This blog post has brewing for months. Maybe even a year. To think that tomorrow marks three years since Corey slipped from this life into the next is almost incomprehensible. It seems like three minutes and three decades all at the same time.
Jayden is now the same height as me – exactly – and will probably pass me this summer, and Abbie isn’t far behind. They turn 15 and 13 this year, respectively, and Jayden is already saving up for a car.
Pray for me, y’all!
Celebrating Easter a couple weeks ago brought up a lot of memories and emotions. Easter was the last church service we attended as a family the year Corey died. He got very sick the next day, was admitted to the hospital that Wednesday, was in the ICU by Thursday, and, after spending the next two weeks in a coma, passed away at sunrise on April 19, 2018.
[I won’t revisit the details – many of you walked through it all with us – but if you’re new and want to read about those days, you can read through some of my older posts, in this order: The Scare & The Miracle, Part 1, The Scare & The Miracle, Part 2, Monday Morning, Music & Movement, Stillness & Knowing, No Matter What, Forward Progress = Flight of the Bumblebee, One Step Closer, Loading…, Still Unshaken]
There are more posts after those, of course, about life after Corey’s death, but if you’re reading this and are part of our lives, you’ve watched time march on – in our family and in your own lives. Time marches on unfazed, unmoved, unstoppable. And death is a part of it. No one gets out of here without facing it. It’s not something you can opt out of.
Death has been a bigger part of our national conversation over the past year than it has at any time since probably 9/11. It’s everywhere. The numbers, the trackers, the people we’ve loved and lost, the funerals not attended, the talk of it, the fear of it. It’s everywhere. The weight of it can be overwhelming.
But something I’ve come to know with absolute certainty is that while death is not something you can opt out of, life is. And many people have.
All the songs we sung in church on Easter morning were about the Resurrection – obviously. And what a moment. Man, of all the highlight reels I want to watch when I get to Heaven, that is at the very top of the list. Anyway, one of the songs we sung Easter morning was Rattle. If you haven’t heard it, take a listen. It’s a good one. One stanza of the lyric says: “Open the grave, I’m coming out, I’m gonna live, gonna live again…”. As I was singing those words, a thought that’s been stirring in my spirit for months began to solidify and take shape:
I’m gonna live.
Then Monday morning while I was driving the kids to school, Ain’t No Grave came on. We blared it all the way to school and the thought that had been taking shape became a resounding cry in my spirit:
Ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down
Ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down
When I hear that trumpet sound I’m gonna rise up outta the ground
There ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down
I know this lyric is referring to the power of death not being able to hold Jesus down, but how many of us are held down by death? How many of us are held down by the death of a spouse, a child (the pain of which I cannot even begin to imagine), a parent, a sibling or other loved one? The death of a job, a dream, an unfulfilled promise? How many of us are held down by the loss of hope, of health, of freedom, of joy?
None of us know what the 3 days between Jesus’ death and resurrection looked like, but I love this lyric from Ain’t No Grave:
Oh, there was a battle, a war between death and life
And there on a tree, the Lamb of God was crucified
And He went on down to hell, He took back every key
He rose up as a lion and He’s settin’ all the captives free
FREE. He’s setting all the captives FREE! That means YOU! That means ME! No matter what is holding us captive!
I had to make a choice after Corey died. I had to choose not to let his grave hold me down. I had to choose not to let his grave hold my kids down. Death is a part of life, we can’t opt out of it. But living is also a part of life. And that is something each of has the choice to opt into or out of. I’ve known people who are walking around wearing skin, breathing in and out on autopilot but who are not really living. You’ve probably known some of those people too. Maybe you’re one of those people – but we don’t have to be! We can all make the choice to throw off the grave clothes and walk out of our graves!
Oh, fear is a liar with a smooth and velvet tongue
Fear is a tyrant, he’s always telling me to run
Oh, love is a resurrection and love is a trumpet sound
Love is my weapon, I’m gonna take my giants down
I’ve made some pretty big changes in my life since 2021 began. I’ve rearranged some things so that my priorities are more in order and so that I have more time for what’s important (namely the two no-longer-little humans in my home). I’ve got some pretty big giants that I’m tired of and that I’m determined to take down this year. And for the love of humanity, I am tired of the fear and lies that the enemy is trying to sell me, my kids, my family – all of us. I’ve decided to live. I’ve decided to grab hold of love – one heck of a weapon – and live.
The end of Ain’t No Grave, which is apparently shaping up to be my theme song this year, says “If You walked out of the grave, I’m walking too…” And I am. I am walking in freedom, in life, in joy, in fullness, and in courage.
Join me. It’s gonna be a blast!