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.

11 thoughts on “Transitions

  1. You are always in my daily prayers. Even tho I do not personally know you, except for Caring Bridge, I wish I lived closer to you to give you hugs, hugs, hugs!!!! Boy do those hugs help!! I know! It feels so good!!! Here is a BIG HUG thru e-mail. A friend who knows what you are going through. In the grip of His hands and hugs!!! Mimi Koonce

  2. I don’t know you and I do not know what you are going through, can’t even imagine. My son has had some health problems, in fact had brain surgery Dec. 4. Just ‘thinking’ of losing him is as close as I can come to what you are feeling. It’s unbearable. (Thank goodness for the Lord!) A friend of mine lost her young son in a terrible accident, years ago. One thing she said that bothered her so much was, “I’m so afraid everyone will forget him.” That hit me and has stuck with me. Life goes on for everyone and she knew, in time, her son would be forgotten by others. I know it’s only been 6 mos but please know I still pray for you and your family everyday. Trey must have been a pretty spectacular young man to read and hear how he changed the lives of so many.

  3. Please Say Their Names
    The time of concern is over. No longer are we asked how we”re doing. Never are the names of our loved one mentioned to us. A curtain descends. The moment has passed. Lives slip from frequent recall. There are exceptions: close and compassionate friends, sensitive and loving family. Still look. Still ask. Still listen. Thank God for them. For most, the drama is over. The spotlight is off. Applause is silent. But for us the play will never end. The effects on us are timeless. What can be said, you ask? Please say “their names” to us.

    Love does not die.

    Their names are written on our lives. The sound of their voices replay within our minds. You may feel they are dead. We feel they are of the dead and still they live. They ghost-walk our souls, beckoning in future welcome. You say, “They were our loved one”; we say, ” They are”. Please say “their names” to us and say “their names” again.

    It hurts to bury their memory in silence. What they were in flesh is no longer with us. What they are in spirit stirs within us always. They were of our past but they are part of our now. They are our hope for the future. Please understand we cannot forget. We would not if we could. We know that you cannot know, yesterday we were like you. Understand that we dwell in both flesh and spirit. We do not ask you to walk this road. The ascent is steep and the burden heavy. We walk it not by choice. We would rather walk it with them in the flesh, looking not to spirit worlds beyond. We are what we have to be. What we have lost, you cannot feel. What we have gained you may not see. Please say “their names” for they are alive.

    We will meet them again, although in many ways we’ve never parted. Their spirits play light songs, appear in sunrises and sunsets. They are real and shadow, they were and they are. Please say “their names” to us and say “their names” again. They are our loved one and we love them as we always did. More each day.

    PLEASE, SAY THEIR NAMES

    ~ Author Unknown

  4. I just felt compelled to share my gratitude and love for your family. I started following Treys story and continued following it to the day of his beautiful service. He changed me, changed my perspective about what is real, what is possible, what is handed to us, and what is not promised. It became a personal mantra for me to try to view things as trey would have..the challanges, the setbacks, the odds. I have had a dream of working in the fashion industry since I was a teenage girl, now in my late twenties some would laugh at me giving it a go at this point in my life, husband, stepson, family dog…. You get the picture. But you see Trey changed my thought process… Pain seemed laughable when I thought what kind of REAL painTrey was dealing with, giving up because it seemed impossible or pointless wasn’t even an option … Trey didn’t get to give up, he would NEVER give up.
    I never met trey but I was there singing those beautiful songs as all those who had loved him his whole life said goodbye, and some like myself stood in the back grasping my husbands hand singing at the top of my lungs because that kid did something to me… He changed me , pushed me back toward faith and back towards my dreams . Now I am living in Chicago, signed to one of the top agencies in the industry, working my dream job….trey was there with me through that entire journey, he had a hand in this……he will always be part of each of the lives he touched. Thank you for letting me share. Trey changed my life.

  5. I just wanted to tell you that I think and pray for you and your family often. I have read all of your posts from the first one on caringbridge. I have never met Trey but God used him to impact my life. The same can be said about you. Thank you for sharing Trey’s story and for containing to share yours.

  6. This was the weekend of D-Now at Crossgates Baptist Church (Ryan Mullins is our youth pastor). The band led worship for the whole church this morning. When they sang “Ten Thousand Reasons,” I thought of your family, and of Trey, and stopped to pray for y’all.

    • Thank you Betsy! We also sang 10,000 Reasons on Sunday. I didn’t make it through it because it was the first time I had sung it in the sanctuary since his service. I loved seeing the pics on facebook of your DNOW. It looked like God moved in a mighty way. We love Ryan and Ann more than you know and Trey did too. Thank you again for your prayers. Our DNOW is coming up and it will be hard for us because that was when he began to get very ill.

  7. I do not know you personally Erwin family. Yet, I keep coming back for understanding and inspiration from Trey. I appreciate your sharing and I am so sorry for you loss. God Bless!

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