Part of me is dreading the service because it’s like closing a chapter and opening another. And the next chapter will be a long hard road. I don’t know that I’m ready to start “our firsts” without my Dad: his Birthday, my mom’s Birthday, the grandkids birthdays, Father’s Day, and the other events. I’m not ready for this road, but I know God allowed us to be on this road, and I know we are not alone.
In fact, we have not been alone the whole time, and neither was my Dad. When we realized the magnitude of my Dad’s accident, my heart hurt because I thought my Dad was alone during it all. The day we found out he wasn’t, I cried out of gratefulness. Gabe and Brandi (a couple who was headed home) witnessed the crash. They stopped and prayed with my Dad until the EMT arrived. A volunteer firefighter also stopped. They couldn’t go to the hospital, but they just wanted to be there for my Dad.
Then, when Rachel first got to the hospital, she was met by her mom’s friend, Elizabeth Yizbeck. And when Tyler couldn’t get there as fast as he wanted to, a family friend, Ramon, showed up, just to be there.
Then, as Mom, Linda, Jessica, Brian & Danni, Stephanie & Justin , and the nieces and nephews were driving, I had several friends literally praying us through the night. In our hardest hours, they were there.
Then when we arrived one by one, we hugged, and went to see Dad.
But still, we weren’t alone. The morning we arrived, I got a text message that instantly brought me to tears, “We are on our way” from Sarah Zink. She and Chuck dropped everything and started the seven hour drive to just be there.
Then there was Uncle Bob and Aunt Lynn, my Dad’s boss, who have treated us like their own nieces and nephews every since they’ve known us. They showed up at the hospital after just arriving from another trip… They wanted to be there for us.
Then there was the Millers, the Fontaines, the Barrys, the Swift, and a few other friends that changed travel plans to came and prayed for my Dad and us; because, they wanted to be there.
My Uncle Stu wanted to be there for my mom and us kids, so he stayed overnight at the hospital. That allowed us siblings to all be together to discuss the next steps.
And how could I forget our employers and co-workers? My Mom took a leave of absence with the full blessing and support of her supervisors. They had to shift things around, I have no doubt, but gave her their devoted prayers and support, and offered to help in many ways to show they were there. My brothers station offered financial help, shift trades and found out ways to help our family. They wanted to show him they were there for him. My brother in law’s employer let him have time off and then gave him financial help. My employer, his wife, and my coworkers all worked extra hours so I could be there for my family. They even sent cards, from the kids, to show me that although we were hours away they were there for me and my family.
Then there were the seven churches- literally. There were seven different denominations that heard one way or another about my Dad’s accident. They offered housing, brought food, brought gift cards, and prayed for us. Because they wanted to be there for us.
And back at home, we had Lydia, another family friend, find things at the house that we needed. And because we left in a rush, I still had laundry in the washing machine. She and her mom rewashed my laundry, cleaned the house, left flowers in every room and had food waiting for us when we got home. Because they wanted to be there for us.
And then another family friend drove the items we needed up so he could be there for us.
And the donations, text messages, calls and prayers from so many left us stunned and overwhelmed. You gave and prayed because you wanted to be there for us.
The list goes on and on and on. But as we saw this beautiful picture of the church coming together on our behalf, I was reminded of the message my Dad gave at ACMI (Association of Christians Ministering among Internationals) this year. It was on “unused parts” of the body of Christ. In the middle of My Dad’s PowerPoint Presentation is 1 Corinthians 12:26, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…”
One of my Dad’s slide said this:
All the member suffer with the one member that is suffering! The whole Body hurts!
After my Dad passed, so many people said, “we are weeping with you”. In all honesty, it was hard to weep. I don’t know if it was shock or numbness, but I wasn’t able to cry for nearly a week after my Dad passed away.
But on our long drive home my Mom and I got to talking. We talked about how it felt like someone else was carrying our burden. I am now in tears as I write this, but it felt like each one of you took a piece of our pain and cried the tears we were unable to cry. It’s like God allowed our hearts to break in a thousand pieces, but then called each one of you to gently carry a piece of our heart; until we are able to carry it again.
So, I know I’m still forgetting some, like the doctor who knew someone who knew someone who knew my dad that prayed for him. Or for the money that randomly showed up in several of our bank accounts, or the dinners that were provided from Josh and Jen Chancey, Sarah Watson, The Stebners, Jaye Sousa, our neighbors across the street, and Jamie. Or, the ones who have had to walk this road before us like the Storey family and the Zink family that reached back and linked arms to help us navigate the way forward.
The processing and the words for me have been slow to come, but tonight I want to say, from the very bottom of my being: thank you.
Thank you for being there. Thank you for carrying our broken hearts. Thank you for crying our tears. Thank you for suffering with us, so that we are not alone.
I love each one of you so much, thank you for being there!