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A Birthday Lament

What We Ain’t Got by Jake Owens

I relate to this song – the lyrics – on so many levels. It’s Bethany’s Birthday. The singer, Jake Owens, is lamenting a lost girlfriend. Everyday I lament the children I’ve lost and Gracen’s degenerating health. How I long for what I once had! What I wouldn’t trade for the lives and health of my children! Cole, Bethany and Katie have moved on into their eternal futures, but I stagnate here filled with longing for what once was and what should have been. It’s true, “I wanted the world until my whole world stopped. . . ” It’s in those moments and the excruciating hours, days, weeks, months, and years when all of life is distilled down to the most important things – relationships and salvation of the soul. You don’t forget and you definitely don’t stop loving those who have moved on without you. 

No, you just desperately long for what you ain’t got!


Partial Lyrics below:

Third Verse
We all wish it didn’t hurt,
When you try your best and it doesn’t work,
And goodbye’s such a painful word,
We all wish it didn’t hurt.

Bridge
All I want is what I had,
I’d trade it all just to get her back,
She’s moving on, but I guess I’m not.
We all want what we ain’t got.

Ending
I wanted the world until my whole world stopped,
You know a love like that ain’t easily forgot.
I guess we all want what we ain’t got. 

 
Four years of longing . . . 

She should be 24. 

I had been married a year by that time. 

I think of all she’s missed out on in the last four years. Oh, I know that’s not technically true – as she lived every minute of her ordained days (Psalm 139:16). But my heart refuses to release what could have – what should have been – if we were not living in a fallen world. 

In the last four years I have prayed, thought, and felt these things:  

“How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” ~ Psalm 13:1-2

“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; My eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also.” ~ Psalm 31:9

“Why did I ever come forth from the womb To look on trouble and sorrow, . . . ?” ~ Jeremiah 20:18

 
And I have wondered why I have suffered sorrow upon sorrow. Why the Lord would not raise my children up (which I think has to do with the fact that Christ is no longer on earth. He is not performing miracles to fulfill the prophecies in order to verify His deity. That has already been established). Still my heart’s desire was to hear Him say “Arise!”, or “She is not dead, but asleep!”  

“Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the          only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!”” ~ Luke 7:12-14

“Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.”” ~ Luke 8:52

“For indeed he [Epaphroditus – who labored with Paul for the gospel] was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.” ~ Philippians 2:27

 

But, alas, it was not to be. I must await God’s promise of redemption and reunion. I will mourn, wait, watch and endure for the joy set before me. And I will remember. . . 

“Bethany’s Song” written and performed by Emma Nilsson is a perfect way to remember and celebrate the woman Bethany was.

Bethany’s Song by Emma Nilsson

Complete Lyrics:  

She walked with a purpose,
strong head on her shoulders,
her laugh was infectious,
and those who know her know,
that she was fierce and fun combined.

She smiled as bright as she could allow,
She dreamed she loved she danced on clouds,
And those who know her know,
That she was walking sunshine.

Oh, Bethany,
It’s not how it’s supposed to be
But remembering you smiling, laughing, and oh so happy
Holds us in this tragedy.
Oh, Bethany,
We will love you for eternity.

She liked colors, especially in hair
She spoke her views without a care,
and to say she was bright
Wouldn’t quite justify her right.

And she found a love so strong,
Something so special when your young,
And the love is still alive
Through her spirit that flies.

Oh, Bethany
It’s not how it’s supposed to be
But remembering you smiling, laughing, and oh so happy
Holds us in this tragedy.
Oh, Bethany,
We will love you for eternity.

Oh, and it’s not fair,
Can’t be justified.
I could scream and shout
Cause this ain’t right.
But it wouldn’t be the light to shine,
On Bethany, 
Cause Bethany,

You walked with a purpose,
Strong head on your shoulders,
Your laugh was infectious,
And everyone who knows you knows this,
You deserved the best, 
Deserved happiness,
Which is what was there before this tragic death,
But you’ll always be, 
Our Bethany,
You’ll always be.

Oh, Bethany, 
You’ll always be.
We’ll always love you,
Always love you.

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 2, 2017 in Grief, Links, Music

 

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My Consolation in Sorrow

iStock_000019848651_Medium-600x400When you lose a loved one to death, you quickly recognize that a great number of people sympathize, even empathize (vicariously experience) with your loss. Close friends and family grieve with you because they lost a friend, a brother, a parent or grandchild too. Some simply grieve for you because they love you but were not personally connected to the one who died. But very few people actually grieve in like manner with you. Even parents experience grief in unique ways. Men often process their sorrow and loss far differently than women do.

I have been blessed by numerous friends and family who have grieved both with me and for me, but none grieved as I. No one grieved as “the mother” with the obliterated heart. None but one. None but one. And I count that one woman as one of my greatest blessings in the midst of all this heartache.

10492559_10152550256319610_3231914152675065142_nHer name is Teresa and I never would have guessed just what she would come to mean to me. (Pictured left, Teresa and her husband, Jakob).

Frankly, I didn’t know Teresa well when my daughters died. I knew who she was, we’d spoken briefly, she is the mother of the young man my oldest daughter had been dating for two and a half years.

 

Teresa, her sister and her son, Alex, stepped in and met practical needs for us following the accident that took Bethany and Katie’s lives. David and I were tied up at the hospital – not wanting to leave the side of our surviving daughter. Teresa and Alex took on the arduous task of purchasing burial garb for both girls. I never saw what they choose but was told Alex had insisted on a scarf in Bethany’s favorite color, pink. They also retrieved all Bethany’s worldly goods from her campus apartment and delivered them to our home. But none of those things explains why Teresa is so special to me.

10525854_805830962812159_8008800412709942090_nAt the time of Bethany’s death, Teresa and her family were living in Sweden. The family moved back to the states approximately six months after the funeral. Her family met us for lunch shortly after their move. I had no idea what to expect and I was a bit nervous. They had been so kind, so generous. Their daughter Emma had written and performed a beautiful song for which her father, Jakob, created a photo montage (Bethany’s Song). Emma also painted a treasured picture of Bethany that hangs in our living room. But in spite of all that, I didn’t know them well but I was aware that they didn’t share the faith that had become so interwoven into my very being. I was afraid my faith would be offensive to them and maybe even afraid that they could find the chink in my spiritual armor and open Pandora’s box in the midst of my suffering. I knew I was vulnerable.

It was at that lunch in an extremely crowded Freddie’s that I discover the blessing that is Teresa. She is God’s gift to me from an entirely selfish perspective. Let me say that Teresa is a wonderful woman in an absolutely average way; the way most women are. They work jobs, raise children, care for their homes and support their husbands.  They don’t live in the spotlight but they are the glue, the strength and the heart of their homes. They are good friends, and contribute to their communities, largely behind the scenes. They are the heart and soul of this world far more than any politician, famous actor, musician or celebrity. Teresa is just such a woman – the world is filled with such talented, everyday but far from average women who make a difference in their small corner of the world. But what makes Teresa so special to me had little to do with any of those things either.

What I discovered about Teresa in that crowded fast food restaurant, what makes her so special to me, what sets her apart as a gift that could have only come from God is only one thing. Teresa loved Bethany with a mother’s heart. Not like a mother, but as if she had adopted Bethany as her own child. Teresa expressed grief that day that mirrored my own. I have not encountered one other person whose feelings and grief over Bethany’s or Katie’s deaths so closely reflected my own.

In the months that followed, Teresa and I got together many times. Over and over she expressed feelings so very similar to mine. The last time we got together, I told her that I find myself embarrassed because people always ask me how Gracen is doing. They always tell me that they are praying for her. And while I am so thankful for that, there is this quiet voice within that wonders if no one cares about how I’m doing, that wonders if anyone is praying for me. I feel selfish. And I feel as if everyone expects me, or David and I, to be finished grieving – to be moving forward.

Teresa confided in me that day that her friends and family also ask how her son is doing; not how she is doing. She too feels as if people expect her to be beyond her grief. What she’s really communicating is that others knew and expected Alex to grieve deeply, but didn’t expect Teresa to grieve as deeply as her son. They understood Alex’s close relationship with Bethany – his grief was expected, but they didn’t realize the depth of the relationship Teresa had developed with Bethany as well. Her grief was unexpected because her love for Bethany was outside the norm of parent relationships with their children’s girlfriends or boyfriends.

In part, Teresa is a treasure because she validates the progression (or lack thereof) of my grief journey. She makes me feel normal in the midst of my personal nightmare. But most of all Teresa is a blessing because her grief is mine. She loved my daughter to such a degree that her heart is as broken as mine.

Bethany was a fortunate beneficiary of Teresa’s love in life and I’ve been the beneficiary of her grief. I’ve benefited by the knowledge of how deeply Teresa loved my girl – I’ve benefited by the gift of someone to share the depths of my loss – to know I’m not alone in my deepest sorrow. I’ve benefited by the friendship she’s bestowed upon me.

While I would never wish my pain and sorrow on another, I can’t begin to describe the ways in which Teresa’s grief has been a consolation for me. There are so many ways in which words meant to comfort unintentionally diminish the value of the loved one lost. Teresa, added value to Bethany’s life and memory. That is why Teresa is such a special blessing to my aching heart.

Thank you, Teresa, for loving my girl and for freely sharing your grief with me.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2016 in Grief, Links, Music

 

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Bethany’s Song – A Tribute Video

 

This video is a tribute to Bethany Boxx. Bethany was my son’s best friend and the love of his life. Our family loved Bethany very much and she is terribly missed. Bethany and her little sister Katelyn’s lives ended way to soon in a needless traffic accident caused by a reckless driver, driving without a driver’s license. The song is written and performed by Emma Nilsson who wrote this song as a tribute to the positive, strong, smart, beautiful, young Bethany. Our hearts goes out to the Boxx family, Alex Nilsson, and everyone who knew Katelyn and Bethany. They will be missed and never forgotten. Rest in peace. — Jakob Nilsson

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Links, Music

 

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