It’s been eleven years since my twelve-year old son died in a car accident and most of the time I’m okay with it. I’ve grown accustomed to life without him. Most of the time, I don’t even think about it. The occasional thought of him brings a smile to my face and laughter to my heart. However, there are times like this past week, when my heart aches for him. My broken heart is heavy with emptiness and painfully raw as waves of grief suffocate me.
If you have a child, you know the depth of parental love. Bryan was my reason for living. His presence in my life created a desire in me to be a better, stronger person for his sake. When you’re a parent, you find a way to do what you couldn’t do before. I worked at jobs I hated so that I could provide for him. I found the courage to protect him from big creepy spiders and the fortitude to care for him when we were both sick with the flu. My life revolved around him. Even my memories are dated by how old Bryan was when something happened. We moved from the apartment into our first house when he was three, we separated when he was seven and I remarried when he was eleven. Bryan was an intricate part of every moment of my life whether we were in the same room or miles apart. And like any parent, I would have willingly and without hesitation traded places with him on that terrible day to save his life.
Bryan’s absence from my life was like a terrible severing – as if someone had sliced every cell in my body in half. I had to find another reason to get out of bed everyday and new things to spend my time and energy on. I even had to find a new way to remember things. Yesterday, a friend who was trying to comfort me told me that the pain I am feeling is testament to the great love I had and still have for my son. As I was considering his words, I thought about how Bryan was the one who taught me about how much my Heavenly Father loves me. What a terrible severing God must have felt when our sinfulness took us from his presence. Unlike a human father though, God had the ability to trade places with us, to die on our behalf so that we might live eternally with him. The bible tells us that through Christ’s sacrifice, we have been chosen and adopted into God’s family as children of God. He is our Heavenly Father and we are his precious children. The way that I loved Bryan is a dull reflection of the way that God loves me. I know from my experience with my own child that even when I make a mistake, God loves me. When I’m angry and disobedient, God still loves me. As I continued to reflect on these things, God gave me these words: “A love like that doesn’t die.”
The pain I’m feeling this week may indeed be a testament to the love I had and still have for my son but it is also a vivid reminder that I am wholly and deeply loved by my Heavenly Father, God of the Universe, Savior and Lord. If I can remember that, dwell on that, I can praise God for his love and his presence in my life. Because God’s love doesn’t die, there will never be a time when I can’t lean on his strength and rest in his comfort.