Updated: Jun 25, 2020
My friend, Maleia Lake, submitted the following story with the directions, “Please have at it. The story is yours to craft.” After reading it, I didn’t see how what I wrote could add anything. Hearing it from her perspective was more meaningful. This story describes a holy moment she experienced shortly after the death of her 3-month-old son.
Well, there I was, driving down A Street trying to escape into Father John Riccardo’s radio show. Something about his voice coupled with his clarity in message calmed me. I needed that and craved it whenever I got behind the wheel.
I had just dropped off Grace and Charlotte at the sitters, and it was my morning out for getting some errands done. It was their happiness, their busyness, and our love for them that kept the days moving. Without them, we may have slid into depression and despair. Being ages five and two, Grace and Charlotte lived every moment. Their movement and life kept us going forward.
However, I had learned that it was in the stillness where I experienced the depth of our loss. When the girls were away or in the middle of the night, I was open. Vulnerable. Completely unguarded. The recent death of our 3-month-old son Ben and all the grief that comes with his sudden and unexplainable loss was able to rush in. There was no blocking or avoiding it during these times of quiet. That grief was always there – lurking, waiting to escape.
And, so it did. Right there, driving down A Street. I wept and I shook. We now call it an ugly cry. I was able to keep driving down that straight and wide-open road despite all of it. It was so routine and I was now well versed at going through motions and getting things done despite what was going on emotionally inside of me. After what seemed like an eternity of crying, but what was actually less than 2 miles, I talked aloud.
“God, I MISS him. Oh, I MISS him.” Out it came. So simple, yet encompassing a universe of void in my heart. Admitting my needs or hurt have never been easy for me so this took monumental effort for me to get out. But then it gushed. I let it loose and opened myself up to it.
And then a voice cut through everything. Clear and strong. “Heaven is for Ben, Maleia. The earth is for the girls.” The voice was not mine. It was not my wishful thinking saying something to me. My thoughts were running all over the place at 500 miles per hour. It was God. Undoubtedly. Strong. Simple. Intentional. It was precisely what I yearned to know yet couldn’t grasp no matter how hard I tried on my own.
I became still and my intense crying amazingly ceased after a few breaths. I drove on, nodding my head, catching my breath, recognizing the tranquility that had so long escaped me, and accepting what had been revealed. I repeated it over and over, and it sunk in more with every repetition.
It wasn’t so much the words that calmed me. Didn’t I already know that Ben was in heaven and someday I would see him again? It was the words mixed with the authority and the way in which God delivered it. It was the authority and love of a Father. Clear and affirming. A truth spoken. My time on earth was to be spent focused on our girls; my longing for Ben would end when I am in Heaven. My anguish would someday end and Ben’s time with me will come, beautiful, unceasing, and infinite.
The effect of that moment was profound. Not only then, but every day since. The journey of acceptance, grief, longing, anger, confusion, and purpose as a mother are so enormously complex and encompassing as a parent who has lost a child. But that moment was pivotal in helping me to scar over so that while the wound is always there, it didn’t have to keep breaking wide open again and again. It helped me to keep going especially in moments of stillness when the hurt lunges forward. I thank God for his graciousness and clarity to help me keep on our earthly journey.