I remember three main things about the minutes following this: 1.) the single worst moment of my life: when I had to call my father and mother-in-law to tell them their son was dead; 2.) the HUGE outpouring of love from friends--showing up when I needed them most; and 3.) the DECISION I made then and there in that emergency room to NOT let the devil win and to anticipate God's good plans for my life and the lives of my children.
The next days, weeks, months were not easy by any standard. I remember and appreciate the friends, family, and complete strangers who helped me out. I felt like I had been put on the fast-track to learn to trust in God. Suddenly my self-sufficiency was no where to be found. I learned to accept help, to accept gifts, to accept people asking me all kinds of personal questions. In today's world these are all difficult things to do. They make you vulnerable. But I saw amazing things happen: I got out of debt (a MIRACLE!); I reconnected with friends I hadn't talked to in years (and found that some of them had shared deep grief also); I developed sympathy for every person going through a tough time, realizing that for them, it meant everything even if their loss paled in comparison to mine; I saw the walls that kept me a "very private person" crumble; I learned just how much control I have over my thoughts and therefore my emotions.
Grief. If there is anything I have learned in the past few years, it is how different people grieve differently. I think that is necessary and good. There should not be a timeline. But by God's grace (and I do mean that; it is not just an expression), He helped me through my grief and I learned some principles that are useful in many areas of life. First: Don't run from it. Relive the memories. Cry about the things you miss. It is okay to be sad. Second: Don't wallow. There is a difference between grieving and wallowing and I could usually tell when I slipped into the "feeling sorry for myself" mode. I learned to take my thoughts captive and just not go there. Third: Fill your mind with the good as much as possible. I spent months listening to Keith Green music. Unlike almost everyone I know, I typically prefer listening to talking or silence as opposed to music, but not during this season of my life. The music really helped (it was Michael's favorite.)
God led me to a verse for this season of my life. Many people are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, but my verses were Jer. 29:4-7.
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, 'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and becomes the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.'
I read this every day for months. I felt like an exile. Like all I had planned in my life had come crashing down. I missed my best friend. As these words sank in, I found direction to live my life. I needed to continue living: play with my children, teach them, cook, garden, clean house. Michael was not coming back, but I would see him one day. One day I will no longer be an exile, but will go to my true Home. Michael is there and is more truly himself now than he ever was here on earth. I look forward to seeing him that fine day; but oh, so much more than that, I look forward to seeing my Jesus, face to face.