Archive | November 2015

A song for my heart


“Sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts.” Ephesians 5:19 GNT

I was in the throes of deep grief, having lost my firstborn son to suicide just a few months before. Fall colors were in full swing. Everyone but me, it seemed, was eagerly anticipating family gatherings for Thanksgiving. How could any holiday be a reason to celebrate ever again? I could not yet accept the reality that one chair would always be empty.

I wasn’t the only one on a grief journey. My husband lost his son. My “baby” lost his older brother. Extended family lost a nephew and grandson. I was slowly learning that we cannot combine our grief. We each have a unique loss and must walk our grief journey in the solitude of the heart.

It was a break from the heaviness of grief when my youngest came from the deep South to spend a weekend with us. We were delighted. It was good see him. He had just relocated before his brother died, and hadn’t started his new job when he got the tragic news. When he returned home to begin his job, we knew he would have to “hit the ground running,” since he was already behind schedule before his first day. We were eager to find out how he liked his new position and the new life he was carving out for himself.

Being a weekend, we went to church as is our custom. My son came with us. It warmed my heart to look down the pew at his face smiling back at me. Never mind the flip flops, so commonly worn year around in his beach-y state, and so different from the sturdy shoes we wear up North as summer gives way to fall. Seeing flip flops on his feet made me smile.

It seemed rather strange behavior when our son pointed to his dad’s shoe, and mimed his desire for his dad to remove his shoe and pass it down to him. Dad complied. Son tried on the shoe, checked the fit, then took it off and handed it back. Was this a new ritual he had picked up down South? It was odd behavior, but we were in church. I could satisfy my curiosity with a question about it later.

When it was time for special music, I was curious as to why my son stood up, walked to the end of the pew, and strode up front in his flip flops. What was happening? When he took the microphone and background music began to play, it all became clear why he had driven all those miles. My son had traveled such a long way to see us and gift his mother with a special song, sung just for me.

I don’t even remember the name of the song he sang. I was caught between choking back sobs and smiling from ear to ear. My son, without many words about losing his brother, was singing his heart out to God and to me. He was undoubtedly pouring out his love for us, as well as his love for his brother and the pain of losing him.

I pause while writing this post to say that words can be frustratingly inadequate. I’ve never felt it more than I do right now. How can I express my deep love and appreciation for my son who chose to gift me with a song? Sung from deep within his heart, he gave me joy and soothed the ever-present sorrow. Through my tears, I felt his love, and I know I will cherish this special memory for the rest of my life. When it comes to mind that he rarely speaks of his brother, I will remember how he expressed his emotions so beautifully so soon after our tragic loss.

We all miss our son and brother terribly, and we look forward to seeing him again. This time he will be all brand new; we all will be brand new. On that day, we will lift up our voices and sing with thankful, joy-filled hearts to God. What a grand reunion!

“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.”  Psalm 63:7 NIV

PS – Perhaps I should explain the shoe test, in case you are still wondering. My son was nicely dressed . . . from ankles up. Sitting in the pew looking at his feet, probably reminded him, “Oh, I forgot to pack dress shoes.” His dad has smaller feet, but apparently he thought it was worth a try. Watching him “flip flop” up the aisle, probably to the amusement of others, makes the memory all the sweeter.



This entry was posted on November 20, 2015. 2 Comments

Falling leaves . . . Falling tears


Where I live, we have distinct seasons four times a year. The fall season is one of my favorites. The trees begin to change their wardrobe from summer greens to yellows, oranges, and all the lovely shades of red. Add in bright sunshine and clear blue skies ~ what’s not to love? Even though winter is waiting in the wings, the crisp freshness of Indian summer makes it seem far away. All too soon the bright colors will fade and the leaves will begin to fall . . . which reminds me of our falling tears.

With each autumn season for the past ten years my mind quite naturally goes to a place of sadness. I long for my firstborn, who no longer sees the beauty around us. He loved all the seasons with the exception of falling leaves and here’s why.

The first autumn in our current home found our boys helping their dad rake leaves to either burn or add to the compost pile. Our large back yard was full of towering maples which meant lots of cleanup. During this aching raking workout one of the boys piped up, “Hey, Dad, we’re going to cut down all the trees before next fall, aren’t we?” This question still brings a smile to my face. Back in those days we had two boys at home and both had bright futures, or so we thought. Little did we know that we would outlive our firstborn. He died by suicide sixteen years later.

That first fall after my son had died, I longed to talk with him. My logical mind knew he could not receive mail, but I wrote a letter to him anyway. Whenever my heart was overflowing with yearning, I wrote him a letter. Recently I came across a large envelope. Curious what I could have stored in there, I reached in and pulled out a sheaf of papers. There was my collection of letters that I had written to my son for a year following his death.

The first letter was written during Indian summer ten years ago. It verifies that I have not changed. I still miss him with each beautiful October that passes, and, of course, every other month as well. No doubt you, too, remember special times that foster fond memories. (If it is yet too soon for you to remember good times, don’t be disheartened. They will come. It seems like the mind is totally focused on the bad memories for a time.)

I don’t know if you write letters to your loved one.  I never could have imagined that I would be sharing my private thoughts with my readers, but it seems quite natural to do so, since I have been blogging for several years now. As I picked up my first letter and read it again, it seemed timely to share a portion of it with you. If nothing else, perhaps it will inspire you to write letters of your own. It’s not a useless activity. It’s one of the things we can do to help our healing.

My Dearest Son,

It’s Monday and the coldest day we have had this fall. You are missing the beautiful changes in color brought on by cooler temperatures. The leaves are quickly losing their grip on the branches and swirling in the wind. Your brother has moved south and away from the seasonal changes you both have known all your lives. He will miss snow this winter unless he makes a trip home.

I find myself longing for you. Today we received another memorial gift in your memory. This one is from the school where you received your degree. They remembered you fondly and wanted to honor your memory. So many people loved you and miss you. If only you could have felt that love while you were living. If only . . .

We love you so much, Son. We hurt that all we have left of you are memories. We know we live on borrowed time. None of us knows how many days we have on this earth, but we never expected you to decide to stop living. How could you do that because of a GF, and one who did not appreciate you for the wonderful person you were? I cannot hold anything against her. I cannot have anger towards her eating at me. Whatever part she played in your death, she will undoubtedly suffer with your memory the rest of her life. She was definitely not worth dying for. Maybe you just couldn’t face being lonely again.

We don’t know what you were thinking. How I wish I understood. I know it will all be made plain one day when Jesus returns. As these hope-filled verses say, “On that day, with a command that thunders into the world, with a voice of a chief heavenly messenger, and with a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 VOICE), and when He comes, your precious face is the first one I want to see.  Then all the reasons why you died will seem unimportant. See you soon, my sweet Son.

Love, Mom

For now, dear reader, your tears and mine fall . . . like the autumn leaves. Until Jesus returns, there will be seasons, but each day, each season that passes, we live in the hope of seeing our sons and daughters again, and very soon.

“The Sovereign Lord will destroy death forever! He will wipe away the tears from everyone’s eyes and take away the disgrace his people have suffered throughout the world. The Lord himself has spoken.” Isaiah 25:8 GNT




This entry was posted on November 6, 2015. 2 Comments