Twelve years. It’s been twelve years full of major and minor changes. Sometimes it seems as if those twelve years went by in the blink of an eye. Sometimes it seems the life we had back then wasn’t even real. And to be totally forthcoming, a portion of the intervening years have been incredibly difficult and yet we’ve also experienced so much good along the way.
But if you are reading this on Wednesday (October 11, 2023), yesterday was the twelve-year anniversary of a change no one wanted or could have imagined. Twelve years ago, and a day later, my family began a new existence without a wife, mother, son, and brother.
I’ll spare you all the horrific details—they are widely available on the internet and the book I wrote in the aftermath. Suffice it to say, we were completely shocked, dumbfounded, traumatized, and brutalized. Feel free to choose your own descriptive word or phrase.
I don’t believe there was any way to prepare for those changes that came roaring in like a tsunami on steroids. We went from a family of six to a family of four with four quick pulls of a trigger.
I remember the funeral service at the church building like it was yesterday, but I have no memory of the committal service. I clearly recall talking to people afterward, but there is this strange little gap in time of no memory at all. It’s weird what grief and stress can do.
Yes, every October 10th is a stark reminder of the losses we incurred, and the changes we’ve endured. I typically get antsy and anxious in the days leading up to this yearly remembrance. Thankfully, my sweet wife tends to recognize what I am doing before I realize it myself.
However, even with our days of heartache and despair, I see the handiwork of God. He has done and continues to allow us to be recipients of amazing blessings. And for the most part, we mostly live lives full of joy. Yes, there are days like yesterday that serve as stark reminders of pain and loss. But they also serve to remind us how far we’ve come.
I’m reminded of the Psalmist’s words: “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor, a lifetime. Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5 CSB17)
I’m thankful for the friends who walked this journey with us. I’m especially indebted to my wife and our blended and extended family. I’m thankful for our church home here in Oxford. I’m gratified for the church in Ridgeland that gave me a chance to be back in full-time ministry. I’m incredibly grateful that God has seen fit to remind us that there is still great beauty in this life and the world.
I pray that with whatever heartache or difficulties you encounter, God will bless you with eyes to see past the pain and heartache to the beauty that surrounds us all.