Lessons Learned in 10 Years

To be honest, I have started this blog probably five times with five different topics. One being things I have learned over the last 10 years since Trey’s death. I want to be encouraging, uplifting, and point others to Jesus, who has been my comfort. But there has been…

10 years of not driving after just learning;

10 years of Collierville graduations;

10 years of friends getting married;

10 years of new babies;

10 years of new jobs after college;

10 years of an empty chair;

and I’m supposed to be okay with this, yet I am not. I know, no one said I had to be okay. But in our culture, it is taboo to talk about the children we have lost…especially say their name. My child is no different than yours, and my love is no less, mine is just in heaven. Matter of fact, my love might be greater because I cannot touch him, talk with him, smell his cologne when he walks through the room, watch him primp in the mirror, hear him yell at the television during a football or basketball game, watch him play the sports he loved, and most of all, be a witness to him worshipping Jesus. Some days I feel so robbed of time.

When I attended a bereaved parents retreat in May, it did not go unnoticed to me that Trey has been in heaven the longest. I listened to people and thought to myself, “It’s been 10 years so why don’t I feel any different than those that lost their child several months ago?” I feel as empty as the sweet lady who lost her daughter in March to cancer. Fact is, that emptiness is never filled, our hearts never “mend”, we are never the same, and we shouldn’t be.

I have prayed and prayed that I would have the opportunity to talk with Collin about Trey and things that were on my heart. Collin drove me to Madison Molnar’s wedding and on the way home, we were able to have the conversation I had wanted for some years. Without giving details, it was so good to hear that he is no longer angry. I told him if he was, it was okay because sometimes I am. We are human. We talked about marriage and children. Collin said he does not plan to have any children because he does not want to watch his child go through what Trey went through. My heart melted for him. He said when the time comes, he would adopt. We talked about how much he has changed in 10 years. Going from 12 to 22 has been a hard road for Collin, but I have clearly watched the hand of God in his life.

Trey’s life, illness, and death not only changed our family, but many others. My sister and I were talking about a friend who thought her daughter was saved until Trey’s funeral. Another friend walked the pancreatic cancer journey with his father, and because of Trey’s story that he was able to share, his father is in heaven. As a Christian, seeing God be glorified should be one of our main daily objectives. Trey did that with his life, in his illness, and through his death. But I’m still his mother.

I will still grieve for the rest of my life; holidays will never become easier; my love will never dim; and this heart will forever feel shattered. Just because Trey is in heaven, as I have said many times, I will not stop saying his name or telling his story, thus the Polo hats.

What have I learned in 10 years? Some things may seem crass, but still important in the grieving process.

  1. The love I have for Trey is no greater than the love another parent has for their child, especially a bereaved parent. Loving him and shedding enumerable tears will continue until I see Jesus face to face.
  2. As much as I would like for this to have happened, the world did not stop when Trey died. People kept going to work, kids went to school, families planned trips to Disney/beach, and the sun rose and set even though I begged to go back for one more day, one more moment.
  3. Do not have high expectations of others, because they will disappoint you (and not of their own doing). They have not walked in your shoes and any bereaved parent will tell you that you would not wish this hell on anyone in order to know the depth of pain.
  4. I’m a member of a club I cannot leave, did not choose, yet I pay dues every waking moment.
  5. Everyone grieves differently, even a mother and father. Yet you must respect each other and there must be grace.
  6. Photos and videos I have of Trey are some of my most prized possessions. It is a harsh reality he will forever remain 15 years old. Document each moment of life because only God knows the day and time you will be called to be with Him.
  7. Learn to be forgiving. People will do and say things that will blow your mind. Make sure you have an outlet.
  8. Lean into your grief. Accept grief and have the coping skills to manage your day, and it is day-to-day. It will hit like a tidal wave, knock you off your feet, and keep you in a frozen state.
  9. Just because you are grieving does not mean you are weak in your faith, that God is not working in your life, and that you do not have value to your church and community. Satan is the father of lies and I have listened to him too many times and convinced myself I am alone on this journey, when it is very much the opposite.
  10. There is nothing I could have done to change the trajectory of Trey’s journey. I firmly believe, as it says in Psalms, God formed him in my womb, knew his name before he was born, every hair on his head was numbered, and the plan for his life was laid out before he took his first breath. Let me be clear, I have to remind myself of this DAILY! A mother’s instinct is to protect and there was nothing I or Jay could have done to protect him from the cancer that invaded his body.

Through all the turmoil, grief, and suffering, I still believe God’s plan is perfect. God does not ask nor does He need our permission to carry out His plan. We need to be willing to be molded to fulfill it. Is it easy? Absolutely not. The last 10 years have been difficult in ways you will never understand. But God understands. He is faithful.

I cannot and will not hide from my grief, because it would also mean I would be hiding from Trey. I am not over the loss; I will never be over it; and I will always crave for Trey to be remembered.

How can you feel joy, pain, grief, and love all at the same time? Because you have known deep sorrow and the precious gift of unspeakable joy that life can bring. And a puppy helps too!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials; for you know the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2-3

“And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come; still my soul sings your praise unending, ten thousand years and then forevermore.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship your Holy Name.” 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman

And Trey took his last breath, opened his eyes and saw His Savior. My Jesus.

I miss you, my goofy boy.

Healthy In Heaven – July 31, 1996-July 5, 2012