This morning in my house we're preparing for a short trip.
This morning in most houses, Saturday morning will be a ritual of cartoons, and cereal, and shuttling kids to various athletic events, and then maybe to a pool and later on to a cookout.
This morning in Texas, in the home of a dear, dear family that I love deeply, this morning undoubtedly came on the heels of another sleepless night. If there was sleep at all it is only because of the body seeking refuge from the intense pain of the past four days. This morning in Texas, my dear friends will close out one chapter in a book just beginning to be written. They will say goodbye to their son.
People use the term "closure" frequently. We strive for closure when someone has wronged us and we've wondered why for many years. Or if we were left at the altar. Or if our spouse divorced us for no good reason. Or if our luck runs bad, or our lives take a turn.
We seek closure when we lose a child. But this, as my dear friends will discover, is not possible.
Today is a hard day for them, but the hardest day will be tomorrow. And then even harder will be Monday, then Tuesday...
They will never escape the reminders all around them. They will have scant few moments when they aren't thinking of him and what happened, and what might have been. The ache in their soul will not decrease in time. It will grow. There will be even more tears. Even greater pain. Even worse anguish.
They will change, these friends of mine. They will not be the same as they were before. I promise you this. Every Christmas will remind them. There'll be an empty seat at the table and an untouched stocking on the mantle. There'll be a high school graduation with one less young man walking the aisle. There'll be the day when his friends all leave for college and his parents are denied that blessed sorrow. There'll be a college graduation, and a wedding, and grandchildren all denied. Those things are part of the natural order of life and so when they don't come...you don't simply ignore it. The hole left by their absences is real, and palpable.
They will wonder what he would be doing right now, at a million moments over the rest of their lives. They will ache. They will cry. They will relive this week forever. Years will pass and it will be more tolerable, but it will never go away.
This Saturday morning in Texas, some people I love are ending the worst week they have ever known.
And beginning the darkest walk any parent will ever take, and no parent ever should.
I know this to be true...because 18 years ago, my family had their own "Saturday Morning" (ours fell on a Wednesday). I can still feel the chairs in the kitchen. I can still recall every second of the church service. I can still see all the faces, and the line of high school kids extending out the door and into the street...wanting to say goodbye when they never should have to.
It never goes away...it only becomes more manageable with time. I know this to be true because as I write this, and as I think back to that phone call and that long plane ride home, and those faces in the kitchen...I am in tears on this Saturday morning in Virginia. Because it all feels like it just happened all over again.
If you've never endured this, I ask only one thing. Please don't expect your friends to respond the way you think you would. You have no idea what kind of hurt this really is. You can't even imagine.
Just pray for them, and stand near them in silence.
This Saturday morning...wherever you might be.
Praying for Ergun, Jill, and Drake and their family.