No one outside of close family, has asked us about how we navigated the water’s of our lifelong friendship with the Jackson family after the accident. Once in a while, being in a small town, we would hear rumor’s of things that we had supposedly said, none of which were true. We really didn’t pay any attention to it or make public comments, gossip seems to feed off that. What I hope we did is show, every chance we got, that there was no lasting blame, malice or anger towards anyone. We loved them before and boy, we sure do love them now.
But I don’t want to present this as a pollyanna experience, because there were dark, tough times. Grief is not a linear process, where you pass something one time, never to return. Often times you return over and over and over, and have to work through it each time. Dad and Tom weren’t just neighbor’s, they were the best of friends. Very often on a warm summer night, they could be found sitting on the porch talking until it got dark. Sometimes as I sit on my back porch, I think of Tom sitting on his porch with an empty chair, missing his best friend Mr. Terry. It brings to mind a quote from Jane Austen in Sense and Sensibility. Do I compare my suffering to other’s who have lost loved ones? No, I compare my suffering to what it might have been. I compare it to Tom’s.
I KNOW the true depth of pain that we humans can experience and endure, because I have watched him endure it.
I KNOW what it means to stand in the gap and hold the line against evil forces for your friends and family without being asked, while you yourself are weak, because I saw him do it.
I KNOW the stigma of publicly feeling responsible for someone’s heart breaking and yet walking with dignity and humbleness because I saw him do it.
I KNOW the feeling of inadequacy as you allow other people to care for you when you are used to always doing for yourself, because I saw him do it.
I KNOW the strength of character it takes to focus your time and energy on the pain and suffering of other’s, forgetting your own pain, and trying to help those around you because I saw him do it.
I KNOW the power in not being made into a victim of circumstances, whether they be good or bad, because I saw him do it.
I KNOW the pressure of scaling the insurmountable task of rebuilding a life, as everything around you lies in ruin, including your own body, and not complaining, because I saw him do it.
I KNOW the power of words and telling someone, “I don’t blame you for what happened” because I saw a light come into your eyes when I said it to you.
I KNOW the patience that a person is capable of because while we will never know the answer’s we seek on this side of the veil, yet I saw you practice it.
I KNOW when the gospel says, “I am the least of these” it isn’t referring to a person’s worth but their willingness to have a servant’s heart, because I saw him have one.
I KNOW that people show love to other’s by doing, providing and working hard and maybe not by going around saying it all the time, because I saw him do it.
I KNOW not to try to avoid things that are hard, but you must face them head on, because I saw him do it.
I KNOW that you can walk through life’s very deepest and profoundly weary times and truly face the reality of it without the use of drugs, alcohol or any other sedative to dull the edges of pain, because I saw him do it.
I KNOW what anguish means, like in the Bible when Jesus ask his Father, “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” because He can’t imagine enduring what is being asked of him. The reality of it will be worse than the imagining of it. The anticipation of the aftermath of a tragedy is always worse than we think it can be. It can be lived through because I saw him do it.
I KNOW what it is to be a vessel totally used by God, with no thought to self or self image, because I saw him do it.
I KNOW what love is because I love him.