“S” is for…

S.P.E.A.K.

This past Saturday I participated in an event near and dear to my heart.  The Youth Commission in my city hosts a S.P.E.A.K. (Suicide Prevention Education Awareness and Knowledge) week each year and one of the events is a 5K walk, which was Saturday. Having been touched–and devastated–by suicide with a friend several years ago and again with my step-daughter almost nine years ago, the number of people who showed up to band together and walk for this cause made my heart swell with a kinship to others who have had to endure such a traumatic event in their lives.

Suicide leaves  those left behind in its wake with so many questions.  Did I fail?  Was it my fault?  Should I have seen it coming?  Could I have seen it coming?  Could I have done something to stop it?

It also leaves us with so many “What if’s.” What if I would only have answered that one phone call.  What if I would have followed my gut and made that one last follow-up visit to check in.  What if I did/said something that triggered it.  What if s/he had wanted to open up to me and I wasn’t emotionally available.  What if

The fact is that all the questions and the what if’s will not bring someone back. The day I was finally able to release all of those questions to God, the healing was able to truly begin.  And it was important to me to know that healing does not mean forgetting.  To me, healing is the ability to be able to let the guilt go and use the experience to help others.  To bring awareness to a tragedy that brings so many people to their knees.

And it was when I was on my knees with grief that I was able to find God.  Right beside me, holding me up from falling onto my behind.

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Our guardian angel, shining bright.

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Letting those balloons fly high into the sky, each with the name of a loved one written on it, watching until they were no more, was beautiful and symbolic to letting our loved ones fly to the heavens. As the balloons disappeared from sight, we knew they were still there.  Just as our loved ones disappeared from our sight, we know they are still there.  And I found such comfort in that.

Peace.

“K” is for…

Kindness

I read a post yesterday on a blog I follow, In Her Words Avenue, and it reminded me of an incident that happened several years ago that, each time I think of it, reminds me never to underestimate the power of kindness.  Its ripple effect travels endlessly.

When my grandfather was lying in a hospital bed, the angel of death at his door, family members surrounded him as he breathed his last few breaths.  My grandfather was  the pillar, the cornerstone, of our family, and his death left a huge void in each of our hearts.

The deacon’s wife from my grandpa and grandma’s church, such a kind, warm-hearted woman, stayed with our family offering comfort in presence and in kind words. And I will never forget her words.  My grandpa’s name was Vince, and she said ever so gently, “The bus to heaven was coming through town, there was one seat available, and Vince was chosen for that last seat to heaven.”

Wow! Hearing my grandfather was on his way to heaven brought a blanket of peace.  I had not a single doubt that my grandpa would go to heaven, the God-loving, God-honoring man that he was, so it’s not that I needed to hear someone say it, but the validation in this kind woman’s words was music to my soul.

To this day, her words and her kindness  echo through my life when I least expect it.  She made a difference to a grieving family that day and long afterward.

That evening on her way home from the hospital, the deacon’s wife was in a car accident and went Home to her Lord.  The same Lord that so mercifully and lovingly sent her to comfort our family in our time of grief. He knew we needed her.

There wasn’t just one seat left on that bus, but two.  And I can just imagine my grandfather escorting her through the gates of heaven.

Today I’ve been encouraged to re-commit to making it a daily practice to live more intentionally, making it a point to say at least one kind thing to someone every day.

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”                     -Scott Adams (1957)

Peace.