Monthly Archives: March 2016

3/26/2016 Happy Easter Beautiful!

Clara,

Happy Easter my love!  I wish I was hiding Easter eggs tonight, or watching mommy put together a pretty basket full of toys and candy.  I wish a lot of things….It’s going to be tough without you tomorrow, but how is that any different than any other day.  I’m going to try and focus on WHY tomorrow is a time to celebrate and remember that it is THE reason I can still have hope.

Sissy is here, that always makes me feel better.  We planted and tree for you today and re-potted a bunch of the flowers we received at your service.  I’ve been keeping up with them pretty well.  I’ve always felt that gardening/working in the yard  was very therapeutic.  I don’t really get the same satisfaction that I used to, but I get the feeling I’m going to have to get used to that about a good many things.  It doesn’t help that I am exhausted today.  Yesterday, I spent all day at our old house.  Being there for any amount of time is emotionally draining, but I put in some serious physical work as well.  I all replaced the broken storm door, took apart your swing set and brought in home.  I can’t part with it, not yet, maybe not ever.  The house can go ( hopefully sometime soon ), but the swing set cannot.  It’s in pretty bad shape, remember how it would rock back and forth while you swang on it!  It’s an old set, I got it from a friend of mine.  It’s even had a huge tree limb fall on it.  I remember fixing it for you, there was no way I could let you go without that swing.  I have so many memories of you on that swing…I need it close to me.  I also want to swing on it, so I’m going to restore it piece by piece, keeping what I can from the original set.  It’s going to take awhile ( and probably cost more than buying a new set ), but I’m going to be thinking about you the entire time, so it is time well spent.

Sissy and I also got to hang out with Nanny and Papaw last weekend.  We all went to lunch together.  I’m glad they got to see her (for more than a couple of minutes) and spend some time talking to her.  Hanging out with your great-grandparents is not something most teenagers have the privilege of doing, even fewer will actually realize what a privilege it is .  I just wish the circumstances were such that we could all be happy together.  It had to be uncomfortable for Sissy at times.  Nanny and I have a hard time looking at each other and not seeing the pain in each other’s eyes…living and feeling this pain is one thing, seeing someone you love and care about experience the same pain is different kind of hurt.  We get both, at the same time, and it is absolutely crushing at times.  I pray for her ( and Papaw) every day.  I pray for “peace in the the valleys”.  No one should have to bury their child and a great-grandchild…see their grandson suffer the same loss…watch their son suffer his son’s suffering.  I can barely type/write/or think about it without my gut wrenching…I don’t even know if this will make any sense by the time I am done.  Still, they have their faith, through it all, and that gives me hope.  I hope you have had the pleasure of meeting my uncle Randy.  He was always quite the the character and while I don’t remember much of him, I do always remember having fun while he was around.  I hope we’ll all laugh together again, and through Christ, my hope has assurance.  That is what I will be celebrating tomorrow.  There won’t be pretty baskets filled with candy this year, but there will be lots of singing, and maybe even a smile watching the sun rise on a day where Jesus Christ rose from the dead and made it possible for us to be together again one day.  I can’t think of a better reason to smile.

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ( John 16:33 )

With every exhale, I am one breath closer.  I love you, Clara

Daddy

 

 

 

 

 

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3/18/2016 Love endureth all things

Clara,

Hi my love.  I miss you.  I wish I could tell you the days are getting better, but you know that isn’t true.  I’ve been miserable all week.  Not sad, miserable.  I miss being “Daddy”.  I miss playing like a kid, I miss watching over you, I miss teaching you new things.  Most of all, I miss being loved by you.  I have no doubt that you love me still, and always will.  I just miss all the little things you used to do that made me feel like I was loved.  It’s such a good feeling, to be truly loved by something, and to “let” yourself BE loved.  It is the single greatest thing in this world, and probably the greatest thing in the next.  It is eternal, it “endureth all things” (KJV of part of verse 7 below)  , the Bible confirms that, and that gives me a lot of peace

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ( 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)

What a comforting thought that is for these dark times.  There is a lot of comfort in God’s word, you just have to be open to receiving it.  I can’t really say it makes me happy, but I doubt MY happiness is hardly HIS priority, and that’s OK.  Comfort, peace, compassion, those are the things I need right now.  Not happiness.

Mommy took a picture of Sissy and I after her play ( she did absolutely amazing by the way, I hope you were able to see it).  She’s such a beautiful young women, but I don’t recognize the guy she is with.  I look awful.  I feel awful.  Just as Job said:

My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death; (Job 16:16)

I am not a man that needs to be happy again.  I just want peace.  I don’t know if I can talk, and you’ll hear me, or if you have the ability to see me interact in this world without you.  What I do know, is that through Jesus Christ, all things are possible. So, when I pray, I always ask Jesus to find you, give you a hug and tell you, “I love you”.  I believe that message is delivered every time, and it gives me a little peace.  I have no reason to doubt it, prayer is powerful.  I’ve experienced it first hand.  Just last week, I asked why I couldn’t “feel” you with me anymore.  If He is with me, He should know that I NEED to feel that.  That night you were in my dreams, but not like a regular dream.  I was aware that you had passed, but I was just so happy to see you.  I got down on one knee and gave you the biggest hug ever.  I felt it: the emotion, the feeling that would accompany a reunion of this magnitude.  You turned, sat on the knee I had bent and put your arm around my shoulder.  That is amazing stuff, but you know that.  You were there.  You seemed happy, but you also seemed to be longing for that hug as well.  You miss me too, but I also clearly remember that you were smiling.  You must know more than I and I don’t doubt that at all.  You went to Mommy as well, she told me about it yesterday.  Just like me, she prayed for it, and it happened the next night.  I pray every morning now, usually in your room.  I can’t make it though without crying, but I pour my heart out to the only one that understands MY pain.  I pray that I come to love Him as much as I love you.  I think only then, will I really know peace.  I also pray that others will hear my story and come to the same realizations without having to personally experience the pain and loss.  I hope we can help a lot of people realize what is really important.

Mommy told me a great story about you the other night, remember “Diversity Night” at school?  I cooked stuffed peppers that night, we had just finished eating and Mommy walked in.  She needed to scarf down her food in order to get you there on time.  I wish I had gone with you, but that is besides the point.  She told me that you asked about what Diversity is and she explained, as best as most could when put on the spot, that people are different and you were going to learn about that.  “What do you mean? Different?” You said.  That is just it, you  explained it perfectly.  Better than I could have.  Again, it’s amazing what you don’t have to teach.  It’s this world that corrupts.

I’m going to try and be more loving towards others.  It sounds weird to say that, why?  I bet if I told you that, you would have been on board right away.  When you get older, you become afraid and callous.  I’m trying to change that.  One morning, I challenged myself to say “i love this person” ( in my head of course ) to everyone I saw.  It’s really hard to do.  That is a shame.  Because you find yourself not judging, but trying to understand.  You find patience where you would have otherwise been quick to get agitated.  You find a willingness to help when you otherwise would have walked right by.  Again, it is really hard to keep that kind of attitude up all day, but I imagine it wouldn’t be for someone like you.

I love you more and more each day,

Daddy

 

 

 

 

Mar 10, 2016 Thank you

Hi Beautiful,

I miss you.  Over these last few days, I have realized a few things.  For starters, the mental anguish, the suffering, isn’t going anywhere. Praying for it to go away is like praying for the wind to stop blowing.  Can faith make it stop?  Right now, the answer is no.  That doesn’t mean that I do not have faith,  or that I do not trust in God.  It is by Gods design that I suffer in this pain and the reasons behind it are unfathomable to me.  That is a tough pill to swallow, but I must take it .  Why?  Well, for one, it helps relieve this crushing guilt.  The guilt alone is enough to ruin the rest of my life, or worse.  As C.S Lewis so perfectly put it in A Grief Observed, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”  Secondly, watching the event unfold right in front of me, holding you in my arms that day, kissing your forehead one last time – this was the ultimate lesson in humility for me.  I have nothing that is not already His.  That does not mean it will be easy for me to part with it.  I say “part” intentionally.  I believe that you are with me and that in some form I will see you again, and it will be a joyous event, but I cannot know what that form is.  I only know what it isn’t.  I must “part” with notion that I can hold you in my arms as a five year old baby girl.  I must concede that all future things of this world, your graduation, your marriage, your children will never be, and they were never meant to be.  As Mommy so beautifully put it to me last night, you were, and still are the perfect gift to us.  So, I have to trust that He is in control, and I will never understand why this happened.   I must endure the suffering for a long as I must.  I am not really in control of that either.  Quite often, I act like a child being punished; I sob, scream (a lot), throw things, bash on the punching bag.  Also like a child, I cannot, will not, understand what is best for me.  All I see is what I do not have, all I want is what I cannot have.  Without you, life is very…off.  It doesn’t make sense.  It’s like I’m living in a world where 1+1 = 0,  it just doesn’t add up right. I’m disoriented and confused.  I don’t know a better way to explain it.  It’s just NOT right.  I think about you all the time.  It feels like we’ve been apart for years.  I miss you.

There have been some rays of sunshine ripping through the cloud that follows me around.  For instance: Good dreams = Good days.  I had a short dream about you Tuesday night.  I said to you “How do you know what beer tastes like?!?!”  “PE-PAW!”, you replied with a goofy voice and a smile.   I miss being goofy.  That was something you got from Mommy, who got it from Papa Terry.  I must have got it from you.  I remember you sitting on my lap and I would put my hands over my face, make a crazy face and then pull them away.  You would giggle and say “Do that again!”  I wish I could be that silly with you again.  Anyways…the dream: It was so real, I woke up feeling like you were right there.  It felt…amazing.  Mommy dreamt about you too that night!  I went downstairs and immediately started writing about it to you in my journal.  After, I started reading through the bible and this was one of the first verses I came to  :

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ ( 2 Corinthians 4:6, emphasis added )

I was riding such an emotional high going into the day.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say I felt happy, but I didn’t feel bad.  I realized that when I am having a day like that, I could easily seek out the pain and heartache, but I can choose not to.  After all, those moments will seek me out.

Most importantly, Mommy and I realized that we cannot do this alone.  We’ve both ask Christ to come into our hearts and to help repair the hole left with your passing.  Is it appropriate or inappropriate to thank you for that?  Probably the latter, but I don’t know any better.  We are going to let you be our inspiration, our gift.  God, Family, Everyone else.  That is what we will be “about” moving forward.  I’ve got another story to tell you about why I underlined everyone, but I’ll put that in another letter, hopefully soon.

I love you,

Daddy

Mar 6, 2016 Where’s my Seashell?

Hi beautiful,

Mommy and I missed you terribly this weekend.  It has been a very emotional and tiresome weekend.  Mommy is taking a nap, I can’t blame her.  Missing you is hard work.  I often wonder if anything will ever be difficult again.  Surely nothing can be this painful.  However; I want to tell you a story about a painful moment this weekend that had a profound impact on me.  I came across your seashell kazoo that Memaw and Pepaw got for you on their cruise.  I instantly thought of the night that they gave it to you.  I got you off the bus and we went straight to their house so I could borrow their truck.  Pepaw and I were having a terrible time getting your car seat situated and in the midst of that, you must have given me your shell to hold on to.  I’m sure I just tucked it away in my pocket and went on with trying to figure out the safest way to configure that car seat in a small pickup truck.   Anyways, on our way home, you asked me if you could have your seashell.  I said, “Your seashell?  I don’t think I have that sweetie.”  “Yes, I gave it to you” you replied.  I recall patting my pockets and looking around the truck for a second.  “Nope, I don’t have it.  You didn’t give it to me sweetheart.  I would definitely remember that.”  Your eyes started to well up with tears and you got so sad.  “Daddy, I promise, I did.”  At this point, it’s late, I’m tired and I said I didn’t want to hear about it anymore.  Later, on the drive, I don’t recall how long, I reached into my pocket looking for my cell and pull out…a seashell kazoo.  The moment I saw it I said, “I’m so sorry baby.  I do have it.  I’m so, so, so , so sorry I didn’t believe you.  I really don’t remember you giving it to me.”  (I still don’t)  Your face lit up!  You were so happy to see that I had it.  It was such a fun car ride home after that.  I had to put your car seat in the front, so you were riding high!  First time being in a car seeing everything at the same level a big girl would.  We even saw a few deer in the fields by our house.  When I think about it, I don’t think you cared whether I apologized or not, but please know that I did so very sincerely.  I was/am never too proud to tell you when I was/am wrong.  Of course, the prerequisite is that I actually realize I am wrong.  I just wanted you to trust me, and how could you ever truly trust me if I never admitted when I was wrong.  Daddy isn’t perfect.  I feel that more than ever now.  I still can’t help but feel like I let you down.  I can’t seem to shake it…the illusion of control, that I somehow failed you.  You’ve probably heard me say “I’m Sorry” a hundred times in the last six weeks.  I won’t say it anymore about that day because I’m sure you are replying with the same answer now as you did in the car: “It’s OK, Daddy”.  And when I asked “Do you still love me?”  You answer, “Of course I do”  In a silly voice because what I am asking you doesn’t make any sense).

But here is the profound part.  As I sit, sobbing, holding on to that little seashell, telling the story to Mommy in your bedroom, I had a revelation.  I was meant to have that moment with you.  God has given me all I need to get through this (this verse has been spoken to me three times, by three different people this week):

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ( 2 Corinthians 12:9)

But I keep saying the same thing over and over again.  “I don’t have it.  I’ve looked already.  I would know if you gave it to me!”  If I may be so bold, I think even Jesus cries.  Not for the same reason, not over some a childish toy, although, maybe you were crying because I didn’t believe you, that is certainly possible, but I think his tears are because he feels my pain, he feels my suffering.  He knows I can find it if I just look in the right spot: if I believe!  One day, maybe soon, maybe it was just now, I’ll realize that I’ve had it all along.  And when I do find it, Jesus will smile, you will smile, and maybe I will smile.  I like to think that you both are smiling as I write this.  For the record, I also think that Jesus would find my apology: “I’m Sorry, Do you still love me?” silly as well.

God works in amazing ways.  I wish I could tell stories like this to you everyday.  I wish even more that I could do it in the comfort of your bed, with you laying by my side.  That is what is so hard about this.  Every uplifting moment seems to be met with a cold hard dose of reality:  missing you doesn’t get easier.

I love you so much,

Daddy

 

 

Mar, 4 2016 Forty Days

Hello my love,

I want to start off with a story about you.  Mommy told me this story a few days ago, maybe it was weeks ago.  I don’t know anymore.  It feels like it has been forever since I’ve held you.  But…the accident, and the pain associated with it, feels like it was yesterday.  Anyways…  We could only invite a few people to your birthday party and about half the spots were going to family.  Mommy asked you to go through your class list and pick out a few friends to invite, but we won’t be able to invite too many.  Mommy saw one name circled and said “Clara, I didn’t think you were friends with him/her”, your response, “We’re not, but he/she really wants to go.”  You are so awesome and don’t even know it.  I probably would have told you something very adult-like, something like…why don’t you just pick your very best friends to go since we don’t have many spaces.  I wouldn’t have seen it like you then.  I’d like to think I would now.   Maybe you wanted them there to get closer and develop a new friendship.  Maybe you just wanted to invite them because they were so excited and you gave them a reason to be happy and excited.  Either way, it is just another reminder of how awesome you are and how awesome children can be.  It actually reminded me of a passage I read in the Gospel of Luke either in the week.  I’m not saying they are the same by any means, it just reminded me of this passage.  Just like thinking about you reminds me to be a better person.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

On a more somber note, I had a really hard time when I got home from work today.  It was going so well, but I was just overcome with grief on the way to the house and it got worse when I came in.  I went up to your room, laid on the floor and let it take over.  It’s an emotional pain that includes different levels of sadness, guilt, shame, anger, regret and terror; coupled with a physical pain in my chest and a twisting in my stomach.  I’ve been going through this for forty days now.  FORTY.  Not one day of reprieve.   My eyes burn when I cry.  I don’t think I’m drinking enough water to account for the water lost with my tears.  Or maybe our eyes are just not cut out for this kind of abuse.  After about 10 minutes of this, I start pouring my heart out to Jesus.  “When will this stop?  Haven’t I suffered enough?  Just tell me what to do!  I don’t have anything that is mine anymore.  Show me what to do with my life, because I am not strong enough to keep this up!  How can I be of any use like this?”  In a moment of weakness, I ask God to just take it if this is all I have to look forward to.  But do I really mean that?  I plead for help, but how will it come?  I need to have faith, but I’m constantly thinking about you and the amazing time we spent together.  How can that level of happiness come back?  Maybe it won’t.   Maybe that is part of the plan.  Maybe who I am to become doesn’t require me to be happy.  Loving, compassionate, humble…can I be these things and not be really joyful or happy?  I don’t think salvation guarantees happiness here on earth.  In fact, the happiest time in my life was just before…Oct 26, 2015 to Jan 24, 2016…Truly, the best days of my life and that may not change.  I’m not sure how to feel about that.  I feel a lot of regret because they could have been that much better if I had Jesus in my heart then, like I do now.  But there are so many others that suffer worse in this world and may never know a fraction of the happiness I had.  I question myself all the time.  How can I call myself a believer, have faith in God, believe in Heaven, trust that Jesus loves the little children and takes care of the innocent taken from this world too soon,  believe that I can spend an eternity with Jesus, know that means an eternity with you AND STILL BE SO depressed???  I guess because I am flawed.  We all are.  I can’t make any sense of it…I just miss you so much.  One thing I am sure of…I have just “lived” through 40 days of unimaginable pain, suffering and torment.  Sounds like hell, minus all the fire and burning.  All of this has given me a genuine fear of hell, but not death.

I love you to the moon and back,

Daddy

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 1, 2016 I’m Scared

Clara,

Hey beautiful.  I miss you. We…miss you.  This was our first week back to work.  I was nervous at first, but it turns out I can focus on something else and forget the pain for a little while.  Coming home, strike that, Coming back to the house is much different.  It is no home without you here, that is painfully obvious.  Mommy picked me up from work Monday because I was scared of driving home by myself for the first time.  When we got to the house, I saw flowers blooming under the tree in the front yard.  I know you would have picked one,  so I did the same and placed it in your room.  I stayed in there last night.  I don’t know why, I guess I just wanted to feel closer to you and being in your room helps with that.  BTW…I know why you always slept on your ladybug pillow pet.  Your pillows are awful!  I don’t feel too bad though…you slept great once we got you that new bed.

I had to drive home today though…it was every bit as terrible as I thought it would be.  I’m sorry you had to hear and see that. It’s just that…before, driving home was when my day actually started.  I rushed to get there before the bus and would anxiously await hearing about your day, running home with Mil-Mil, unpacking your backpack, getting you a snack, doing homework with you, making dinner with you.  How long will I have wait now?  That question is terrifying to me.  What if I live to be eighty-four?  That would be fifty years without holding you in my arms.  I cannot even articulate the feelings associated with that thought.  Nauseating? Yes.  Sad? Definitely.  Angry?  Not as much.  Scared?  Horrifying.  C.S Lewis is quoted saying that grief feels like fear.  I can attest to that; I never liked feeling afraid.  I don’t like horror movies, but now I feel like I’m stuck in one.  I wrote in my journal the other day that the expectation of tomorrow’s pain (and every day in the future) is worse than today’s.  It will hurt forever and NOTHING will change that.  My faith and trust in God will get me through, but it will not make it hurt less.  I will have to endure it until I am called home.  I don’t really know how I’ve done it so far.  My heart is so broken that I often wake up surprised/disappointed that it still beats.

While I was looking for the exact C.S. Lewis quote about grief and fear, I came across three other C.S Lewis quotes from the same book that felt very familiar

  1. “I once read the sentence ‘I lay awake all night with a toothache, thinking about the toothache an about lying awake.’ That’s true to life. Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery’s shadow or reflection: the fact that you don’t merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.”
    C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
  2.  “Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he’s had his leg off is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over it.’ But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again.”
    C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
  3.  “God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.”
    C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Now, I take that last one with a grain of salt.  I don’t believe “he” knocked it down, but I’m crumbled all the same.  Knowing “why” doesn’t rebuild the temple or change the past.  I’m definitely going to order/read this book right away.  I can already tell we think about things very similarly.  I often wonder about the concept of time in heaven.  Time seems like an earthly concept to me, not something that applies to eternity.  If that is the case, is there some possibility I am already there with you?  If I could convince myself of that, could I be happy again?  Maybe.  Truly happy?  No.  That is now as achievable as holding the sun in the palm of my hands.  That “level” of happiness is now reserved for a time where we are all together again.  I can only hope, pray, and preach so that “we” applies to ALL our family and friends.  If days in heaven equal days on earth,  then I hope God has told you when I will be there.  At least then, one of us will know how long we must wait.  So…the question of the day is: Am I in a state where I do not want to live with out you, but do not want to die and leave Sissy/Mommy; Or, Am I in a state where living with Mommy and Sissy is temporary (and precious), and dying is guaranteed and our reunion an eventuality?  The rub is…even though I want to move forward with the latter, it doesn’t make it any easier.  Not. One. Bit.

I love you,

Daddy