Thursday, September 27, 2012


We decided to take a trip to Napa/Sonoma for our 29th anniversary. Kind of a last minute idea, tho' we'd talked about going there for awhile. Since our 28th and Jill's 50th were awfully dark, we figured it was time to give it another go. That's what Visa is for! Some folks want to take their last breath as they spend their last dollar. Me, I want to breathe my last just as the bankruptcy papers are being filed.

We had a very nice time visiting the wine (and champagne!) country, and one day into San Francisco and over to Sausalito by ferry. We checked in at nearly every winery since that's how you get discounted tastings and tours. Makes it look like you had more than you did! And we smiled for pictures!

None of that removes the shadow, though. We hope that one day the shadow lightens.
On our way to SF on the ferry from Vallejo, which was close by so we didn't have to drive, there was a boy about 10 who looked a little like Ben did at that age, explaining something to his dad. He was smart, decisive, and knew something that he had to let his dad know. And I just thought, that was Ben. Just like him. Smart, knew what he was doing, decisive...and I wonder how much of that I shut down in him since I also am decisive and know the right things to do and sometimes don't hear others who disagree with me.

Where did that smart and tender heart go? Why did that young man make such a horribly wrong decision at the end?

We feel so inadequate, so tired, so fragile. We need God so desperately every day. Despite the smiles, there's a shadow underneath.

Thanks for prayers, we still need them, our bucket still leaks. We just need enough to get through today.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Losses. And Victories.

No, this isn't about the Packers or the Bears. It's about the losses and victories which are much bigger that are piling up all around us. The past few weeks, the devastating news just kept coming. Sunday at church, it was from a dear friend who has helped us in so many ways, who told me he lost his son two weeks ago. It turns out to be one year to the very day we lost our own Ben. I'd prayed for his son many times as he'd struggled with addiction most of his life...the good news is that he got clean, but another medical problem killed him.

The day before, as we walked for Ben on behalf of Suicide Prevention Services, hundreds of others walked with us. Hundreds. This isn't something you do on a beautiful Saturday morning because you have nothing else to do. Those hundreds have survived a suicide. Several folks had two names or pictures on their shirts. One gal I walked with talked about her brother who took his own life a few years back, and the whole family was still trying to process it, and she'd not really spoken of it until recently. The guilt and shame are nearly unbearable.

Then I get home to find a message from a long time friend telling me, for the first time, that her dad had taken his own life 40 years ago, when she was 20. Many times this past year she'd mentioned she'd been crying and praying for us. Now I know the tears are for more than just us...she's still carrying that pain from 40 years ago.

The week of Ben's anniversary, I learned of another man whose 19 year old son took his life, so grief on grief for me as I reached out to comfort him. Then, this past Friday I learned his dad had passed away Thursday night. Two weeks and two days after losing his do you bear it?

What do we say to all this? The beloved Fr. Bob (Ret.) from St. John Neumann in St. Charles, at a funeral for dear friends' daughter who died on New Years Eve, told the story that I'd not heard before, of folks on shore watching a ship sail over the horizon and exclaiming, "There she goes..." while on the other shore, folks were watching the horizon for the ship to arrive, and exclaiming, "There she is!"

In all but one or two of these cases above, I know that their ship made it to the other shore where they were greeted with great joy, and where they wait for us to appear. The loss on this shore is great. The gain on the other is immeasurable.

While the losses mount, so do the victories for God's people. He snatches victory literally from the jaws of defeat. Yet, for us remaining here, it's nearly insufferable waiting for that day when we reunite. Perhaps it just gets our eyes off of the delights of this world, and creates a yearning for Paradise. And a determination to help others find it, and encourage each other with the comfort with which we've been comforted. Only Jesus matters now.