Who would’ve thought that forever could be severed by the sharp knife of a short life…
One year ago today, I found out first-hand the true meaning of the word tragedy.
It’s a word that I thought I understood. You read about tragedies in the paper, watch them on the news at night, nod sadly when a friend tells you of someone else’s bereavement. You act like you know exactly what they’re talking about.
But you don’t know.
You don’t know until you get that call.
For me, it came early on a Sunday morning. Not so early that I suspected something was wrong. In fact, I figured it was my mom calling to see if I was going to church. I was planning to tell her no, because I’d done a little too much partying the night before.
I had no idea that she was about to tell me my cousin Jeff had been in an ATV accident and wasn’t going to live.
It felt like the wind had been knocked right out of me. Like I’d been punched in the gut. I sobbed. Cried out. Oh no! Oh no! And then couldn’t say anything more. Just sobs. Loud sobs, ripping through me.
I had never cried like that before in my whole life.
It’s a moment you hope to never experience. Suddenly, your world is not right. Everything is wrong. Everything has been knocked completely off-kilter. You simply can’t believe something like this could happen to such good people.
Grief. It began for me that day. That long, horrible day, which I spent, oddly enough, at the ball field in Carp, where my brother’s ball team went on to win the Gil Read Memorial Tournament. I don’t know how he was able to play that day. I hid behind big, dark sunglasses, hoping no one could see my swollen, red-rimmed eyes, and the tears that never really stopped filling my eyes. I watched some ball, hoping to be distracted even just a little, but if you asked me what happened during those games, I couldn’t tell you. I know they won. But while my eyes were trained on the ball field, my mind was elsewhere. Flashing on memories, praying for a miracle, thinking of family and friends gathered at a hospital not that far away.
The following day, Jeff passed away, two days before my 27th birthday.
One year ago today.
In the days that followed, it took very little for me to dissolve into tears. But it’s funny, looking back now, how eventually, you just start moving on. That week of mourning, I felt like nothing would ever be normal again. I felt like I would stay in this hazy world of grief forever.
Somewhere along the way, though, it happens. You start to smile again. You start to laugh again. You start going places, and doing things, and life just has this crazy way of marching on.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think of him. I think of him every day. Every single day. And sometimes, when I least expect it, a whirlwind of memories will leave me absolutely breathless. It will catch me off-guard, and leave me thinking, No…this couldn’t have really happened…
But there’s this thing called faith. When the world crumbled all around my family, I doubted mine. I questioned it. I struggled to find it.
And it was there all along, waiting for me to lean on it. It has helped me through. I think it has helped us all through, whether we realize it or not.
I don’t know the reason bad stuff like this happens. I’ve spent much of this past year asking why. And today, a whole year later, I still don’t have that answer.
But I have faith. Faith that we will all be together again, someday.
One year ago today, I had no idea just exactly how much I was going to need that faith…