The power of presence
It was July 2006.
I had just become the mother of three.
Kyler joined our family July 6 and we were just settling into our new life together.
He was a peach of a baby. Mellow, sweet and beautiful.
A few short weeks after he was born I opened my email folder and read an email that broke my heart.
I could blame it on post-partum hormones or any number of things, but I sat immobilized at my computer and wept.
It was from a dear friend, the friend who when I described her to other people (she lived just north of the border in Canada) the words I always used were “She’s pretty much the sweetest person I’ve ever known in my life”. And that summed it up nicely. Shauna had quickly become someone I loved spending time with in college when I went to school in British Columbia. A pending wedding brought me to finish school down here. In 1999, she stood with me as a bridesmaid in that wedding of mine.
Fast forward a few years and we were still emailing and writing and meeting halfway for coffee and peanut butter pie.
So when she emailed me in July of 2006 to tell me that her father had died instantly of a heart attack while golfing, I was shocked and couldn’t imagine what that would feel like.
Despite the fact that Kyler was just a few weeks old, I asked Chris if I could go to her dad’s funeral. It would involve flying across our state, renting a car, crossing the border into Canada (which is tricky sometimes with a new baby and without that baby’s dad), getting to a hotel in a town I’d never heard of before. At the time, none of that seemed to matter (now it sounds just a little crazy!), I only knew one thing – the service would take place on a certain day and I simply had to be there.
You see a couple of years prior I had experienced something very painful that left me with an indelible mark on my heart.
When my grandparents died, they lived very close to us, and almost no one came to their funeral from the church where my husband pastored at the time. Virtually none of our friends came. I had no idea it even mattered to me that they would be there. I would have told them “Don’t come, don’t worry about it” had they specifically asked.
But in the moment when I walked in the door behind my grandfather’s casket – 6 months pregnant with Rylee – I was sad. Not just sad from missing him but sad because people that I loved weren’t there to witness with me and honor the memory of his life.
I realized in that moment how much power there is the presence of people sharing in the important things of life together. There is something deep and meaningful that is communicated by simply BEING somewhere with someone you love who is hurting. Even if you didn’t know their grandpa, you know them. Even if you have something else you’d rather be doing. Even if you have no idea what the right thing is to say.
So I went with my new baby northward to a darling little town called Nelson, BC where I discovered they roasted great coffee and where I could live out love to my friend. And I will be forever glad that I did. Very few of her friends were able to come because of how far away it was from where she lived. Getting to smile at her and hug her and share the experience of that day with her made it all worth it.
Thank you to each one who is sharing this journey with us. We feel like we’re headed somewhere but we don’t know how to get there and we didn’t have a choice in the destination. Such is the nature of grief I suppose.
We are forever grateful for your prayers and kindness.