I had a great day, yesterday, returning and reconnecting at BSF. Admittedly, I was looking forward to BSF starting (which was yesterday), but I was also dreading it. The only reason I was dreading it was that I knew I would be introducing myself and our family, including our circumstances with Reece. It was another day to check off a “first time without Reece” moment, so there are always mixed feelings in doing so. It was the first time going to BSF without him and yet not the first time we were back at Christ Presbyterian since the transplant. Reece’s private funeral service was in the CPC chapel. CPC graciously allowed us to do it there and it was the perfect place for it; he spent a lot of time praising the Lord in that chapel. On BSF mornings, we usually entered CPC through the chapel door because it has a handicapped button that automatically opens the door and a ramp that follows beyond the doorway–Reece loves ramps! So we would maneuver through the parking lot with me gripping onto Reece’s hand so he wouldn’t run off and get hit by a car. But once his feet hit the sidewalk he was gone–down the sidewalk, through the doors, down the ramp, with me yelling, “Reece, wait up!!!” This happened every week. I wouldn’t actually catch a glimpse of that blonde mop of hair until I got down the ramp inside the church, with Britta in tow, and there Reece would be, sitting on a wooden bench, grinning ear to ear, swinging his legs, watching me with glee as I huffed and puffed to make sure he had made it there safely. We now call the chapel entrance at CPC “Reecie’s Door”.
Anyway, back to the dreaded introductions. I’m the kind of person that cries because of the emotional concentration or build-up of a situation, so I knew that I would not be able to introduce myself without shedding tears, simply due to the circumstance. There is nothing wrong with crying, but it annoys me when my own crying prevents me from saying what I need to say, or doesn’t accurately reflect what I am feeling. (Case in point, when I am really mad, I cry.) During group intros, I got to Reece and couldn’t eek out much after saying he passed away. I was able to get in a few sentences in a sort of circle-back-to-me-to-finish way, but I was annoyed with myself. I had several things I wanted to say about our experience and I felt like my crying got in the way and did not accurately reflect the emotions I feel about the situation. Oh, and once I started crying, I did another thing that is one of my biggest pet peeves; I apologized for crying. I try really hard not to do that. It is perfectly okay to cry in front of people and let the room shift in their seats a little bit. I was actually not apologizing for crying, but rather for not being able to say what I wanted to say because of said crying. Oy. After intros, our discussion leader asked what one goal we have for the year. The truth is, I have a couple of hopes for the year.
First, after spending many months isolated in the hospital, I want to enjoy learning about God in this type of setting and reconnecting with this group of women. I need to rest and recharge the spiritual batteries. There were so many weeks when I would think about how I absolutely had no option to go to BSF (or any other group or activity, for that matter) and no way to connect in any meaningful way with others. Yesterday, I sat near the back of the sanctuary during lecture, stared out into the group of 500 women, and soaked it all in. Did this really just happen to our family? Wasn’t I just here listening to lecture last week? Nope. Our situation forced us into isolation. And while the Bible lay on the shelf in Reece’s room and provided a comfort for me at certain times, it was clear that the verses and hymns I had committed to memory, the lectures or sermons I had heard and retained, or the snippets of conversations with friends that I could recall served an important purpose and were critical relief for the many, many times we were forced into such dark places and had no time or, frankly, no energy to begin to try to study the Bible. I recognize, now, that the time when I feel like life is just bumping a long at a steady pace is the time (and I now view it as the luxury) to build Biblical knowledge, commit verses to memory, and fuel up with other people so that when life demands living in a solitary place, I am prepared for it. Because I know that while the circumstances may be different, there will be another time where being in the Word isn’t physically or mentally possible, and I want to be prepared. I’m going to try to savor this year as best I can.
Second, and this one I didn’t realize until after I left CPC yesterday, I have a lot to learn about praying on behalf of others. I want to get to the end of the year and believe I have made progress in passionately coming before the Lord not only for my family and me, but also for others. It took me 45 minutes to leave yesterday, because I ran into nearly all of Reece’s BSF children’s leaders as I was checking Britta and Scarlett out of childcare. I had several discussions about prayer and stories shared with me about personal prayers for Reece. These stories, combined with the interactions we have had with a few of our dear friends since Reece’s passing made me realize that people were not only praying for Reece and his health–they were emotionally invested in Reece and laying their requests before the Lord on our behalf. It has been eye-opening for me to hear of people and their deep emotions for my son. We absolutely felt covered in prayer in a tangible way. It is hard to describe how prayer can be tangible–you have to experience it for yourself. While we felt and continue to feel deep emotions in regard to Reece, it never occurred to me that other people would also have such deep emotions about him. We have had people share stories of anger, sadness, joy, grief; many people have shared with us that they experienced these emotions in their prayers to God. It has been both comforting and also convicting for me to hear this. I’ve made it a point that when I commit to praying for someone, I follow through in doing so. But how many times have I had prayer requests come through each week and I haven’t made it a priority to pray for others? Or I’ve prayed in a sort of obligatory way, but with very little passion or emotion. I’m ashamed to even admit it. I need to get my act together. I’m posting this outright because 1) I am so thankful that people lifted Reece up in prayer and with such love and heartfelt compassion for his life and 2) I need to step up my praying for others. I never realized how impactful and comforting prayer is until we went through this; until we were in a situation where we often had to rely on others to hold us up in prayer. Having someone intercede in prayer on my behalf is a tremendous blessing. I want to bless others in the same way and do so with passion.
Third, I’ve found myself in an honest pursuit of knowing about Heaven and the people who Reece spends his time with. I read the book of Revelation a couple of weeks ago. While I have read it before, I still find it confusing. After reading Revelation, I jumped to Genesis and remembered that our BSF study this year is in Genesis. So, I decided to hold up on reading any more on my own for that reason. I have read Genesis before, but never with such a curiosity about Heaven. I spend a lot of time each day thinking about Heaven and what Reece is doing there, so I feel like I need to learn as much as I can about the place. Genesis discusses Creation, The Fall (more on this later), and many people (amongst other things) that we commonly think of as “Bible characters”, but they are actual people who actually live in Heaven–with Reece. For example, I have to believe that Reece thinks it’s pretty cool that he has met Noah and I wonder if the Little People Noah’s Ark play set in our play area even does justice to what the real Noah looks like. But Reece knows what he looks like. I want to learn as much as possible about the Place and who lives there. My child has stuff to do in Heaven and I would love to hear what he has to say at the end of his day at our dinner table. I’d love to hear about the conversations he had, the projects he made, the friends he met. I know he’s busy, but since I can’t hear him tell me about it right now, I’m going to have to settle for learning about the place as best I can through the Bible and other Biblically-based books (I am also reading Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven”).
Before Reece died I told several people that if we lost him on Earth, a part of me would die right along with him. Now I’m realizing that I was mistaken. When Reece went to Heaven, he took a piece of me along with him to live there. Part of my mind is constantly in Heaven with him. As I go about my day, there is always something that is pulling my thoughts Heaven-bound. I think of it as a gift, as I would have never have freed up my mind enough and forced myself to think about Eternity with such intensity, without the physical loss of Reece. It took such a great loss on Earth to gain whatever limited eternal thinking I have. As life would have it, much like Reece used to race into BSF with me tagging behind, so he has raced off to Heaven. And I’m still here, trying my hardest to keep up, on my own personal journey to get there and be reunited with him.