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Courage

Last night I shared a few hours with (mostly) women whom I have known since my oldest child stared Catholic school. Our shared children will be seniors in high school next year. We gathered last night to remember one of the boy’s older brother who died last year from an accidental gun shot wound. The horror that we all felt last year and the swift termination of a sweet and tender young man on the cusp of being more was made fresh last night. I drove through the dark two lane roads leaving their intimate neighborhood and thought, “I do not possess this kind of courage.” I watched his mother Christine and his father Dave gather with friends, drink sangria, eat Mexican food, play ping pong and casually enjoy the meanderings of the younger brother and all of their peers around the house and patio. Last year I was truly bereft, weeping on an instant, bent in half with gut wrenching grief….and it wasn’t even my son. I watched Christine with a mixture of fear and awe. I wondered how she could possibly be holding it together. Her grace and composure can only be explained by the Hand of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. She was not alone. And I imagine this last year she has not been alone. I have wondered, and last night I pondered it heavily as I drove the 15 miles home…..how do you get up in the morning? How do you do laundry, grocery shop, cut your own hair, pay bills? I would have been incapacitated losing either of my sons. I stood at the cemetery last year and gasped for breath…I cry now as I type this, the grief as fresh and poignant as last May….I stood at the cemetery and wondered how in God’s name could I put my child in a box, put that box in the ground, cover it with dirt and then go about life and living. It sounds horrible and morbid and I fixated on this with an intensity and a fascination quite disturbing. I was shushed by several friends and my ex-husband when I asked, “How do you put your child in the ground?” I wasn’t trying to be shocking. I was absolutely serious. How? How is it possible? How can you do that and then be expected to ever do anything else. I would have been worthless. A year later, I would still be worthless. I think. Except, I watched with adoration and admiration as these courageous parents. How brave. To have a truly courageous heart, to trust in the Lord and to surrender to Him and whatever His plan is. I am sure there were angry moments, fist shaking and rage at the heavens. The eternal question, “Why me? Why MY son?” My heart has been so heavy today and yet uplifted by the example of these deeply wounded yet undeniably brave souls. I am not a close friend of Christine yet when I hugged her last night I said, without hesitation what was in my heart, “I love you.” It must have sounded so unnatural and unexpected coming from a mere acquaintance, but it was the truth in my heart. I do love her and her husband David and I hold their sorrow close to my heart and I will walk along their path for as long as they need company. And so I went to their home with a jar of honey and I ate a cupcake and I talked about simple things. And then I drove home in the dark, alone, toward my two sons in our house in the country and I wept. I pray I am never tested in such a way and yet I also pray that if I am….I will have courage.

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