Monday, May 25, 2015

Remember.


I remember when my dad received the phone call. It was Friday night and the family had been watching an episode of “Foyle’s War”. I sat on the couch across from my dad when suddenly his voice faltered and my heart froze as I heard him say the words, “Ben’s been hurt? He’s been shot?” Moments later my parents rushed out the door, telling me to calm down and stay behind as I attempted to pull my boots on and follow them. I’ve never been so terrified. At that point all we knew was that Ben was hurt and the ambulance had arrived to take him to the Emergency Room. Greg, Christa, Calvin and I sat in the family room and cried and prayed but something inside of me already knew that Ben was gone. To this day I wish I could have been there. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been for the people that were but in a strange way I envy them. The reality of what had happened might have been easier to swallow if I had seen it, if I had been there with him.

My parents came home an hour later to tell us that Ben was gone. They had arrived at the ER only to be told that their seventeen-year-old son had expired at the scene. It was surreal. It was nightmarish. What had happened to our brother? How had he died? Where was he now? With the following morning came further details of what had taken place, how it had been an accident, a freakish misfire, how Ben’s death had happened instantly. But it didn’t sink in for me until a week later when we were getting ready to go to our brother’s wake. I was dressed and ready to leave when the parents arrived home. They had gone early and seen Ben before us.  A sudden knot of panic settled in my stomach.

“I’m not sure I want to go,” I said. What would it be like to see my brother in a coffin? The prospect terrified me, especially when I thought about the fact that other people would be there.

“No, you need to see him,” my father told me. “Because when you see him you’ll know he’s not there anymore.”

He was right.

Looking at my brother’s body lying calmly in the coffin was like staring into an empty tomb. Ben wasn’t there. Whoever—whatever—was in that coffin wasn’t Ben. I imagine Mary experienced a similar pain when she arrived at Jesus’ tomb only to find the stone rolled away and the grave empty. Where was her Lord? What had they done to him?

“He is not here.”

“He is risen.”




I thought I knew what fear was. I thought I knew what pain was. I thought I knew weakness and sorrow. All that changed in a night, in the words my father spoke. This weekend I thought about my brother, my brother who died a veteran at the age of seventeen— my brother who was the bravest person I knew. I thought about what I’ve gained from his memory and what I have to give from his memory, his death and resurrection. During this last year I’ve spent a lot of time being broken, scared and weak. Days, weeks and months have gone by where I’ve felt constantly weighed down with sorrow. It’s been confusing. It’s been hard. I’ve lost myself and I think I’m just now starting to find myself again.

For anyone else suffering from loss or depression, I can’t really say much except that ultimately it takes time. It’s a healing process. Broken bones don’t heal in a day. But they do heal. And on the other side of sorrow you’ll discover that you’re a braver person for having gone through the fire. The world is a much more terrifying place once you wake up to the harsh reality of pain and death but you are a much stronger, compassionate person for it. The things in this life that break us are what mold us and shape us into the holy image of our Savior and while this truth doesn’t make the pain any less hard, it does give us hope—real, tangible, unshakable hope.

When people think of my brother Ben I want them to remember the empty tomb and remember that his story does not end in death but that his death is “swallowed up in victory”. His death is consumed in hope because of his hope in Jesus Christ. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

‘Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?’
1 Corinthians 15:53-55




28 comments :

  1. This was a beautiful post. I was crying as I read it. I can't imagine going through a loss like yours....I hope I would grow and learn as you did, but I honestly don't know how I'd react. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Thank you so much, Natalie! I don't know how much I've grown, but I know that God has grown closer to me through this and that His mercy, love and faithfulness only becomes more and more apparent every single day. :)

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  2. Oh, Dani! My heart broke as I read this post, and I cried in my heart. I am so, so sorry for the passing of your brother, even now a year on, what happened fills me with deep sorrow; I've never met you personally or your family, but I feel so much like you are my sister and family in the Lord, and it hurts very much I can not imagine the pain and grief of your loss, and how painful and hard it must have been, to understand and grasp it when Ben went to be with the Lord, so young. Yet your trust in Christ, the hope in the Resurrection from the dead, and God's eternal promises being your Rock, is such an inspiration. . . praise the Lord for the life of your brother, the life he lived and what God did in his life.

    And for his Resurrection.
    Thank you for sharing, Dani, though it is painful. Yet yes, the Lord heals all wounds, and comforts the broken-hearted, and gives strength to those who are weak and broken. May He do so with you, Dani!

    I hope you and your family are doing well, and that the Lord is supporting you all through this time of trial. You are amazing, Dani, and I am so grateful to have been able to come into contact with you and Anna your sister as well. God's love and the light of His grace shines in your life, through your words and the grace and hope I see in your lives. The Lord Jesus be with you and comfort your hearts! *hugs* Much love, dear friend! <3

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    1. Joy, thank you so much for your sweet words! Praise God that we have a Savior who is always near us and will wipe away every tear when we are with Him at long last.

      Thank you again for your prayers and support. You've been a dear friend and, yes, despite space and distance you've been like a sister. God bless! *hugs*

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  3. Beautiful post, Danielle. This made me cry and wish I could do something for all those brave men and women fighting for our freedom. Such a wonderful post.

    ~Katrina

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    1. Thank you Katrina! I feel the same way. :)

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  4. Danielle, I'm visiting from Stephanie's blog hop today. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your brother. The grief journey is a difficult one and sometimes brought on all too soon. It's certainly true that we don't understand why the Lord calls some home to Glory sooner than others. My oldest daughter passed away three and a half years ago (age 28). When I am on the other side of sorrow, I will be in eternity with her.

    I recognized those CAP dress blues in your photo. :) I have two sons who are former cadets, both C/2Lt like your brother Ben. In fact, my oldest son is now serving in the USAF, while my youngest has transferred over to a Senior Member in our local CAP squadron. It's a wonderful program and from what I read in your past posts about your brother (yes, I did read up on him) he sounds like he was a fabulous mentor, someone the other cadets could look up to and be proud to serve with. I want to say Thank you, Ben, for your service! And you, Dani, I will remember in prayer.

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    1. Oh Anne, thank you so much for commenting! I am very sorry for your loss as well. It's hard to lose a brother, but in many ways I know it was much more devastating for my parents. If there is one thing I have learned over the years it is that while loss and death are exceptionally sorrowful burdens to bear, my loss is no exception and there are so many, like you, who sympathize with my grief. More importantly, there is Jesus who sympathizes with us and knows our sorrows (he was, after all, the man of sorrows) and has surely born all our grief. I cannot wait for our eternal homecoming!

      Before my brother died he was in the process of applying for the USAF Academy. His recommendation letter for the academy was read at his funeral. He was incredibly dedicated to his CAP squadron and always enjoyed his opportunities to serve and lead at summer encampments. Thank you again so much for commenting, Anne! I will be praying God continues to give you strength and perseverance this side of sorrow and glory. :)

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  5. Oh Dani, words escape me right now.... As tears flow from my eyes I stand in awe of you and your testimony for the Lord. It is a true blessing to see how you have taken this sad, heartbreaking event and allowed the Lord to comfort and teach you - you have chosen to worship and give thanks in all seasons of life and my oh my, what a blessing for so many to see.

    May you continue to find strength, joy, and comfort in the arms of our precious Heavenly Father. Much love to you!

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    1. Thank you so much, Stephanie! I am only grateful that God gave us the courage as well as His Word and a supportive church family for us so that we would not be overwhelmed and silenced by grief but would rise as more than conquerors. :)

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  6. So sorry for your loss, it is so hard when we lose our loved ones so young. May God continue to give you strength and peace

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  7. My dear Dani, I just wanted to let you know that this post will be featured at Roses of Inspiration tomorrow. Thank you so much for sharing. Much love to you!

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    1. Thanks again, Stephanie, for featuring me!

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  8. I'm visiting you from Roses of Inspiration. I am so sorry for your loss but how beautifully and poignant you describe your journey afterwards. I've lost a husband so I understand so much of what you have been feeling. I'm so thankful for a wonderful God who gives us such peace and comfort at those times.

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    1. Thank you, Melanie! I am so thankful to have a Savior who knows grief, loss, and suffering as well as we do and sympathizes with us more than anyone else can. His comfort and peace truly surpass all understanding.

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  9. Dani, this is my first visit. I am so very sorry for your terrible loss. But what wonderful memories you must have of your lovely brother.

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  10. Sitting here reading your profound words, Dani, I know not what to say. Such tragic and unimaginable heartbreak suffered by you and your family. Such triumphant testimony of your's, your brother's and your family's faith. What a blessing you, your powerful words and your amazing spirit are to many who are suffering each day, pointing them to Jesus, the gentle Comforter. How wonderful you and your brother will see each other again, where there is no more pain or hurt or sorrow or tears. Oh what a glorious day that will be. Sending you much love wrapped in an armful of hugs. Xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Kim! We are eternally thankful for our Savior's comfort and the hope he gives us. I can't wait for that glorious eternal reunion!

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  11. Hello, I was truly touched over your post and message! Such sorry for all of you! And life is but a vapor and we never know when we will be called home. And the point you made was that it was not your brother in that coffin, our bodies are just a tent.
    Blessings, Roxy

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  12. Reading through your post and the comments with your replies, the one thing that stands out to me are your words, "I can't wait for that glorious eternal reunion!" It is that belief, hope, knowledge that keeps me going. That the people I've lost during this lifetime will be there to greet me when it is my turn. And the joy that fills me at the thought of that is indescribable. When I said goodbye to someone this past fall, I whispered in my own mind, "The more, the merrier" and imagined them joining my own private group of Angels.

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  13. An incredibly touching post, and my heart cried with you as I read it. I cannot even imagine the grief your family felt at such an unexpected tragedy in your family. Yet, as I read your words, I knew that the Lord was your helper and strength through this storm, and such grace lines every word you wrote in deep beauty and strength... healing does take time, and time is a mortal enemy when tragedy strikes, yet time and the grace of our Lord is the balm that can soothe hurting hearts. Thank you for sharing from your heart. What a blessing it was to read your post today and your sharing of a difficult time, yet that with Christ no matter we face, we can face it. His strength is sufficient.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing and for stopping by my blog!

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