Flashbacks

I’ve never had a lot of pain in my life. That is, pain from someone leaving.In the past year and a half, two people I love passed away, but one was especially dear to my heart. The pain I went through the week my Papaw passed was insurmountable. It compares to no pain I’ve ever felt in my life. It was horrific and terrible. I cried more that week then I ever have in my life. I didn’t just cry, I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably.

No. Life’s not fair. And no, I didn’t think I could get through that week. But I did. With the help of Jesus, family, and my dear friends. But you never really “get over” these things. They stay with you. You carry them forever. I will never forget Papaw and the tremendous impact he had on my life. I made it through that week and thought that the worst was far behind me. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been worse. But there have been some really tough times since then. Times I miss him so much it hurts. I wish I could just call him. Talk to him. Hear his voice. Give him a hug one last time. Tell him how much I love him and miss him. But last week I experienced something worse than just missing him. I experienced a flashback. A flashback that felt like it was all happening over again.

My other granddad was in a horrible motorcycle accident a week ago, Wednesday. After sustaining life-threatening injuries, he was resuscitated and care flighted to the hospital in Tyler. This hospital also happened to be the exact same hospital that we found out Papaw had cancer in. A “good” cancer to have they told us. A “bump in the road” they told us. “Totally manageable” they told us. He was gone within 2 months of that diagnosis. And now my other granddad was there, injured and hurting. And I had to go back. Go back to that dreadful place that started everything. Go past that room we spent thanksgiving in. The last thanksgiving with Papaw. The room that we took our very last family picture he will ever be in. The place that I headed to after I found out about his cancer. As I drove to Tyler Wednesday, I sobbed. I cried out. My vision was blurry as I was driving. I couldn’t stop. I was having a mini panic attack. All I could think was I CANT DO THIS. This CANNOT be happening again. It brought back all of the fears and emotions of that night with a renewed vigor. The night I knew he was dying. The night my mom said come home now. Come see him. The night I said goodbye to him. It all came rushing back. And I couldn’t go back. The memories and pain flooded in. I couldn’t stop it.

Pain. Life is pain. If we had no joy, we would have no pain. It’s those we love, that will hurt us the most. Because when you love someone, they become a part of you, you give them a little piece of your heart. And when they leave it feels like they’re ripping your heart right out. Your very breath. I couldn’t do it again that night. But the good news is that I didn’t have to. And neither do you. Jesus sustains us.

As I drove, sobbing, back to Tyler, I called one of my best friends. She lives out her love for Jesus more than anyone I know. As I talked to her she listened. And then she prayed for me. That I would have the strength to go for my granddad and family who needed me. Immediately I felt calmer. I felt peace. A part of me wanted to live in that pain. Because it reminded me of the life my Papaw lived, and the impact he had on my own life. It’s easier to remember it all when I feel the pain. I feel guilty when I’m not hurting for him. But we can’t live in that pain. Yes, when bad things happen, grieve. Let. It. Out. But let Jesus be with you in your pain. He doesn’t take it away. He sits with you in it. He feels it. And He brings peace. As soon as my friend prayed, I calmed down. Because I knew I wasn’t alone. I couldn’t do it, but there was someone who could.

We aren’t meant to live in that pain. Jesus blessed me that night. With that peace and strength to go back, but also because of what ended up happening when I got to the hospital. When I arrived, I was still nervous of reliving those memories. Thinking about walking on that skywalk from the parking garage to the hospital, to my granddad, still scared me. Seeing the room Papaw was in would be so incredibly hard. Why did the circumstances have to feel so similar. But because I got there after midnight, all the normal entrances were closed, even the skywalk I had walked so many times to go see Papaw. The only entrance open was one I had never entered, the ER entrance. It felt like a totally different hospital. 

A Year Ago Today

When you hear the words “a year ago today,” you know something really great or something terrible happened. Something worth remembering. Maybe a graduation,  a first date, a wedding, first day of a new job… But sometimes when you hear the words “a year ago today..” It means something more. It means something that broke you and changed you. Something you will never get over. And never forget.

For me this is what that is. Just a little over a month ago, I had a “year ago today” moment. August 14th, 2014. Forever ingrained in my memory. I got the call while I was working at camp, the call that changed me, broke me. It was the day I experienced death truly for the first time. But it wasn’t just any death. It was a life that was stolen from this earth. He felt he had no reason to live, so for him that meant he had a reason to die. A reason to not live. A reason to leave this lonely world in hope of something better. The pain he carried in his life, is now carried by those who loved him. Those whose lives were impacted by him. There were a lot. A lot more than you would expect for someone who felt he didn’t matter.

I read an article recently called “the day after I killed myself.” It’s written from the view of someone who did just that. But what she writes is interesting. She wrote that the day after she killed herself, she fell in love. She fell in love with the way her mom looked at every little picture of her and cherished her old stuffed animals. How her mom went into her closet and held her clothes just to smell her scent as if she was still there. It’s hard to accept reality sometimes. She fell in love with how her dad took all the gifts she had given him and cradled them. How he kept calling her number just to listen to her voicemail. Just to hear her voice. One. More. Time. She fell in love with the way her brother broke over her. The love he expressed for her. The way he could talk to no one. Because they were best friends.

How can you explain that to someone? How do you explain the way death effects you? You can’t. She fell in love with the fact that she was needed. She was wanted. She fell in love when she saw her dog walking happily along the trail they used to walk together. The beauty of the outdoors. The shining sun she had never quite noticed before. The warm gentle breeze that wraps itself around you. The day after she killed herself she went back to her corpse and tried to convince herself not to do it. But it was too late.

Everyone has an impact they don’t realize.

Always remember that.