When you lose a loved one, I think everyone would agree that it’s after the “busyness” of the memorial service – and after all the friends stop coming by on a daily basis – that the real pain starts to arrive. Because now you have to go back to living your life, you have to get back to your jobs, you have to get back to some sort of normalcy.
But how do you do that really? Because it seems as if your life will never be normal again.
The first few weeks after Matthew’s memorial service were brutal. It was impossible to sit at home and not think about what Matthew would be doing right now if he were still alive. I could picture him with his little strut walking around inside our fenced backyard with his baseball cap on. I could remember the way he wore certain clothes, and certain expressions he would get on his face at times.
And then you would hear the birds singing outside – you feel like yelling at them to STOP! Or we would hear our neighbors outside in their yards laughing and enjoying themselves. How could they carry on like that? Didn’t they remember that we had just lost our son? At times it seemed as though the world had just come to an end.
However we had our precious little baby Jeffrey at home who was only 8 months-old, so we needed to maintain whatever composure we could. But thoughts would keep running around in my head, “What is Jeffrey thinking? Does he remember his brother Matthew? Does he wonder where he went?”
However as I wrote in my post The Day When Jesus Became Real, I now had a real faith and trust in Jesus my Savior, and so I fell into His arms often when I just couldn’t cope anymore. It was strange to me how my day could be going so horribly, and then all of a sudden I could feel a kind of peace wash over me – almost like I felt like His arms were wrapping around me. I knew He was there right beside me.
I remember one day in particular when I was upstairs in our bedroom, and I was having a complete meltdown as I lay on the floor. I started crying out to Jesus, “We’ll never be able to take Matthew to Disneyland!”
Then it was like I heard His still small voice saying softly to me, “Do you not think where he is right now is better than Disneyland?”
Oh my – of course it was! Then I saw a vision: I saw Matthew up walking up in the clouds, holding Jesus’ hand. Matthew was looking up and smiling at Jesus’ face, and Jesus was smiling back at him. Matthew was so happy! I was so thankful at that moment that the Lord had taken Matthew home the way He had, with no pain or suffering.
After taking a couple weeks off of attending church, we knew that we needed to get back into the routine. It would have been very easy to just turn away, but we knew that we needed to be around our friends, and we needed to keep getting fed the words of God.
How hard it was to go back at first! The expressions on our friends’ faces varied: Either we would see them start to tear up, or we would see them quickly look away pretending that they didn’t see us. And quite frankly a lot of the time we were thankful that we didn’t have to acknowledge them because it was just too hard.
During many a sermon, either Gary or myself would suddenly start crying at something that reminded us of Matthew. One time I got so distraught during the sermon that I had to get up and run into the bathroom sobbing – the pain was just too intense.
Yet through our faith in our Lord, we persevered. We knew that the only way to become stronger was to believe and trust our Father.
A few months later both Gary and I were able to give our testimonies. Gary spoke during the church service, and I spoke during our women’s retreat. It was through these times that we began to get a glimpse of how God was going to use us to glorify Him, and to help others through their pain.