I love the coming of each new year! As December rolls to an end I begin to mentally list my "resolutions" that rarely come to pass. Rarely because I set my expectations too high. I was a bit more reasonable this year and decided if I keep up with devotions, housework, family and homeschool, I am Superwoman! :-) As January 1, 2009 quickly approached, little did I know what life changing event would unfold. . .
In three weeks, we went from chatting at this very table, laughing at YouTube
videos, talking about future plans. . .
to shivering with cold and grief at the edge of a pond in NC.
I think I would have preferred this new year to go away! I hadn't wanted a resolution that stated, "To learn to cope with unbelievable grief over losing friends in a tragic (and seemingly senseless) accident." But as time has continued at its own pace, reality has tried to find a home as well. I have a little spot in my living room that I call my "reality spot." It was on January 9th as Troy was walking out the door that I informed him the dishwasher had been leaking water and some of the living room carpet was now stained. It was a bummer at the time as I wasn't sure where the money for new carpet would be found. Within an hour, Troy called to tell me of the accident. . .the carpet no longer seemed like a big deal.
I recall thinking that Brent would love to trade places with me at that point. Who cares about a little water stain if your family is alive! I think that was lesson #1. In the big scheme of things, most things are little.
When I start feeling the pressure mount, I walk by my reality spot in the living room. As one of my friends said to me years ago, "If your problems can be fixed with money, consider yourself fortunate."
I still struggle with seeing pictures of the Biggers and now my house has numerous items that belonged to them. Part of me had a hard time thinking of any ole John or Joe ending up with their possessions, and I wanted to keep all of them and build myself a little shrine to them. (I know - sometimes I am just way too loyal. :-) I went to their house twice to pick up a few items and purchase others. My pact to never allow my kids to have another stuffed animal quickly went out the door as I brought home a few that belonged to Caroline and Anthony. I love watching Silas waddle around holding Caroline's little kitty and saying "Awww," as he hugs it. With as much as she liked Silas, I think she would be pleased.
I have constant reminders of Tricia as I pass one of her pictures in my hall.
The tin with berries that used to be in front of their fireplace now sits by one of my trees.
And it causes my mind to think of them.
The loveseat that once graced their living room now resides in mine,
and I remember Patricia many, many, many times as I sit on it. I think of how she was ready to die. Lesson #2 - You have to live the way you want to die.
Shortly after the accident I was chatting with another friend who remarked that she didn't think Patricia would have changed anything about the way she lived as a wife or mother had she known how short her life would be. You can't bank on what you'd like to do or be
or what you should do or be
as your time may be shorter than you imagine. I believe there are people who wondered at the sanity of Troy and me as I stayed home with the boys while he was in grad school. Financially it would have been much easier if I had worked, but it is totally against my nature to let someone else raise my kids. Well, school is done, we have no school bill or debt
, and God has miraculously provided for our needs. I also have no regrets! Just like Patricia, I want to live the way I want to die!
I was given Patricia's homeschooling materials, and talk about crying. . . You should have seen me go through that stuff! Reading Caroline's papers and seeing how Patricia planned things was a bit difficult but special. The stark reality of the situation hit me as I was perusing her latest homeschool planner, and the last entry was January 9, 2009. The rest of the book is empty. Lesson #3 hit me - live each day like it is your last - you never know what a day holds. How many times have I heard that?! It was a great tool as I showed my boys how the Biggers had no idea when they got up that morning that three of them would be in Heaven by the next day. I tried to burn it into their souls not to take chances with spirituality!
Lesson #4 - When it comes to your mind, tell people how you feel about them as you never know if it will be your last opportunity. December 21st was the last time Patricia and I chatted in person. It was after the Children's Christmas program, and I gave her some compliments. I am so thankful I took the time to tell her when I had the chance. She obviously didn't need my compliments for long, but it did my heart good to know that I had expressed myself. I also wanted to write a letter to Brent, and I got it finished just days before his earthly journey ended. . . I had no clue it was to be my last contact with him either. I have learned (lesson #5) to never take my family or friends for granted. Keep the big picture in mind of how little time we really have together and make the most of it! Don't stay sidetracked with the minor differences; it could be a regret you would suffer if your loved one was suddenly snuffed from you. Another thought that has been burned onto my soul is (lesson #6) what will my children remember about me if I was suddenly gone? Have I taken the time to teach them the principles I want them to know, do they realize how much I love them, am I stressing what is important. . . I have been taking some deep looks into my soul for these answers. . .and made some changes!
My human desire is to never face such sudden deaths again in my lifetime. To never have to see another friend face the anguish we saw Brent meet. To never re-experience the pain I have felt in my heart. But those are human desires, and I do not have control of another's future. . . For now, I will just have to hug my family and friends a little closer and remember the lessons.
And keep dreaming about heaven as the Biggers have brought it so close to me. It was always so far away, but now it somehow seems right next door! Heaven was the place where my dear grandparents went - the place where older people are supposed to go. It now is the place where my friend who is younger than me found her eternal rest and somehow that makes it seem more real. I miss them very much, and my heart aches for their immediate families. Yes, I still have lots of tears, but I cry With Hope!