Tragedy came to call in 2006; not a welcomed guest. I certainly didn’t invite it and I hated it. No one wants to be tested this way. Tragedy ripped my family apart and changed the landscape of our lives forever. On February 13, 2006 my youngest son Luke accepted a ride home after Lacrosse from a fellow student, an acquaintance he barely knew. This young driver made a very reckless decision with his vehicle resulting in a very serious accident, which claimed the life of my son. Luke was buried on February 18th, one day shy of his sixteenth birthday. A devastating moment to say the least. Personally, I had to process this and I am still processing this experience through the eyes of my faith. I know this will be a lifelong journey. This loss is part of the fabric of my soul and I will never get over it, yet somehow I am learning to assimilate this loss into my life; giving it meaning and purpose. Tragedy is a hard teacher and one of the mysteries of this experience is that I have learned some valuable transforming life lessons. I want to believe that this is good and ultimately, I get to choose how this will change me and the way I live and see life.
Life is fragile. It can change in the blink of an eye. We are not guaranteed a tomorrow. I am choosing to live in the moment. I force myself to quit looking at the past and look ahead at the uncertainty of the future. I fail at this sometimes but when I stay in today I don’t rob myself. I position myself to fully see the gifts of the day. This is such a new way of thinking. It is freeing. I try to be more intentional with the way that I live the gift of my own life. Evaluating and making room for what really matters; letting go of the insignificant stuff. Expectations are less important, allowing life to just unfold. This is my way of honoring Luke’s life. He was such a free spirit; his spontaneity and sense of humor made life fun, adventurous, and unpredictable. As his mom, I didn’t always know how to bridle all that energy. Now I see, he really taught me. I hear him say, “Mom, laugh more. Live more. Be more.”
Love is a gift. It is risky but it sustains when all else fails. Like other moms, my children, by virtue of who they are, get full and free access to every chamber of my heart. Moms love pretty freely. It is one of God’s amazing mysteries. When Luke was taken from here, my heart shattered into a million pieces and I thought the pain would literally kill me. I was brokenhearted. That is the risky side of love. In the crossroad of this grieving process I am faced everyday with the decision to love or self-protect. I ask myself over and over, do I want to love freely? Risk that pain again? Withdrawing my heart is so tempting but it puts me at risk of losing a whole lot more. I can self-protect myself right out of real life and the real relationships with my husband and three living children. I fight to stay engaged in everyday life. These precious remaining souls are worth the battle. They matter as much as Luke matters. It is this love that we have all fought hard for that sustains us and keeps us together through this pain. The gift of love is transforming. As much as this hurts I am grateful that I got to love and nurture my boy for 15 years. That love shaped me and enriched me. It is mine to keep forever. Love never ends. It is eternal. I honor Luke, by loving his dad, two brothers and sister fully and freely.
Control is an illusion. This is a hard truth to accept. We know it on some level but as mothers we want and go to great lengths to protect our children. But in reality, we can’t protect them from everything. I have had to forgive myself for being a human mother. I worried about many things related to Luke but I never saw this coming. Sometimes bad things just happen. There is no good reason for this or any tragedy. It’s hard to swallow but I know I have to let this go. I trust that God is greater, wiser and knows all things. The world can be dangerous and it is a mystery. Somehow, I am learning to live within the mystery of this. I take baby steps everyday. I know the only control I have is how I choose to look at this and how I choose to respond to this. We rarely get to pick our defining moments but we get to choose how they will define and shape us. We can believe that goodness can prevail even in the dark hard chapters of our lives.