“Lately, I’ve felt no emotion. Like a barren dry desert. Then, tears begin to fall out of nowhere…” Braden’s dad
“Daddy, you think you have it all together. You don’t. You think it will end. But it won’t. You can keep the tears at bay for awhile, but don’t be surprised when they spill over the dam of your own strength. You have a flood of emotion still yet to be felt. Only God can get you through.” – Braden
It’s finally done. The book is published and behind us. The final chapter and epilogue to the story have been written, edited, vetted through at least ten proofs, and placed onto paper for all to read. A year of blogs I never thought I’d write are now pressed permanently between the covers of a book and placed onto a shelf to begin collecting dust. Thank God, it’s over.
Then again, it’s never really “done”.
This “old dog” is learning a lot of new things lately with now recently two different career transitions. Having stepped out of a leadership role just prior to Braden’s death, I have been selected to do yet another completely different job within my company. It keeps me on my toes to develop new skills and to remain my most effective.
I’m also learning some other personal lessons. Mainly, about this strange thing called grief. It’s completely new to me and it has an aspect I never considered possible. Specifically, grieving can be ever-present and never ending.
Of course, it evolves. Our grief today isn’t as intense as it was in the very beginning but still, it is not gone and may likely never be. They say time heals. It’s been fourteen months and time has helped some by presenting distractions of work and life. But time hasn’t done its job well. It hasn’t healed.
Recently, we met with a local school board candidate. Cathy and I wanted to get to know about her background and philosophies regarding education and the need for culture change in our schools. I was listening to her share thoughts about school counseling, teaching, administration, and some initiatives we might be able to consider. However, as the conversation shifted into what BradensVoice’s mission was, I became inwardly emotional.
Our ultimate mission and vision for the non-profit organization we’ve formed is to have a peer-driven suicide awareness/ prevention program in every Texas school within our lifetime. As I shared this vision with our new friend, I became consciously aware that suddenly tears were coming to my eyes for the first time in months. I had to just shut down and collect myself. She never knew, but I did and it felt strange. “What was that about,” I thought.
Later that week, someone asked for a book to be signed and as I scribbled a personal message on the title page, my eyes filled with tears for absolutely no reason. As we watched a movie later that evening no one knew but I had tears rolling down my face out of nowhere. And it was a comedy, no less.
Even as I write this short story this early morning, a flood of tears blur my vision as they fall from my eyes. These are the first tears I’ve experienced in well over two months. This grief thing is a complete mystery to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been around it and have had losses in our family and extended family. Cathy lost both her parents and I was there when her dad died. I’ve mostly watched as others experienced grief, but my wife warned me it would happen some day and I wouldn’t be ready for a devastating loss like this. I have come to know several who have lost a child either through natural causes or by suicide.
One friend, Mike Martin, lost his entire family in a horrific car accident some years ago. I could never imagine the loss of our son and can’t fathom how my friend continued breathing after his entire family was taken in an instant. He and his wife, Penny are an awesome inspiration to us and to many, having not only overcome the tragedy but then moving forward with Christian ministry. How does that even make sense?
As cliche as it sounds, I suppose it has to do with God allowing bad things to happen which offers us each an opportunity to wither or to grow in our faith. That’s what my friend would tell me. And he should know more than anyone. Even after having a new start and a beautiful second family, I’m confident Mike still weeps from his grief, and he always will.
As mentioned, I’m learning new things at work and in life through our experiences and those of friends who have lost loved ones. What I’m learning is no matter how certain our future seems, God’s plan can look entirely different and His new map could arrive at any moment in any of our mailboxes.
I’ve learned that faith, family, and friends are the three most important things in this life. God never wants His children to hurt, but He loves us enough to allow it and to hold us up and dry our tears when we weep. He only wants us to be confirmed that we can’t stand on our own strength and must rely solely upon Him.
I’ve learned that no matter how long or brief our lifespan might be, we have a short time here on this earth and that grief comes with the territory. I’ve learned that tears will come when I least expect them but that God will dry those tears in His everlasting love.
Prayer for Readers
Lord, thank you for being there to dry our tears when we hurt. Thank you for blessings we too often take for granted. Remind us daily of those blessings and allow us to come to you for assurance that this is temporary and You are eternal. We pray for those who need that assurance right this minute as they are in dark places and need your light. We pray in Your Son’s name, Jesus. Amen
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.