Keith speaks…

This blog is a wonderful thing for multiple reasons. I think it captures our thoughts, and it shares them with the world. It is cathartic. It helps order the chaos of the mind. It provides a voice in the hopes that what is expressed will hold some value. With this in mind, this post has been rattling in my brain for many weeks.

In the days and weeks that followed Michelle’s death and funeral, I felt adrift. Prior to that fateful night, I had plans, goals, and objectives. Everything was normal. We were like most other people in our community. I would have said my life has purpose, meaning and value. After Michelle’s death, I questioned all of that. I no longer believed in the illusion that we could exert control over our lives. Our actions, Yes. Our lives, No. Too many random variables. So, what was the point?

In the days immediately following Michelle’s death, I felt a presence. An oppression. A temptation. The easy path was to blame God. To hate God. To turn my back on God. I also felt the prayers of many people. People praying for us. I have felt these prayers before. When Patty was battling cancer, I have felt the prayers of many people. Please believe me, when you pray for the benefit of someone else, it works. In this case, it provided the strength to turn toward God instead of away from him. When we were fighting cancer, we increased our dedication to God and our Faith got stronger. As we grieve over the loss of our daughter, we again increase our dedication to God and our Hope gets stronger. Our focus on God’s Kingdom has never had more meaning.

Part of our healing journey has included grief counseling. Patty and I have received help from two wonderful organizations; St. Elizabeth’s Stars program and Fernside. With Stars, Patty and I were able to share our story with other grieving parents. There is some rational in being among others that truly understand your pain. I observed how we shared similar feelings and experiences. We no longer felt isolated and alone in our grief. We had a voice to share with others that could understand. We listened to their stories with a sympathetic ear. Around the circle, heads would nod in understanding like a chorus of bobbles. The leaders of the group were like conductors on a journey. Their gentle words of encouragement and understanding validated our pain, and at the same time gave hope that there will be a better tomorrow. At Fernside, Patty and I were able to meet with a grief counselor and dive deeper into our personal issues, thoughts, fears, and worries. Both have provided us comfort and courage to piece our lives back together. To honor and celebrate Michelle’s life. To live our lives, while remembering hers. It is a journey.
 It seems like ever since Michelle’s death, I have been more sensitive to the news reports of others dying. More empathetic to the families. I think about the tragic deaths of Heather McNamara, Caroline Huseman, Kyle Plush and Dawson Elder.  I pray for their families. I ask God to wrap them in love. I ask for them to receive direction to find good guidance as they process their grief. There is help available for anyone that wants it. I hope they find it as we did. Just last night, we gathered with our Stars friends: Ralph & Judy, Amy (&Greg), and Jack & Rachael. We share, we cry, we laugh, we hug. We’re bonded for life. In ours sorrows, we are blessed.

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