From Victim to Surviver to Thriver

In the immediate confusion and struggle of the events of October 10, 2011, I had no idea what to do from one moment to the next. I will ever be thankful for the people who were there giving guidance and support. I am particularly grateful for the friendship, compassion, and expertise of Bubba Lang and his staff at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Homes.

We had a history together that predates those horrible events. After hurricane Katrina, Bubba allowed the church to use one of their chapels for worship services for about a year and a half while our new building was being constructed. In a crazy turn of events, we had sold our building and then two days before Katrina roared ashore, signed a contract to build a new building.

But unfortunately, everything changed including the projected costs as a result of storm recovery and rebuilding.

With a building project on hold and no building of our own, we were served well by Bubba and his staff. They made a difficult situation much easier than it could have been otherwise.

Even after being in our new church building, us “old timers” remembered those funeral chapel months with gratitude and humor. (After all, how many preachers get to preach in a place where people are dying to get into? Yeah, I know, it’s a groaner of a joke.)

But then the unthinkable happened. I found myself at the same chapel we had used all those months for Sunday worship trying to figure out what to do for a funeral service.

My friend Bubba was as compassionate and caring as anybody could have been. A business that provided a necessary service was more like a ministry and Bubba was the High Priest. I remember sitting there answering questions and carrying out what I think were lucid sounding conversations.

I also remember my breaking point that day. When directed to the casket show room and tasked with picking out two coffins, I reacted in anger. I balked, refused, and with a heavy heart, left the room. I still have no idea who made that final decision.

Immediately after, I remember being driven to the cemetery where we took possession of donated grave spots. I remember feeling how strange, unnatural, and horrible the whole process was.

I remember…

The horror of it all is still so very present.
And borrowing the words of a commenter on a another blog I read, I am doing my very best—determined—to make the transition from victim to survivor to thriver.

In many ways I already have made that transition.

And yet, the simple truth is that consequences often expand exponentially. With that expansion, which I often refer to as the ripple effects, comes a whole laundry list of unanswered questions, guilt, and anguish.

In those last minutes, what did they feel?
How terrified were they?
Did Cole understand what was happening?
Where was God?

Where was God?

Fair or not, with that question, at least for me, came a loss of trust, a loss of place, and a loss of friends.

Consequences.
And hard ones at that.
Consequences I still struggle with.

However, I remain very determined to face every one of them head on. Sadly, they don’t often have easy answers. They sometimes reoccur. And likely, it may very well take a long time to turn them around.

From victim to surviver to thriver. That’s my onward and upward journey.
Occasionally it feels like the proverbial one step forward and two steps backward.
But such is life for many.

Thanks for reading.

Les Ferguson, Jr.

9 thoughts on “From Victim to Surviver to Thriver

  1. ” I am doing my very best—determined—to make the transition from victim to survivor to thriver. In many ways I already have made that transition.”

    Indeed you have, Les, even though it might not feel like it at times.

    But our feelings aren’t always an accurate reflection of reality. Especially when we’re dealing with memories and unanswerable questions.

    You were able to trust love enough to build a new family. In trusting that love, you were trusting God. And you set forth on your path of healing.

    You’re a great blessing to a lot of people, Les.

  2. You are a survivor and you are a thriver. It’s just very, very different now. You have survived, although bruised, battered and worn… and you are thriving – just with a different life, different people and different circumstances.

    The love you had for those you lost, doesn’t end, and shouldn’t end. But it does change as you thrive. And you change. You are not the same man you were before; evil took away a lot but in Becky, her children and your own precious ones God has shown you love.

    I treasure the Les I didn’t know except through silly stories from Michael and Conner. The man I have come to know through reading your blog, Conner and the couple times we talked…. well I have come to see that you are someone very very special.

    I’m sorry for the friendships lost. I’m thankful that you are showing others how to grieve openly, and HONESTLY and not be ashamed for it. You are not just showing that, Les but you are showing them, us, how to survive and thrive. Hugs to you.

  3. Les, I’m so sorry. People will say things like, “There are great lessons to be learned in this.” I believe eventually we can learn survivorship and how to find our way back to life again, but in the honesty of my heart, I wish things like this never had to happen. I pray for you every day. Hang in there. Please hang in there.

  4. Well Buddy, this is one friend you will never loose. I enjoyed so much getting to spend some time with you in Monroe. Hope it won’t be so long until the next time.

    Love you bro,

    bill

  5. “From victim to survivor to to thriver” is an apt description of the journey. I fear that it’s not linear. In my own situation, I feel awkward being called a “victim”. That was my son who was killed by another driver on drugs. It can also be applied to his young wife of 19 months who has to start her life over again and his 4 month old son who has to grow up with only pictures of his dad. I see that I’m a victim in a sense of the relationships that were altered in a way that robs the joys I could have had. I know I can survive that, but I still find it difficult to thrive when faced with “what could have been”. So, I slip in and out of being “victim” to knowing I can “survive” and, occasionally “thriving”. The “thriving” part, though, is so hard to grasp. I don’t know yet what form it takes and how I’ll live it. Like you say, sometimes it’s “one step forward, two backwards.”

    Your ability to share your journey so eloquently and honestly is an encouragement.

  6. It’s been too long since we’ve talked! I’m proud of how far you’ve come and can’t begin to imagine all you’ve been through. Though you’ve lost some friends throughout this, you’ve gained some new ones. Lots of people are lifting you and your family up in prayer.

  7. Please keep on writing. In every email you write you express some of what I also feel. I find myself agreeing with you….saying “yes, yes, that is so true.” I cannot imagine the pain that you have, mine is minimal I think in comparison. But I do appreciate so much your taking the time to share your story.

  8. What Jimmy said, “you’ve lost some friends but gained new ones”. …..there really are no words. But people do want to give comfort in some small way. All of us would rather have our arms full with the ones we love than walk such journeys. Thank you for writing.

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