mary Beth Chapman. A true story of courage and hope after the tragic death of their 5-year-old daughter. I kept this book close in those early days because there was something about knowing a real-life story of someone walking a similar path and surviving. I would sit most days with my bible and this book in my lap. Another Momma’s story with the hope of the Gospel kept me grounded when my circumstances threatened to take me down with no relief in sight.
I remember connecting with a mom in our community who had also lost a son two years earlier. It would be a couple of months before we would meet face to face, but God was going to use her and her devastating loss to encourage my weary heart in ways only another mother who “knows” can do. I stalked her Facebook page that November after Warren died. I was so curious who she was and what the death of a child looked like in the lives of real people. Again, I just needed to see it was possible to go on without Warren on this earth. My friend Janell had posted a picture of her and her husband cooking in their kitchen. They were smiling, and they looked happy. Most people probably hit ‘like’ without a single thought. Not me. Seeing an average couple who had also known the unexpected death of a child in the middle of a “normal” activity gave me hope that maybe one day we too would smile and enjoy “normal” life together. Janell is now one of my dearest friends and far from average! After our initial meeting, we met regularly for months. Having Janell walk alongside me has been one of the greatest gifts and most visible ways God has provided. I experienced more healing than I ever thought possible because of her willingness to share her own heart and story of suffering with me.
Knowing I wasn’t alone on this journey brought me a great deal of comfort. Through a group at our church, I was provided a safe place to talk about Warren’s death. It was a small intimate group of moms, each with their own story of loss. Having this group forced me to get dressed, walk out of my house and face other people. I recall walking in for the first time feeling so nervous and vulnerable. My heart was raw and exposed. The searing pain felt unbearable, and yet there was something healing as I listened to others share. I appreciated the uniqueness of each story and the chance to talk about Warren without feeling like everyone around me was uncomfortable. I still refer back to this time as one of God’s sweetest provisions during the most challenging season of my life.
While navigating our new “normal,” I began to practice every day fixing my eyes on Jesus, the only thing true and steady in the middle of so much uncertainty and change.
It was and is the enduring hope of Jesus that has changed everything.
The same God who had allowed my suffering would be the same God to bring a more remarkable healing than I ever thought possible.
He is my hope.
A hope that shouts Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
A hope that does not disappoint.
A hope that is capable of producing an unspeakable joy despite unspeakable loss.
“Biblical hope is absolute confidence in something you haven’t received yet, but you’re absolutely confident that whatever God has said is going to come to pass.” Anne Graham Lotz
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24
Some days this hope looks messy, and my life is not a reflection of what I know in my heart to be true. However, it is those days that hope shows up through friends, a song, a scripture, or a sweet memory of our precious boy.
I don’t have this all figured out, but I am certain of one thing - a day is coming when all sad things will be made untrue, and the most beautiful reunion will take place on the shores of eternity.
“All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover page and the title page: Now, at last, they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever, in which every chapter is better than the one before.”-C.S Lewis