Friday, August 26, 2016

When life hurts!

This past week, as so many of you know, 5 year old Alayna was kidnapped, raped and killed. Today is her funeral.  At 10:30 this morning, her family will lay her earthly body to rest, say their "final" good-byes and leave their baby to be placed within the soils of their community.  People will cry, they will weep and they will leave questioning the world we live in.... but they get to leave and return to 'normal'.  Many people will reflect on Alayna's funeral as "the end"... the end of this ordeal and time for her parents (Kayla and Matt) to begin the healing process. However, for Kayla and Matt this doesn't mark the end, it marks the beginning.  The beginning of 'before and after' and beginning of 1, 2, 3, 4 week anniversaries, 1 month anniversaries, the beginning of 'should have beens' and 'if onlys'.  The silence that will fill their house after the company leaves, after people get busy with their own kiddos or work, after people decide they just can't live in that kind of sadness anymore will be deafening... Matt and Kayla will still be broken... they will still be in the depths of hell.  There is no end for them.  But today will mark a very significant milestone to this journey... it is the last tribute a parent can give to his/her child.  Every parent wants it to be perfect... to be a true reflection of the wondrous person their child is.  They want it to be a celebration of the life their child lived while they were here.

I remember very clearly the day of Declan's funeral, feeling like it wasn't real.  Looking back I sometimes think that is was almost like an out-of-body experience.  As Nate and I stood in line, hugging all of our family and friends, we were actually doing more comforting than being comforted.  It makes me smile to think about it really - we were a bit like zombies... had been crying straight since his passing 4 days earlier and had very few tears to shed at his wake.   It was very surreal.  I was angry, sad, overwhelmed and irritated by a lack of sleep and food.  Walking down the aisle of the church, behind Declan's little casket, was one of the worst feelings of my life.  It became so real... almost a feeling of "there's no going back now" even though there was nothing to go back to... I couldn't look at anybody, I kept my eyes to the ground and just followed my brother Lance and my brother-in-law Matt (pallbearers) up to the front.  One other memory that sticks out in my mind was leaving the cemetery - leaving Declan with strangers to be buried - and turning around and watching out the back window of the car until I could no longer see his casket.  The very final moment... the very final glance... a little white casket sitting there in the lonely, cold, windy winter day in our country cemetery... and that was what my grief felt like for a very long time - lonely and empty.

As I reflect on Alayna's life and death, I am overwhelmed with emotions. I've been crying all the way to  work and home this entire week - so sad for Alayan, her parents and frankly it stirs up so much from Declan's death that I am crying for myself too!  But on my way home last night, I was listening to Christian radio and first they played "I can only Imagine" - which you can imagine for me was a sob-fest... and then talked about feeling overwhelmed by the current situation with Alayna (they were talking directly to me, I am sure of it) and they played "Overwhelmed" and talked about how when we get overwhelmed, we need to focus on God and all he has done... and that even in the horrendous way little Alayna passed away, she is and has always been loved by her family and by Jesus... she left this world in a horrible way and Jesus was there to catch her and tell "You are safe now, I love you"... I am still deeply saddened and hurting, but through faith and God's amazing love healing will happen.... joy shall return, may look and feel different, but it will come back...