Transitions

It is amazing after six months that we are still receiving encouraging letters, notes, cards, emails, etc.  Please, if you think of us, continue to pray and send us notes.  They do brighten our day and remind us that Trey is not forgotten.  For me, he is every thought.  But like a friend told me, he doesn’t think about Trey everyday, and that’s normal.

I know this is going to sound very strange.  Our youth minister of six years, Keith Cochran, is moving to Tupelo to be a pastor of a church.  The church is getting a wonderful family and exceptional preacher and teacher, not only in Keith but in Bretta too.  The Cochran family has been a big part of the Erwin family for the last couple of years.  I told Keith a couple of weeks ago that I felt like I was losing Trey all over again because that was how deep the loss of the Cochran family goes for me.  Here is an example:

There was Wednesday night, about 8 p.m., that we received a call from Dr. Tauer who was Trey’s oncologist at West Clinic.  We received news that we would need to make a decision that evening whether Trey would go into surgery on Friday if a stent procedure did not work.  There was a good possibility that Trey would not survive the surgery or if he did, the recovery would be long and difficult.  All of his friends, especially his brother, was on a mission trip to New Orleans.  I immediately called Keith because Trey’s first request was I want my brother home.  Keith and Bretta were at our house in a heartbeat.  Trey listed the people he wanted home and we proceeded to call the parents to make arrangements to fly the four friends and Collin home.  Keith had a bad migraine (another thing we have in common) and we made the decision to drive to pick up the kids.  Keith said he would go to get them.  I said NO WAY!  Bretta and a friend left late that night and drove to New Orleans to pick up Trey’s friends and brother to come be with him through the next couple of days.  You see, I just don’t know of many ministers that would do that.  (Well, Ryan Mullins would.)  Friends and their wives do that.  Line drawn. 

Many of you might have gone through this with your hormonal teen.  Trey started to set his boundaries of his manhood.  I completely did NOT understand!  This was my baby (with armpit hair) telling me that he was not afraid of me and his dad.  I told him okay, there wasn’t anything we did to make it that way.  He would just state that out of the blue.  I remember one night just running out of the house around the corner to Keith and B’s house.  Yes, they live around the corner.  I was at a loss.  And Keith proceeded to tell me this was normal.  WHAT?  Once I stopped reacting to Trey’s tail feathers hitting me in the face, he stopped acting that way.  Wow.  And we have another one to go through.  I pray for Keith and Bretta.  They have a house full of GIRLS!  We tease them because his  two dogs are even girls!

The best example is how they live.  They do live like Jesus and Keith and Bretta are examples of what people need to strive to be.  I know they will read this and say GOSH! But I know the example they set for Trey, Collin, and both Jay and me.  More than that, for Germantown Baptist Church and our community.  What a blessing.

So, just as our transition is not easy, neither will theirs be, even though we pray for it to be.  They are very excited about this new journey and honestly, we are happy for them.  Some new paths that God guides us down are not always easy and they can be very scary.  Our paths are similar, somewhat.  Both of our families walk each day in faith that God will provide for us what we need for the next day.  For Keith and Bretta, that will be for their house to sell in Collierville, or adjusting to their new home, or simply to provide a word from God to preach his next sermon.  For us, it is to just breathe one more day, take one more step.

Our transition is still a grieving one.  I received an email from a friend that shared with me some tips on how they handled the loss of their child.  They are SPOT ON!  I thought I’d share them with you.  I’ve heard it a thousand times that people just do not know what to say to us.  Here’s a hint.

THE ONLY THING’S TO SAY:

            “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

            “There are no words.”

Truly – even just after 6 months, those are the only 2 consistent things helpful to hear.

Don’t say — it’s going to get better. (It will eventually, but that is not helpful to hear right now UNLESS          perhaps YOU HAVE ACTUALLY LIVED IT. . . sometimes not even then.)

Never say — after you survive the year of firsts . . . everything will seem better! Stupid, stupid, stupid. . . I used to think it and might help in another loss, but not your child.

Don’t compare this to any other death or experience you have lived through. NEVER a parent or sibling – especially as an adult.

Don’t ask or don’t keep asking — What can I do for you?  If we knew what would help or what we needed, we’d ask!  Prayer is the best!

Don’t say: “How are you?” – Say – “It’s good to see you.”  Or if you really want to know, you’ll probably get tears and much more than you want to hear.

Abide:  Have someone “be” with them/us.  Especially to just “listen” to them/us.  DON’T try to have answers!  There are none right now.

This may not sound compassionate.  And close friends of course, will sometimes grieve with us.  But it is not the same as losing your child. (I’m just telling it like it is.)

In the beginning, take care of simple needs – if they are comfortable with that.  They need it, but might always have been the giver.  I appreciated it so much.  Probably didn’t even notice what all was done for us.

Have some one go with them anytime they are leaving home. . . for appointments, grocery, errands. . . The grocery was brutal.  I would never have thought it!!  The choices you make in the grocery for this child, for each member of the family.  I can walk an aisle and still gravitate toward his favorite foods without thinking.

NEVER has intercessory prayer been more needed or more valuable!!  There are many times where at most I just groan and say, “Lord, Lord. . . help me/us please!”

Do NOT worry about notes and thank you’s!  That time will come later.  I WILL get it done! 

Books sometimes help people.  After a few, it hasn’t helped very much.  It is nice to have your thoughts/emotions affirmed in words.  It hasn’t really helped me to read about someone else’s devastating experience. . . at least not now.

I think some of these hints fit the Cochran family.  Pray for them, Pray for them, Pray for them!  Remember, they will be overwhelmed for a little while.

 Last night, the band played David Crowder.  He is Keith’s favorite.  They played “Oh How He Loves Us.”  That just happened to be one of Trey’s favorite songs.  Of course, I lost it.  I’m so thankful for my friend Becky Roberts who saw me from across the room as I was standing in a row by myself.  She just knew I was missing Trey.  And that’s what she said, “You are missing Trey, aren’t you?”  I said, “Yes, that was one of his favorite songs.”  I would like to end with the lyrics to that song.  A song that is so powerful.  Another thing Trey and Keith had in common, a bond; a bond between all our youth, all Christians.  He loves us.

Oh How He Loves UsTrey Praise

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves

We are His portion and He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way

And oh, how He loves us
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us so
how he loves

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how he loves
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.