…since my son breathed his last breath on earth and found himself in the presence of Christ.
The Accident happened about 11:30 on a Monday night. Because of the location, they were not pronounced dead until 12:15 am on August 13, 2013.
The 12th was hard for me those first ten months. Then I decided to be grateful — grateful on the 12th for all I had rather than be overwhelmed by my loss. Choosing gratitude has helped me heal. It has helped me find peace as I think about the things I have rather than my loss.
Yes, I’ve lost many I love. Yes, I have a number of friends in their last days now and whom I will lose soon unless God does a miracle. Each of these people have given me wonderful things! Memories, thoughts, experiences, and love. They have helped shape my life. I can focus on pain and loss, or I can accept and acknowledge the pain and loss then go on to think about the good things in my life because these people were in it.
In a grief group, a mom posted three things she was grateful for on the anniversary of her child’s death:
Another grieving mom once posted three things she is grateful for on the anniversary of her child’s death:
- Something I am grateful for from my child’s life
- Something I am grateful for in my child’s death (I know that may seem hard, but it is possible)
- Something I am grateful for since my child’s death
I thought it was a good idea when I read it, so here are three categories of things I’m grateful for on this, the third anniversary of The Accident:
Somethings I am grateful for from Andrew’s life.
1. His joy and laughter. He was an amazing guy who brought light with him everywhere he went. We all had moments when we were furious with him, but we couldn’t stay that way long. He was such a sweet guy and could disarm you with his grin. I just couldn’t stay mad at that kid! His memory stills brings joy and laughter.
2. I got to be his mom for more than twenty years. We had our struggles, he wasn’t perfect, and neither am I. But we had a great relationship…once he stopped being an ornery teenager and I figured out how to deal with and accept him exactly as he was. I loved when he’d call and talk for two hours about whatever came to mind! I love that he loved me and knew I loved him.
3. Andrew knew Jesus as Lord and Savior. Andrew didn’t always make right choices, yet he knew he was forgiven and loved. He knew that he had been fearfully and wonderfully made. He knew that Jesus was the Son of God, died on a cross for his sin, was buried, and rose again. He knew the Master Choreographer loved him. Because of this, I know Andrew is more than okay today; he is in the presence of Christ!
4. His friendships with folks of all ages and types. So many different folks came through our home at parties and events. I’m especially grateful for all the 12 Second Warriors; I love them all and pray for them often. I’m glad I still get to keep in touch with many of them. I’m grateful for the new stories I still hear! I’m grateful for all the pictures and videos his friends posts. I’m grateful that they helped him become the man he was.
Somethings I am grateful for in his death.
1. Peace from God that I felt almost immediately. Despite the shock, pain, and sorrow of knowing he was gone, I knew that I was loved by the Creator. I knew that He knew about each of our days before one of them came to be. I knew that God is sovereign and loving. And I knew that, somehow, the Lord would be glorified in all of this.
2. My husband who did so many hard things that week including cleaning out Andrew’s apartment and speaking at the memorial service. I can’t imagine how I would have made it through these past three years without Ron. He was amazing in those first few moments – strong and loving towards me and our other children, organized and willing to do what had to be done, yet gentle with so many hurting people who came in and out of our home. I am grateful we were side-by-side that week.
3. My family who loved each other well. My girls helped me with things like gathering photos and greeting visitors. The guys made the trip with their dad to clean out their brother’s apartment, a task so monumental only they could have done it. My stepmom and siblings who were amazingly kind and loving to me, their baby sister, especially my big brother Bob who loves his nephews as only an uncle can. Cousins, nephews & nieces, in-laws, and other family members who made the trip to be with us for the burial and memorial.
4. Friends who did things for us I’m still learning about like food, cleaning, helping with the memorial, and simply listening. I may only learn in heaven all that was done for us in the weeks after The Accident. Prayers, kind words, texts, cards, food, and so much more. From the Wichita Theatre folks (who offered the theatre for the memorial) to our homeschool community to our church family to his dance family to the Boy Scouts and bikers of all kinds, so many people stepped in to help us in ways we didn’t know we needed help. I’ve written about many of these things. I am amazed at how loved I felt, that so many people from such diverse backgrounds all cared for my family.
Somethings I am grateful for in our journey since his death.
1. My closer relationship to God and better understanding of Truth. Yes, my son’s death caused me to rethink some of my theology, not to question God’s existence or love, but rethink how this whole thing works. I’m still working on understanding it, but I know His Word to be completely true, even the parts I don’t understand. And I know God more closely than ever. I am grateful.
2. Time spent with my husband on road trips as we process all that happened in 2013. It was a hard year even before The Accident. I’m grateful to have had Ron by my side through all of it. You’ve read about our travels and cycling adventures these past couple of years. You’ve seen pictures of our kids and grandkids. What I can’t convey in this blog without sounding like I’m boasting is how amazing Ron is in every area of his life. I had let the trials of the year before The Accident cause me to forget some of that; I had let resentments and the troubles of this world cloud my vision of who Ron is and how much he loves me. In walking through loss and grief with him, I am reminded daily of the enormity of the gift I have in my husband.
3. Learning to write, which started only as a way to tell folks how we were doing and has morphed into so much more. I am a math and science nerd. Perfect math score on the ACT. Passed the CPA exam first time through. But I’ve always been terrified on writing an essay! Writing reports, papers, and even a letter could cause me break into a sweat. Writing is not my gift. Doesn’t God have a sense of humor? He keeps asking me to use something at which I feel completely inept to reach other hurting people. This requires me to rely on Him. It’s also helped me process my pain and grief.
4. The friends I’ve met through grief. We share our stories but so much more! We share our pain, our joy, our laughter, and our hope in Jesus Christ. I have met many of these friends in my own hometown. Others I’ve met on the road as I travel with Ron. So many more I’ve only met through Facebook and this blog. They give me strength and encouragement. I’m grateful for each of them but sorry we have loss in common.
So, that is my list. My list of Twelve Things I’m Grateful for on the third anniversary of The Accident.
Thank you for Andrew. Thank you for all who loved us the week of The Accident. Thank you for continuing to work in my life. Thank you for all you have done for me as you work to conform me to the image of Christ.
If you have experienced loss of a loved one, rather than focusing on loss and what is now missing your life, consider focusing on things you are grateful for, the things God has done for and through you.
Making this choice has been a huge part of my finding joy, peace, and hope in my grief. By choosing gratitude, I have helped in my own healing. I pray that you find a way to have joy, peace, and hope in your own journey.