Sunday, June 10, 2012

One Year Later, The Guest Posts: Eric

I'm so glad that Eric chose to contribute a piece for the blog. We've all heard the stereotypes about men not grieving and men stuffing pain. I haven't found this to be the case with many of the men I know, but we all know how true stereotypes are, right? Because you know, I'm totally a wilting lily who needs to be rescued, haha. (/s this is my sarcasm tag in case no one caught that, lol). What I have noticed, though, is there isn't a ton of daddy blogging or support groups specifically targeting men. I know they are out there. And I know a lot of the infant/child loss groups are becoming more male-friendly which I am glad of. We were also blessed to be a part of GriefShare with our community group which covered many kinds of loss as a result of death, over many age groups, and both genders. It was a little hokey at times (we had a running joke where we'd guess the location they'd be green screened in every session) but, as the pastor who recommended it said, hokey might not be a bad thing when dealing with such serious subjects.

But back to Eric, another reason this is a special entry is this is my friend Cathy's husband. All my memories of last June are fuzzy and out of order but I remember being so thankful to Eric, Frank, Rob, and Brad for being there to help keep Mike together while I was falling apart. And before that, Eric was in our wedding ALMOST A DECADE AGO, how crazy is that? Over the years, Eric and Cathy haven't just been our friends, but they really mentored my brother and his wife from the time they met which I appreciate so much. And Eric and I have often commiserated about what it's like to be the social people and always the ones making plans. I've always thought that one reason we made such good couple friends with Eric and Cathy is that Cathy and Mike are as alike in personality as much as Eric and I are alike. Thank you, Eric, for this and for many years of being our friend (and for putting up with Mike's aversion to leaving the house, ha).

May 2010, Autumn's Mickey Luau: The picture I put in our adoption profile book.

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Ever had one of those times where you are in a group and everyone is talking about their worst _____? On occasion, I hear this question asked with many different things following the word "worst," but the worst thing that I want to tell you about is my worst weekend ever, and how God miraculously appeared in this weekend to bring peace to those of us who needed it. This weekend contained 2 deaths that left my wife and I with such grief that we still talk about it to this day. For this post, I will only be writing about the death of Garrett Michael Colley and the certainty that one day I will get to meet him.

I barely remember what was going on that day, but I do remember picking up my phone and seeing that there was a message from Mike. Normally, when Mike calls, I look forward to the humorous verbal beating that I get whenever he leaves a message, but when I heard his voice I knew that something was horribly wrong. My mind was racing ahead of his words and all that I wanted to hear was “Sharaze and Garrett are doing okay...”, but instead what I heard was “Sharaze is recovering, but we lost Garrett.” The knot in my throat almost kept me from getting Mike’s message out to my wife, Cathy, but once it was out we both just stared at each other with absent looks on our faces. The news was absolutely crushing and weighed on both of us heavily.

Later on, my thoughts shifted to Mike. As men, when we hear the news that we are going to have a son, for some of us, we automatically begin picturing all of the things that we did as a child and we imagine our sons doing to the same thing. We think about all of the things that we want to do together that dads and sons usually do. Essentially, we live out our sons’ childhoods in our minds before they are even born, and we continue to do this even after they are born. I think about these things with my own son. I started wondering what Mike must have been thinking and feeling and it was almost unbearable. Knowing that Mike would never be able to have a relationship with his son on this Earth was, and still is, heartbreaking. That’s when I questioned how God was working in all of this, and how He could allow this to happen to my friends. I didn’t have to wonder very long, though because when Cathy and I arrived at the hospital to comfort and empathize and pray, God was way ahead of us (as he always is). We could see Him right there in the room when we walked in.

Now, I’m not saying He was sitting over in a chair off to the side on His iPad, nor am I saying that I physically saw him there with his arms around my friends, instead what I am trying to convey is that he was working in the hearts of both Mike and Sharaze and there was such a peace in their room that it was difficult to comprehend! Cathy and I fully expected to go into a room that felt heavy and full of sorrow, but instead we walked into a room full of peace and mercy. Sure there was sorrow as well, but a hopeful sorrow, if that even makes sense. They both proceeded to tell us about all that had happened and that God was working in the lives of every single person that came into that room, and He was working through them to reach staff members and touch their lives in some way. I have to admit that I wasn’t prepared to see God working in their lives in such a profound, unmistakable way through what we saw as a tragedy. He didn’t just allow this to happen and observe from a great distance, He was there, sharing in their pain and sorrow and holding them in His arms all the way through it. He never left their side. This reminded me that we serve a God that loves us through all of our pain and suffering and promises us peace and restoration after the pain has subsided.

Why did God allow this to happen? I don’t have a clue. I’m beyond asking questions like this, for I wouldn’t attempt to relay God’s thoughts to anyone. However, these are the things that I am certain of:

1. God knows what we need exactly when we need it.
2. He is always faithful to HIs Word.
3. He restores us after horrible tragedies.

The Mike and Sharaze that I see now are not the same two people that I knew before Garrett’s birth and death. Instead, I see two people that God has restored to a place beyond where they were spiritually into a new place where their faith is greater than before.

And the irony of this whole weekend? Not only will it be remembered as my worst weekend on record, I’ll also remember it as a weekend where I was able to see God clearly loving and caring for His children in the midst of their loss. I know all of us are anxious to meet Garrett and eager to know him, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s anxiously awaiting the arrival of all of us, too. So here’s to the day when Mike and Sharaze will arrive at their final destination to be greated by their Lord... and I’m personally praying that God will allow Garrett to be standing right by Jesus’s side for their greeting with 2 words: “Welcome Home.”

1 comment:

  1. Love hearing from others as you celebrate Garrett's life. Thanks to everyone for being so transparent - what a ministry it is. Trouble's coming for all of us, and I for one will need these perspectives when it comes my way.