Sunday, December 28, 2014

Picture of Jesus

My brother, Christopher, took this picture wile working offshore.

I have been struggling with what to write. I have always loved having two brothers, Christopher and Jared. My grief has taken me through so many valleys. I feel okay one minute and the next I fall to pieces. I torture myself with questions…what if I’d done this, what if I’d said this…what if I didn’t say this. I try to be strong for my parents. I know they are struggling with their own grief, which is so different from mine. Grief isn’t something laid out in perfect precision. For me, grief feels like I have an open wound and I need to explain it to people when their eyes catch sight of it... “Oh, that? You mean that blaring, oozing, deep red wound…that’s my brother, he died 16 days ago.” 

I remember seeing a picture of Christopher for the first time after learning he died. My heart dropped, I ached to see him…to tell him how it will all end. For days I couldn’t look at my bedroom window because it was there Jared knocked to wake me up just past midnight and deliver the news, (I know that must have been hard for him).
For days each time I walked into the living room, I saw Jared standing there in the dark, his hands in his pockets, the words, “Christopher and Adrianne were killed in a wreck” escaping from his mouth, yet his lips never seemed to move. 
Days later, I couldn’t look at my driveway…it was the last place I hugged my brother and told him I loved him, I was proud of him and how good he looked. Had I had known a week later he would never pull into my driveway again, I would have hugged him tighter, invited him in, or simply looked at his face – held his hand. It was the last time I saw Adrianne.

Looking back the week of his death felt hard to believe, it couldn’t be true, NO it was a mistake. The days seemed to last for years, I had no concept of time. Picking a plot, choosing a casket, making musical selections for the service…it was all a blur.  I’m not sure I will ever be able to describe my feelings during this time, there truly are no words.
I stood at the head of his casket…rubbed his head methodically. Surely, it can’t be true…he is here, his hair feels the same, he looks so peaceful…he looks like he is sleeping.

The days to come I would piece together the events leading up to his death, I needed to know. I would drive to the scene…just to stare at the tree I had driven past for five straight years never giving it a second thought. I would look for its branches stretched high in the sky as I passed by on nearby streets.

Now I know, I was looking to the wrong things, focusing on the wrong things, looking at the wrong pictures.It would take a broken washer and pile of laundry to open my eyes.

You see, my washer died five days after Christopher. The laundry had been piling up. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I gathered up a pile and headed to the laundromat.

Brent asked me why did I need to go right then and wash clothes and I told him, I just need to go. While the clothes were washing, Noah and I walked to the Christian book store. I thought about buying a book on grief. I left without purchasing one. Here’s why: On the wall of the store were dozens and dozens of pictures of Jesus. A feeling came over me, again one I cannot describe. As soon as I saw the picture of Christ, I saw Christopher, I felt Christopher, I heard his laugh. I saw him basking in the Lord’s glory.  I knew Christopher had seen Jesus and was with Jesus, while I stood there in the bookstore and looked at a picture.

I feel peace, knowing he and Adrianne were with our Lord, Jesus Christ. Enjoying the love they shared in life, yet this time a love without pain, without struggle…a love created by Christ.

It was meant for my washer to break…it was meant for me to go to the was meant for me to walk into that store. I can still hear my brother's laughter, and see his smile completely take over his entire face when he’s making fun of my cooking or my Christmas tree still out back. I miss him, terribly.

People say they’ve felt the presence of their loved ones, or their loved ones had sent them little signs…and I kept waiting for mine. I believe it arrived.

I love you, Christopher.
This is how I picture Christopher meeting Jesus.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mr. Masseuse

So much has changed since I last wrote. The seasons, my job, where I live, my weight (not for the better), Brent and I celebrated 13 years of marriage and my kids have celebrated birthdays.

Noah is a big 3rd grader, who likes a girl. Word on the street, she has nice handwriting and a 6.1 reading level.

Kipper is in 1st grade and has been missing his front teeth for a months and has developed a love for country music. Seriously, where did this kid come from?

While so much has changed, so much is the same.  And by that I mean my kids' ability to test my parental skills in public still exist and is going strong.

Most Sundays, when we aren't traveling the Southeast playing soccer, I will try to visit my grandmother. Usually, it's me, my mom, my aunts, my cousins and my uncle, sitting around the table, drinking coffee and eating whatever sweet, fattening thing one of us has brought over.

Noah and Kipper usually tag along, and spend time with their cousins. But one Sunday, Noah saw this as an opportunity to make a buck, or two or seven!

Here's how. I've taught Noah how to massage shoulders. And, I don't mean any old massage – he is actually pretty good. This particular Sunday, Noah decides to show off his masseuse skills by massaging everyone's shoulders for three minutes for a dollar. (Did I mention he's cheap)

Once he was finished, Noah had earned seven dollars. In the land of a 9 year old, or at least my 9 year old, that is BIG money!

So, after we left my grandmother's house we head to Books-A-Million. I had promised the boys a trip and a book…hindsight being 20 / 20 I should have planned to pick one up for myself, no doubt a self-help book probably titled...'Perfecting a poker face for parents.'

So, after we roamed the store a jillion times, Noah has finally made a decision and picked out his books. Kipper chose his within the first five minutes of getting there, typical Kipper fashion.

Anyhow, Kipper spies TWO books to his ONE nestled
in the crook of Noah's arm and says, “Wait, why did he get two books?”

I tell him, “Well, Noah massaged shoulders at Little Maw Maw's and earned extra money to pay for another book.”

Kipper stomps his foot at me as I am walking towards the checkout and says…(or SCREAMS which is how I remember it), “You didn't tell me I could rub people's FEET!”