Friday, February 26, 2016

He never lets go

Dear Matt,
Your sister is graduating this year. It's hard to believe, and it brings so many emotions to the surface. Once again, the waves of "if only" and "what if" rhythmically pound the shores of my sorrow. I've waded long enough in the waters, however, to know that I will not drown. I know enough now to "take captive every thought." I will not allow my mind to go "there," for I know there is nothing productive in it. Instead, I will focus on the blessings. I will smile and cherish the memories and give thanks that I got to be your mom. I will look for the "God-Nods." I will give thanks for God's goodness and grace.

Your sister also got her first job. (Actually, two jobs!) I know you'd be pretty psyched and happy for her, especially regarding the summer job. God has been good. With every milestone your brothers and sisters reach, my heart twinges with joy and grief. (What irony that we really do live on Bittersweet Lane.) I shake my head in disbelief, yet am held solid because I know that my Redeemer lives and that He has a good and perfect plan.

This moving through milestones is tricky business, but God's hand is obvious, never letting go of mine. As I plan your sister's graduation party and prepare for her "leaving the nest," I am struck by how familiar this event feels to losing you. It has left me feeling quite disoriented. I cannot, try as I might, put words to it. However, I came across this article from 2006 a few weeks ago to find that Beverly Beckham had, indeed, found the words. I have read and re-read it several times, and what I appreciate most is this line:
It's not a death. And it's not a tragedy.
But it's not nothing, either. - Beverly Beckham
It occurred to me why this line so resonated with me. It's because it acknowledges a mother's heart. It is validation. Validation is what every grieving parent wants, as well. Just acknowledge our child, no matter their "departure" date. I ache to do the things with you that I am doing with your sister, but I know that that is not the thinking to embrace. I must lean into truth, into "It is what it is" and continue to trust God. I must stay here in the moment. I don't want to cheat your siblings out of their special moments and milestones. I want to find joy.

I know that you would want that, too, Matt. I know that God also sees my pain and my struggle. He knows the fight for joy, how it doesn't come easy. He never fails to amaze me with His grace. Several weeks ago, it showed up big when I decided to join the audio-visual team at church. It was a position you loved doing, too, and were so good at. I never imagined I'd be doing it some day, either, but the need was great, and I decided to give it a try.

Wouldn't you know that God was already preparing me. Several days before my first practice with the team, the song by Matt Redman, "You Never Let Go" came on the radio. Oh, what emotions and memories this song brings up, memories of your funeral. However, little by little over the last four and a half years, I've been able to tolerate it more and more. I hadn't heard it in at least six months or more, but early last week, it played twice the same day. Thursday came, and I showed up for av practice. The worship team gathered to run through the upcoming songs for Sunday. I sat behind the sound board and took a deep breath, trying not to think of the last time I saw you sitting in this exact same spot. As they played the first few notes, and I glanced at the song list, I shook my head and let out a knowing sigh.

God's grace showed up big as I pulled up the first slide and the worship team sang the first line to, yep, you guessed it, Matt Redman's "You Never Let Go." I felt like God was saying, "He's right here." It was a God-nod, for sure. I silently thanked God for His grace. My heart filled with peace as my eyes blinked back tears. It was yet another step of healing.

I thought of God's grace, and then of your sister's graduation. I know I don't have to worry about it. I don't have to worry and wonder how I'm going to deal with her leaving and graduating because I know that His grace will be sufficient. It will be there when I need it. God's grace is not something we encounter in advance. It's not a transaction or "cash advance." It is lived moment by moment, poured out in abundance at exactly the right time. It is sufficient because He never lets go.

I love you.

Love, Mom


  1. As always, you speak for both of us - hugs ❤️

  2. Your daughter’s graduation must be bittersweet; how can a mother not think of the, what could’ve and should’ve beens. When you spoke of taking a position that Matt once had in church I could almost feel what you were going through. It takes bravery and a lot of energy to function after we lose a child, but I think we have to find ways to keep busy. My busy is gathering every speck of information I can to tell my son Chad’s story. It’s just something I have to do.

    Love your writing, and I look forward to reading your other posts. XO

    1. Thank you, KJ. I'm glad you posted! Much courage and peace to you as you do the brave work, as well, of telling Chad's story. I have no doubt he's proud of his mama. (((hugs)))