The touch of leather

And He reached out His hand and touched him.  Matthew 8:3

This post is dedicated to all my dear readers who understand the value of “stuff” that once belonged to a beloved someone we have been forced to say goodbye to, but keep them tucked forever in our hearts. Maybe you decorated the mantel or the shelves in a curio cabinet or keep their room just as they left it or you know where the boxes are stored. It matters. Their stuff matters. I have my son’s billfold. It represents his life.

Contents represents life

The pulse of life

I am drawn to leather ~ good quality leather with its rich aroma and  smooth touch. Lest this sound like a description of a leather skirt or pants, let me hasten to add that I would never qualify to wear leather on any place on my body other than my feet, but I love leather purses, leather Bibles, leather seats . . . and  my son’s leather billfold.

It’s just a thing. And not a very big thing, but it holds notes, a little money and his identity. Other than our photos, it is all that remains to remind me that my firstborn once had a life.

Just like mail. Does anyone get excited about getting mail? Remember the movie with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail”? Both could hardly wait to get home, hit the power button, wait for the computer to warm up and then the magical voice, “you’ve got mail!” Be it the rarity of snail mail or the frequency of tweets and texts, who does not relish the exchange of words with those we care about?

Mail, like my son’s billfold, contain words that imply life. He once had a very busy, fulfilling, successful life ~ or so we thought. He had an address where he got mail. After his death, all future mail was transferred to us and still it comes. The latest is a Subaru car sales advertisement ~ advertising their product, encouraging him to “come in and take a test-drive in the all-new 2014 Subaru Forester 2.OXT with a 250=hp turbocharged Subaru Boxer engine.”

Of course they have no idea that he is no longer on Earth’s radar screen, but for his mom it is a painful reminder that he is not here. I wish he were here and perhaps take a test drive and tell us all about the new Subaru, or share his excitement over new changes in his life fulfilling his dreams. But it’s not so. Like your precious person(s) you have lost to death, we wish they were still here with us enjoying life.

In our grief journey when we are able to process our child’s life, we realize that with hindsight comes clarity. We are unable to see the future or we would do everything in our power to keep every one of our children safe. But we have little foresight or I would have realized the amount of pain my son was carrying. Depression leads to bleakness and frantic darkness and excruciating pain of mind and heart. I can’t begin to comprehend what he went through before he made the decision which changed our lives forever.

My questions will get answered one day and so will yours. God has promised to wipe away all tears which suggests to me that he will reach out and touch our faces and wrap us in a hug for the first time. There will be conversation and explanations too, don’t you think? Perhaps when I see my son’s face with his cute grin and little chuckle I will forget I ever had questions. But for now all I have is a billfold to remind me of the years I had his sweet presence in my life. I would gladly trade a piece of leather for the touch of his hand . . . soon, may it be very soon.

He will wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of that has gone forever.  Revelation 21:4, TLB

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13 thoughts on “The touch of leather

  1. Your last two paragraphs totally summarize my thoughts and feelings about my son’s suicide. It tortures my thoughts, but the hope he had, I also have. I picture heaven as described in Hebrews 12:22-24. He can not come to me, but someday I will go to him. Priscilla

    • Priscilla, another great promise is Revelation 21:2-6 where it says, “2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Now God’s presence is with people, and he will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them and will be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain, because all the old ways are gone.” 5 The One who was sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this, because these words are true and can be trusted.” 6 The One on the throne said to me, “It is finished.” Thank you for sharing, friend. Please be not tortured in your thoughts. Be at peace for he is suffering no more. We have hope because we read the promises in God’s Word; in Hebrews, in Revelation, in many places. God is faithful. It is hard to focus on Him when the devil is working so hard to turn us all against Him and murdering our children gives us great pain and great doubt in God, who most of the time takes the blame. Since my son’s death I want truth only. Anything man touches may have bits of truth but much error sprinkled in. That is the enemy’s way, mix truth with error so that we cannot see what he has done. So let’s be faithful to God and trust in His promises and soon we will be in the arms of our children again and this time forever! Blessings and keep in touch. I’d like that. Gracie

      • Here’s another text, Priscilla, found while I was scrolling for another: Rich promise, don’t you agree? So the ransomed of the Lord shall return, And come to Zion with singing, With everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness; Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 51:11 Be comforted, my friend. ~G

      • Yes, and I know that God could have prevented my son from going through with it (and may in fact have prevented him from doing so in the past). I believe that He has specific reasons for allowing my son’s anxiety, depression, and other disorders to bring an end to his life. Everyone dies of something, although most of them not at 21. But God has a plan and furthermore he works everything for the good of those who love Him (and even those who don’t, I think).

        In 11th grade, my son wrote an essay for an English assignment titled “This I Believe: Jesus Can Give Anyone a Completely New Identity.” A year or so before his death, he was throwing out some stuff and I found a draft of it in his trashcan. It not only left not a shadow of a doubt that he was saved, but also that he was ready to meet God whenever his time was up. I thought it was reassuring and kept it. At the time of his death I not only had it but was able to find it immediately. When I re-read it, there was suddenly so much more significance. God uses it to give me peace whenever I think of it. If you’d like, I wouldn’t mind sharing it with you.

        pp

      • Thank you for sharing your story with me, Priscilla. I know how hard it is to get the words out, but when we do there is something peaceful about it. I’m glad you have a special letter to read over and over. I am so sorry you lost your son. It is not an easy journey and I share words with grievers because we hunger for them, don’t you think? God is in charge of my blog. He knows I am nothing but a cracked pot, but he knows what others need to hear and we are both blessed. I would love to have you share your letter with me if you like. Blessings, Gracie

      • This is Josh’s essay:

        Josh Partridge English III GT/AP (8)

        This I Believe: Jesus can give anyone a completely new identity

        In my childhood, I debated about whether to side with God or Satan. Satan’s side more immediately appealed to me as a strong-willed child; I could do whatever I liked without all that goody religion stuff dragging me down. I ended up allying with God, since I wanted to win even more than to have fun, but that memory stuck with me, and still scares me somewhat. Throughout my childhood, everything revolved around me.
        Nearly every summer since moving up into the youth group at my church, I’ve attended the summer camps. One particular year it completely rerouted my life. I’d heard about God’s “Holy Spirit” speaking, “moving,” or generally just profoundly affecting people. I never really understood this until it happened to me at that camp. The camp itself didn’t turn out significantly different and the speaker didn’t have astonishing talent. But during the message, everything I’d heard growing up in church fell into place. The fact that God designed me individually, for a purpose, and loved me enough to send his perfect Son (God, but also a distinct person – incomprehensible, but He’s infinite and outside of time and space) to his creation, specifically to take the punishment I deserved, suddenly struck me.
        I’d often heard that if only one human lived on Earth, Jesus still would have died for him or her, and because of his infinite nature, he could save an infinite number of people. The crowd watched his execution gleefully. They absolutely hated him. Jesus responded with so much love, with becoming a sacrifice, with a return after a few days and a gift for his murderers: the gift of the Holy Spirit (the third person of the trinity that God expressed himself as), an eternal life with him.
        My simple prayer consisted of acknowledging my sins and that my decisions declared my choice to live without God, to play master of my life. (On death, he would accept this choice, and I would get a space completely separate from Him, called “Hell,” an eternal death.) However, the sinless Jesus died for me, and returned to mediate between me and his Father. I simply repented and accepted his gift, “crucifying” my own will. Now when God looks at me, He doesn’t see all my sins. Past, present and future—all are forgiven. He looks at me and sees his own son. This transcends just “legal” adoption. The Holy Spirit seems like a DNA transplant; it changed my very nature.
        “Lost” people, people that live without this relationship, never understand this part. I didn’t either; the idea of having someone living in me just seemed weird. Now, I consider it my greatest asset—it modifies my worldview. As I’ve grown as a Christian, I’ve increasingly seen people more as God sees them: dearly loved, but in rebellion. The Spirit also augments my conscience: I’m still tempted, but I can no longer allow a sin to run rampant in my life. Whenever I do something that saddens God, it also offends me (why would I dare to betray my savior) and He helps me conquer the issue. I also now have a peace, an unnatural, illogical and unexplainable peace, that I can call to whenever life throws something crazy at me. Basically, I did absolutely nothing to earn salvation; I just humbled and gave myself, and asked for forgiveness.
        I once dreamed about stepping into an elevator. Suddenly, I realized with dream-certainty that the cables balanced the elevator, but nothing secured them. The sensation of free-fall affirmed my early death. The interruption made me slightly cross about the timing of my death for just a moment, but I actually felt no fear. I didn’t have long to think, but no regrets came to mind. I just thought “OK, God, you call the shots. Guess it’s time to come live with you.” I woke up just before it hit the bottom. After a second of surprise and slight disappointment, I quickly readjusted to the idea of living out God’s plan for another sixty or so years.
        This relationship radically changed my mindset and contrasted my self-centered and materialistic attitude of only a few years ago. This I believe: This kind of transformation exceeds the usual maturing of adolescence; testifies to my change of identity when I bowed my own will to God’s and handed over my life.

        This was read at Josh’s funeral and also printed in the program. It is my prayer that his words will be used to reach his unsaved friends and teachers who attended his funeral and read his Facebook page. He had a really hard time speaking up to share his faith in life, but maybe his words can still be used to reach them now. -pp

      • Priscilla, I have no words. Your young man understood more than many adults about God and His great Love for all His kids. I can see why you share it. Only God knows how many lives will be turned around by Josh’s words. It is so sad to think that he took his life. I had clues. Did you? But hindsight is 20/20 and that is where clues that didn’t make much sense at the time, make more sense now. If you would like to write me at my ministry em, I will elaborate more. (impossiblejoy@yahoo.com) God will continue to use our voices to make a difference. Reaching out to help another helps me cope. Do you find that true as well? Hope to hear from you at the source above. Blessings, Gracie

  2. I have kept my sons things. He made a mic stand out of deer antlers only two days before he took his life. I don’t think he thought he would die. He had plugged his phone in, and filled his e-cigarette. I think he thought (or hoped) we would find him in time. But we didn’t and now he’s gone. What I would give for a hug. But I still have his “things”. I keep in pillow case in a ziplock bag in my nightstand. I had a son, and he was real. He lived. I miss him so.

    • Oh Teri, I hear the ache, feel your pain. It is wretched that we have to continue without them present in our lives. The stuff they surrounded themselves with is now precious memories, treasures to keep. He was real and perhaps he had not intended to die. Be in hope that he will one day be real again and this time nothing will ever separate you from him! In His grip, Gracie

  3. So incredibly true. thank you for posting this.. i have both my sons’ billfolds and their things that mattered to them and to me… their stuff i can TOUCH.. its tangible.. i have many beautiful memories of their amazing lives but, i can smell, hold and see them with their ‘stuff’ .. i will treasure it always.. Blessings to all of us who have lost those we love too soon.. ❤

    • You are welcome. Thank you for taking the time to read and find it truthful. Two sons. Two billfolds. Means you mourn twice and I am so sorry for your losses. It seems the process after death goes by far too quickly and then they are gone from our sight forever. As I look back over the years, I wish I had asked for an instant replay or more time, but there will come a day when time is up and Jesus will return and we will forever be with our loved ones again. Time will be no more. Eternity is made up of millions upon millions of years! Forever is a word rich with hope. Blessings, Gracie

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