8:59

Our last good-bye to Graham wasn’t on his death bed, it was 9 months and 2 days earlier – the early morning of March 14th at which time he left our home and went north to Minnesota. The memory sits like yesterday. US Airways flight #1822 out of Atlanta at 8:59 a.m., connecting in Charlotte, arriving in Minneapolis just after one o’clock in the afternoon, central time.

You saw this snapshot earlier, but I’ll post it again. It’s a grainy, shadowy reminder of that morning, the ‘didn’t-know-at-the-time’ appendix to our story with this fabulous young man to our right and your left. Say hello to the Mitchell family.

For the last time.

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As I post this exactly a year later, this morning marks the first anniversary of that semi-sweet occasion.

An empathic friend sent this to Sandy and me yesterday, a Facebook post from Kay Warren. She and her husband, Rick, buried their son almost a year ago, also under horrifically tragic and unexpected circumstances. Obviously, being vastly more public figures, their grief has been exposed and commented on more openly. For the record, thankfully, we’ve not endured even a smidgen of what they’ve faced – not even close – but, then again, our season of mourning is not over.

Closure? Is there ever such a thing?

Healing. Yes. Certainly.

In Jesus’ burden-bearing Name.

But closure?

I share it, in part, not the whole (the entire post is difficult, at times biting, especially for those who haven’t ‘been there’) because it’s a reminder of those who’ve gone before us on this same stubbly road and who are coming through it, not perfectly, not according to some script or calendar, not even suitably, but are coming…

…through…

…it…

differently.

Kay has to see a mountain before her, we a foothill. Her pain is blistering, ours a soft injury. We don’t voice her same complaints, don’t feel the depths of her sadness, haven’t felt her sense of betrayal. But a few of the miles she’s traveled are vaguely familiar to us.

Read, beloved, and pray for our sister and brother, the Warrens.

And for us. Yes. We’re still not through it.

As the one-year anniversary of Matthew’s death approaches, I have been shocked by some subtle and not-so-subtle comments indicating that perhaps I should be ready to “move on.”

The soft, compassionate cocoon that has enveloped us for the last 11 1/2 months had lulled me into believing others would be patient with us on our grief journey, and while I’m sure many will read this and quickly say “Take all the time you need,” I’m increasingly aware that the cocoon may be in the process of collapsing…for most, life never stopped – their world didn’t grind to a horrific, catastrophic halt on April 5, 2013.

In fact, their lives have kept moving steadily forward with tasks, routines, work, kids, leisure, plans, dreams, goals etc. LIFE GOES ON. And some of them are ready for us to go on too. They want the old Rick and Kay back. They secretly wonder when things will get back to normal for us – when we’ll be ourselves, when the tragedy of April 5, 2013 will cease to be the grid that we pass everything across. And I have to tell you – the old Rick and Kay are gone. They’re never coming back. We will never be the same again. There is a new “normal.” April 5, 2013 has permanently marked us. It will remain the grid we pass everything across for an indeterminate amount of time….maybe forever.

You know, it wasn’t all that long ago that it was standard in our culture for people to officially be in mourning for a full year. They wore black. They didn’t go to parties. They didn’t smile a whole lot. And everybody accepted their period of mourning; no one ridiculed a mother in black or asked her stupid questions about why she was STILL so sad.

I can be callous with the grief of another and rush through the conversation without really listening, blithely spouting the platitudes I hate when offered to me…We’re not good grievers, and when I judge you, I judge myself as well…True friends…love at all times, and brothers and sisters are born to help in time of need (Prov. 17:17 LB).

The truest friends and “helpers” are those who wait for the griever to emerge from the darkness that swallowed them alive without growing afraid, anxious or impatient…They’re ok with messy and slow and few answers….and they never say “Move on.”

Thank you, Kay. You have eloquently expressed the heart of a griever’s innermost vocabulary, when they are honest with themselves. Thankfully though, because Christ is a Healer and His compassions never fail, we need never sorrow hopelessly.

The day following our son’s passing, this was my own post on Facebook:

God blessed Sandy and me with the gift of a lifetime, our son Graham. We were blessed to have our baby boy (our only) for twenty-four fun-filled, amazing, tragic, adventurous, never-a-dull-moment, heart-wrenching, miraculous, painful, sweet, cuddly, hard, eye-opening, jaw-dropping, hand-clapping, sweet-as-pie, soft-as-silk, abrasive-as-sandpaper, thrilling, magical, wonderful years.

Yesterday, he went Home. He’s with Jesus. The war is over. The struggle has ended. Devil, you scoundrel, you wanted to destroy him but God promoted him. You can’t touch him anymore. Can’t. You lose. Gra-Gra is with God now. Praise Jesus, his chains are gone. Amazing, amazing grace.

Hallelujah. Selah.

Psalm 85:2

All THAT makes all THIS worth it.

Remind me to tell you about my recent dream. It’s bona-fide Graham.

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13 thoughts on “8:59

  1. Please forgive me, if in my zeal to comfort you, I accomplished the opposite.

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    • pasturescott says:

      Sweet friend, you could never have accomplished the opposite! Indeed you – of everyone – have been most sensitive in the face of your own heart rending ‘loss’.

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      • pasturescott says:

        As I inferred in the post, while we – thankfully – have not at all seen the kind of insensitivity the dear Warrens have, and have not been asked to “move on”, there were a couple things in her statement that had us nodding our heads. No doubt you could identify with one or two of her sentiments, I’m sure. Us? We’re SO well in Jesus! So comforted by His people! But…not ready to end our mourning season. It’s quite healing, God be praised.

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        • I`m wondering how anyone ends the “season”? Any remarks to me that may have been hurtful, have bounced off and been replaced with compassion towards that person who doesn’t truly “know” what they are saying. I’m sorry it hurts her though. And I’m so relieved my efforts at comfort haven’t been hurtful. My heart has, for sure, been hurting with you and cheering you on in this heightened “opportunity” to preach the Kingdom. His Glory springs up and flows out of your sorrow.

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  2. Renee Mattison says:

    I hear you. I feel like you’ve allowed us to sit in the corner of your room to pour out what it is not just to love a child but to say so long to a child, not good-bye. There’s a message of hope here between the tears for the next parent to glean from if and when it happens to them. I have no comments; just feel grateful that you allowed us to hear you. There’s nothing a person can say but listening is profound. Listening and praying for you both.

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    • pasturescott says:

      Renee, you are so dear! What a beautiful heart you lay before us! Thank you for just sitting so quietly comforting beside us, holding a box of tissues so too speak, and just listening. Her is healing is beautifully through you. Thank you.

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  3. Adam Simpson says:

    Almost 14 years ago I got a call early in the morning at a friends house in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. My older brother, for whom I had only a few months prior performed his wedding ceremony, had been killed in a plane crash around the world in Tennessee. After changing our families plane tickets from going to Thailand to Tennessee, I had the most difficult and long plane ride of my life. A few days later I was speaking at his funeral. For the first year, I thought about my brother daily. I shed many tears. Fourteen years later, I still think about my brother almost daily in some way. Some days it is a laugh, some days it is a tear in my eye. I still grieve for him. And he was “only” my brother. I cannot imagine losing a child – I do not want to imagine losing a child. I know what my mother and father went through, and still go through. In faith, there is much peace and joy and freedom. But I still miss my bro and wish he could be here with me. So take all the time you need my dear brother. Grieve hard. Celebrate when you can for what you know to be true. I love you guys and thank you for sharing your lives through this time. I share this with watery eyes. Your brother – Adam Simpson.

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    • pasturescott says:

      Adam of the Last Adam, beloved brother of the Second Man Jesus, I love you and most gladly receive once again your humble blessing. YOU ARE SO DEAR to my heart! I miss you. Thank you for sharing about your beloved brother. I’m sorry for the burdens you most certainly still carry, but admire the strong faith that is alive in you. I love walking these things out alongside my Kingdom brothers!

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  4. Patrick says:

    Scott, I am so sorry to hear of your heart-wrenching loss. Thank you for sharing your heart.

    I attended a funeral not long ago of a man in my former congregation and was angered and appalled at some of the words of those who chose to speak. “What must (the widow) be thinking?”, I said to myself.

    I, too, lost children 19 yrs ago (twin boys at birth, premature) and can tell you, as Michael Card sings, “the aching may remain, but the breaking does not.” (The Silence of G.od)

    As the man of sorrows wept with those at the tomb of Lazarus, be assured he weeps with us, too, in our time of grief.

    “And if a man has got to listen to the voices of the mob
    Who are reeling in the throes of all the happiness they’ve got
    When they tell you all their troubles have been nailed up to that cross
    Then what about the times when even followers get lost?
    ‘Cause we all get lost sometimes…”

    HaShem bless and protect you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bv-V38SyOzc Michael Card

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    • pasturescott says:

      Patrick, you are such a new-to-me friend. Thank you for ‘paracleting’ me in this season, and, oh my, you referenced one of my very favorite musicians, which makes you an even better friend. 😉

      I appreciate your candor and encouragement from one who has truly ‘been there.’

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  5. Ryan Hendricks says:

    Scott Mitchell.. U stand, yes “stand” taller than any man I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Such a brilliant, gifted, talented, beautiful child is Graham. What a very dangerous threat to Satan he was . And through your faithfulness in our Lord during this time that would topple most any believer’s faith, you have stopped the evil one in his tracks! In doing so you have made Graham’s passing a threat to the lies Satan tells. I thank God for you and Sandy! I thank God for the time you both took out of your busy lives to watch my baby girl for that sweet time in her young life. For the prayers u lifted up for her and for the parenting when Amy and I were just kids ourselves . That Godly parenting u gave my daughter who is now a young beautiful woman who loves The Lord . It will never escape me that at the perfect time in her life were the perfect set of second parents. Thank you . I will pray for you and Sandy daily. I heard a lecture from Dr. Chuck missler where he read a quote : losing a child is like putting a period at the begging of a sentence..then he goes on to encourage to leave it in God’s hands for he knows all about losing sons…I miss our time together se ya soon I hope

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    • pasturescott says:

      I love you, Ryan. I was reading through my journals, finding all those great remembrances of Graham, and came across so many entries about our one-on-one’s together! Thank you, brother, for allowing me to speak into your life in that early season. You and Amy remain two of our favorite people. Thank you for the HONOR of loving on your Cassidy-shmassidy those years. I always wanted a daughter, and she was ‘our little girl’ for that sweet time. We’re so, so proud of you! Looking forward to our fellowship in Christ’s time.

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