October 22: The Long Fall Begins

santa-god-825x510The air continues to be heavy with the prayers of others but my heart is unable to respond any longer. We are borne, as though bodily, by those prayers…lifted…but in the center of that life raft, I am still curled in a blind ball of pain and confusion. Steve and Sarah are not ones to talk about their feelings as much, not out loud, but I know they are as dazed and in shock as I.

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October 19-21: Trying to Rise

After the service, after the family left, after the house started to empty….we were still getting fed food by others, and we fed our starving souls by reading all the sympathy cards, reading all the sweet messages written on little paper hearts during the reception. We felt the love, the concern, the support – and it sustained us, to a large extent. But it couldn’t change what had happened.

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October 17 Sidenote: The Importance of Bulldogs


I’m going to plop this in here, in the timeline, although I am writing it seven months later. It’s important.

Beyond a wonderful, caring, loving (and sometimes hysterically funny) family and extended family, I am fortunate to have some incredible friends in my life – more like sisters.  This has surprised me, this gift. I think of myself as an introvert, and one who is not particularly skilled in the art of friendship; I am more reactor than initiator. I’ve been shy to be fully known, sure that my Inner Weirdo would eventually get found out and then – see ya later. But then you throw in a tragedy like this, and you find out how strong those ties actually are (or aren’t – but I experienced very little abandonment).

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October 10-16: On the Inside

Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.                                                                 Eric Liddell

The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die.            Psalm 116:15

I’ve kept a journal off and on since middle school, and in the last many years, that journal has become less a record and more of a conversation with God. Finding the time to be alone/create a space for that quiet and introspection was not always easy, with kids who had to catch the bus at ungodly hours, and then the adoption of a cat who acts more like a toddler and never wants me out of his sight.  So last May, I finally decided to take over the basement.  I could shut the door on the cat and actually focus. Plus, with Mark home for the summer, I borrowed his Keurig so I could brew my required cup of coffee without needing to go to the kitchen (which is near where the cat is kept at night – I know: ridiculous) at all. This space has become my sanctuary.

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October 10-16: On the Outside


I’ve never minded being the center of attention at times – I’ve served as president of organizations, led worship at church, spoken publicly.  But as we drove back home and my daughter and I scrolled through hundreds and hundreds of Facebook comments and messages on our phones, we could feel the swell of the wave that would carry us through the next days, weeks and months…and also overwhelm us at times. Our hearts were not the only ones broken…our Mark had traveled through life like a ray of sunshine, a friend to all he met. And the tragic and untimely loss of a young person touches even the hearts of strangers.

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October 9: What Must Happen

I’d called a funeral parlor (one near our home) in my “fug [yes, it’s a word] of grief,” the night before. Even as we spoke, I knew we would not need their services. The gentleman showed no humanity, no sense of humor when I said, half-jokingly, that we wanted to take Mark’s ashes and split them up into portions we could carry around in our purses. I can’t do business with someone like that.
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October 8: Certain Certainties

“Can I see him?”

I was discouraged from doing so. The head nurse said as a mom herself, she would not want to see her child like that.  Our good friend Bryan, a pastor recently assigned to a church near the trauma center, who came rushing to the hospital to be with us, gently and soberly advised waiting until later (after the funeral home had tidied him up a bit) or not seeing him at all. I listened, I understood, but I knew I had to see my son, my Marky Spark.

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October 8, 2015


I woke up on October 8th around 7am and made my usual pilgrimage to my basement sanctuary, coffee in hand, while my husband, Steve, slept. I browsed Facebook, checked email and thought about what it meant to draw close to God, to spend time with The Almighty. I wondered if checking email and Facebook was something I should do AFTER my reading and journaling (which is pretty much how I pray). And then I argued with myself about how I’d always been one to clear the deck, to clean my room or my desk off before getting to work.

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