What kind of message is this?
I’m writing this on the road. Driving north along the California Coast. We met Adam and Amanda briefly in Atascadero. Then up to the Trees of Mystery and a really good Native American Museum. Further north to the cheese factory at Tilamook… and then on to Astoria and Portland. Turning south to family in Chico and then back down for Thanksgiving in LA.
It’s a message, really.
What kind? I don’t really know. I don’t think it is one of those purely evangelical bring people to Jesus messages. I don’t think it is one of those inspirational, bring you to tears and make you smile messages. I don’t think it is one of those affirmation pep talks or feel good homilies. Nor is this some fire and brimstone sermon. I don’t want to pound you or hammer you… or make you feel particularly bad. But I’m not really hear to fix you either.
I want to be encouraging. I want to offer you something that you may need… and maybe if I know you- that is what I am doing. Maybe this is a bit of insight and experience… a tool you can put in that box, and take out if the specific need ever arises. The absolute truth is that even though I hope this can be encouraging for some one else, I’m only really writing this for myself. It is more about process than product.
I don’t have to wonder what the worst thing I can ever hear is. I don’t have to imagine what the worst day of my life would be like… and I don’t have to guess about the worst phone call I can ever get. I know what it sounds like at just past midnight to hear my wife hear her youngest son has just been found dead by his own hand. The sound of a mother mourning at night… I have heard it. I know what it is like to collapse in a pile on the floor, unable to move or speak. I know what it feels like for a dad to run his hand through his son’s hair for the last time and feel his ice cold scalp. I know what it is to have a box of ashes and memories.
The loss of a child. It’s one of those life shattering events that tears you apart from the inside. It impacts not only the moment, but your future and all your memories of your past. And you don’t ever get over it. I’ve come to accept that.
But I won’t cry for yesterday
There’s an ordinary world
Somehow I have to find
And as I try to make my way
To this ordinary world
I will learn to survive.
This is a journey back. Travelling is good for that… not just for finding jerky and trinkets. But finding my ordinary world. Going from shattered to something new, but familiar. From a very cold and dark place to sunlight and antique shops and clam chowder. From pain and numbness to something else. It is finding bits and pieces at Anchor Bay, or on a dark trail in Big Sur. Treading carefully inside. Taking measured risks. Breathing. Praying. Talking to God. Eating waffles.
And there is something eternal and large in Redwoods and surf. In sunsets over the ocean or that mid day Northwest shower. There is something in the ruins of moss covered barns or in scenic hills of cows grazing under poofy clouds. Sleeping in the bed of a truck on mornings too cold to leave your bag or the feel of the road passing beneath the wheels of the truck. Passing logging trucks and old VW vans.