Wow. What a week. I wish I had some more time off to take. I only have three days of vacation left! Maybe I should have planned better. When it comes to grieving, planning is just thrown out the window! I have found that each day is different. I can wake up, be fine, and go downhill within a matter of an hour. Now just what causes that?
There are so many things and I can’t begin to describe them. As I have said before, we are all grieving differently in our house. Our entire family is grieving in different ways. One principle that our family stands on is that we have told our children we will never lie to them. We never lied to Trey during his cancer. Sometimes, when they ask hard questions, telling them the truth hurts. I remember having a difficult conversation with Trey that I had to admit a sin of the past because of questions he asked. It was a learning moment for him “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” I will never, ever forget that conversation standing in front of the refrigerator in our kitchen. Ever. But I told him the truth and he respected me for it. I remember getting a – Thanks mom. You might think by telling them ugliness it will push them into curiousity. Sometimes, they just want to know their parents are human.
Grieving is much the same way. I mentioned before that I am pursuing learning who my identity is in Christ. I am so appreciative of my pastor who is helping me down this road. I remember him telling me when we started that it would mean letting go of some of me. You know the phrase – I much decrease so that He can increase. Pastor Charles told me there would be hard moments of tears and gut wrenching things that I would face. At the time, I really didn’t grasp it in totality. In this grieving process, letting things go is letting go a little bit of Trey a piece at a time. The sadness. Yes, some is anger that I am dealing with right now. Even the strongest, STRONGEST of Christians cannot go through grieving without hitting an anger patch. And sometimes it’s very fleeting. Sometimes that anger is at people who do not understand your grieving who did not know your son personally. But I truly feel, if they are Christians, they will love us where we are, put their arms around us, and say I will walk with you or be here at the end because I have never experienced this. I can tell you, there are things going on in our household that you will never know. Things that hurt us to the core. Choices we have had to make for our family. New walks of life sometimes include new friends and letting go of old friends. God never promised it would be easy, only that He would love us through it. We were at dinner the other night with new friends and I told them how thankful I was for them because if it were not for Trey, we would not have cultivated our precious friendship – and we have so much in common!
So, how do I let go a little bit of Trey at a time? I don’t have that answer yet. Let go is not a good phrase – learn to cope, maybe. My wound is not healed. It is healing though and that’s what I am working on. Now you are wondering when I lied. I’m probably not the only one. I said that when I got the tattoo, I would take his bracelet off because I had the tattoo. I have had this on for a year. It would be like not wearing my watch. Why do I feel it identifies me? It doesn’t. It’s a rubber bracelet that he never saw. But when I leave the house and I don’t have it on, I panic. That’s not good. I’m just not over that hump yet. I thought the tattoo would satisfy the need for the bracelet. What I am finding, nothing is satisfying the need for Trey.
This is where the change needs to come. There should be nothing that satisfies us like our need for Christ and our desire to be fed by His word. I know this in my head and I know his in my heart and I am craving the word to find out how can I be MORE like Christ and LESS like Lisa. Oh, that’s what my boy desired. It’s just a matter of moving all the memories of my son to the side and letting Christ satisfy my longing. I think I’ll turn that switch on tomorrow. I wish it was a switch! Emotions are a hard thing to switch on and off. YOU CANNOT JUST SWITCH EMOTIONS OFF. TREY DIED AND IF YOU LOVED HIM, THE FEELINGS YOU HAVE FOR HIM JUST DON’T GO AWAY. Hello!!!! Trey died! I have to tell myself that (and others). He will never come back, you will never talk to him again, and feelings will never be returned. Now, swallow that. There are days I think, oh my gosh, Trey is dead. He’s actually dead. It’s a part of life you have to accept. But how does a mother accept her baby boy is dead? R.E.A.L.I.T.Y. CHECK! But if I don’t grieve, I will live this way the rest of my life and that is NOT what God desires. He desires for us to bear fruit as He talks about in John 15. We are the branches and He is the vine. Shriveling up is not an option for my type A personality. Okay, some of you can stop laughing. There is a bright side. I see him in so many of his friends. And for that, I am very thankful. He’s a little bit of Daniel Roberts (a lot actually), and Tim Few and Cody Jordan and Hunter Byer and Thomas Boone and Corbin Peeper – so many more.
My boss, Joe, verified yesterday that birthdays are much harder than the day he died. The day he died he went to be with Jesus. That’s a celebration. The day of his birth is not a celebration. I will and have been mourning for that day. He came into the world with so much hope. Every parent dreams what their child will be like in elementary, middle, and high school. Will they like sports? Or will they be musical? Will they love to read, or will you have to buy spark notes? Will you fight with homework or will it come easy? Will they make good choices in friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, colleges, careers and ultimately a spouse. How many children will they have…and I stop there. So many dreams, gone. As a teen reading this, it will not bother you because you have that future to look forward to and that’s okay. As an adult, maybe you have experienced this loss. This is how you understand the grieving of birth is so much stronger than the grieving of death. That’s why I have said that his senior year will be difficult because it is filled with so many markers during the year and milestones.
I had a client in our office walk by my desk yesterday and remark about the football pictures of Trey. He just talked and talked about his smile and how handsome he was. He was from Little Rock and did not know the story. I proceeded to tell him and did not go into detail. I have a calling card with my blog site on it and I welcomed him to read about Trey and his faith (and our family). Sometimes you can’t tell a fourth-month history in five minutes, you can only plant a seed and let God handle the rest. As I handed him the card, I distinctly remember praying, Lord let him use this. It was just a small grasp and wanting to see God work.
Another song I sang to Trey when he was a baby was the song “How Can I Live Without You” by Leann Rimes. It had just been released. When your baby is born, you are SO in love with your baby. It’s a love that is all encompassing. You just can’t imagine not having that little bundle in your life. I remember crying when I would sing that to him. Was God preparing me? Of course, I do believe that God already knew Trey’s path. Matter of fact, Trey had surgery the end of his first grade year to remove a swollen lymph node because we were already suspicious. What a coincidence – He didn’t finish out 1st grade at school or 11th grade at school, but he still passed!
I think I can sum this up by saying that it will take more than just a year to grieve. Some have not even begun to grieve. I know his football team misses him. Some of his teammates were in the room when he died. I sure love those boys – all those boys. And no one, NO ONE, will ever tell the Erwin family that we are not loved by the Collierville Dragon family. We appreciate you for helping our grieving be a little easier on some days. Our mighty dragon left a larger than life impression on a small community that will hopefully never forget him, his smile, his bravery, his wisdom, and most importantly, his faith.
Yep, I lied. I thought I could do this and I can’t. But you know what – I can do ALL things through Christ. That’s my hope, my faith, our faith and strangely, that’s where I put my grief – in Christ. He knows my pain and catches each tear as I drive home from work.
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture – John 15:1-17 I am giving it to you in the Message version because I like the way it reads. My desire, to continue to bear fruit for the Lord. I do not want my grieving in any way to hinder my growth in Christ and what He has for me to do in order to bear fruit. So, He’s pruning me right now to be a better servant for Him. I do a lot of repenting, a lot of thanking, and a lot of begging for God to work. If you are grieving, or suffering, maybe you’ll connect with this song by ffh also.
Next Wednesday is Trey’s 17th Birthday. It will be very hard. As long as I have Jay, Collin, family, and I think, as planned, the CHS football team around us, on the field, we’ll be fine. Trey will be there – with his team. And the Lord will be there. Moving.
1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
9-10 “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done—kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
11-15 “I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
17 “But remember the root command: Love one another.