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.