Well here we are… the “last first.”
It’s fitting that it’s a gray and rainy day. And it’s fitting that it’s Good Friday. If you look at “Good” Friday as a singular event, it’s not good at all. It sucks, to be blunt. The Man who was supposed to come and rescue us and provide for us and give us victory and life and security didn’t have a very “Good” Friday at all. He hung, gasping for air, dying a grizzly, horrific death – while those who loved Him looked on, helpless and broken.
I remember well the feeling of helplessness and brokenness I felt one year ago today.
I got a phone call this morning that put things in perspective for me and helped give shape to the blob of words that have been floating aimlessly through my mind, trying half-heartedly to find their way to a keyboard. You see, it’s only when you look at “Good Friday” in the greater context that it resembles anything good at all.
“In the past few years, I’ve quit praying and have walked away from my faith,” they said. “But I never forgot what you wrote last year, about how Jayden prayed over his dad in his hospital room, ’Jesus, we don’t know what’s going to happen, but no matter what, this whole household will always serve you.’ (click here if you want to read that heart-wrenching blog post) – and that has resonated with me and I wanted to let you know that I bought a bible a couple months ago, and I’ve read it every day, and I’ve started praying again and I’m going to church this Easter for the first time in a very long time. Your family’s faith has helped renew mine, and I wanted to let you know that, especially today.”
And just like that, it made things as OK as they can be.
From the very start of our journey, I have asked the Lord to use our story as He willed. I have always said that if even one person gets to spend eternity with their Creator because of Corey’s diagnosis, battle, strength, grit, determination, humor and ultimate passing, then it would help it to all be OK – or as OK as it can be. It would help it to make some sense and give some worth to what we’ve sacrificed. That call this morning did that for me.
Corey had a personal relationship with Jesus and I have no doubt where he is spending eternity. And because of the platform his journey has given us, the responsibility we have to his life and his story, at least one person will get to hang out with him – and with Jesus! – in a Heaven that’s void of cancer, chemo, transplants, collapsed lungs, sadness and goodbyes.
So in that context, it is a Good Friday – because we know what comes next! Jesus died a grizzly death, yes, but only in death could He march into the bowels of hell and fight tooth and nail to grab the key to your soul and mine. He spent three days gathering soul-keys and putting fear, anxiety, doubt and worthlessness in their place. He left those things in the depths of hell so that ultimately we could too. He rose in victory so that ultimately we could too!
So today I’m choosing not to get on the Anniversary Train and spend the day in a mourning cloak. Instead, I’m choosing to celebrate the life and love and laughter of both Corey and of our risen Savior. The truth is, Corey h-a-t-e-d the whole, “Today is the anniversary of (fill in the sad blank).” He hated it and would hate it if I chose to put on the mourning cloak and walk around today in a fog. If you knew him, you’re nodding in agreement. If you didn’t, trust me. Corey was the Life. Of. The. Party. He’d snatch that black veil off my face and say, “Go to the beach! Go fly a kite! Go be happy and laugh with the kids and take that dog that you paid way too much for and go LIVE!”
I’ve known I needed to post today for a long time but haven’t known what to say. I mean, do I lament? Do I try and sound peppy? Do I post about my crazy life as a now-single mom with two active kids who’s trying to rock the whole “Mom’s Taxi” thing? About how, on a typical Thursday for instance, I have no less than six drop-offs and pick-ups a few dozen miles apart from each other and with overlapping start and stop times, and about how I’m gone from 8 AM to 9 PM with a couple stops in at home to let the puppy out of her kennel for a bathroom break and how, if I don’t have to stop in at a store for this thing or that, how I take her with me to said drop-offs and pick-ups so she’s not stuck in her kennel all day? About how sometimes I try and squeeze in a 20-minute power nap (no lie, sometimes in a parking lot!) half way through the day so I can buck up and head off to the next thing because I’m doing this whole single-mom thing in my mid-40s and not my mid-20s, mind you? Who wants to read about that?
So thank you, caring and conscientious caller, who gave me a reason to write today about LIFE – and not just death. A very dear friend sent me this blog post this morning. She experienced the loss of a child a couple years ago, which I cannot even begin to fathom, and this rang so, so true with me. So, because someone has come along and said it better than I can, I will share her words with you (read her blog here) and just nod in solidarity and confirm that I, too, am choosing not to jump on the Anniversary Train this year – or any other year, for that matter. I’m not criticizing you if you’re riding that train, but I just can’t. I have two kids who need me to choose differently, who need my encouragement to help them choose to live and carry on their dad’s legacy of laughter and living big.
So that’s my Good Friday story – and I’m stickin’ to it. I hope these words will give you a glimmer of hope today. Hope in a risen Savior. Hope in the (wiser) choice of choosing LIFE. Hope in what’s to come. There’s sun (and Son) in the forecast for the rest of this Easter weekend, which, in the Pacific Northwest, is a welcome and beautiful gift. We’ve got a double-header on tap tomorrow for Jayden’s baseball team, the Lake Stevens Dodgers (no, I am not making that up), which proves that God is a Dodgers fan and that He cares about the little things. Then Sunday we’ll rise and shine and celebrate the One who gave it all so we could have the hope and promise of eternity together as a family once again. I asked the kids the other day, “I wonder what Resurrection Sunday is like in Heaven?! I bet that is soooooooome “SONrise” service!” I’m so glad we’ll be able to find out one day – but not anytime soon. We’ve still got a lot of living to do…
(P.S. Turn it up and sing along. This is what I’m jammin’ to today:)