Collateral damage

I’m selfish.  I’ve had blinders on.  I’ve been consumed with the loss of Mark, my husband, best friend, the wonderful daddy to our sons…it’s been the nucleus around which we’ve re-aligned our lives.  The boys and I have been in a sort of protective “bubble” where we exist as a family of three, remembering, grieving, laughing, crying, and moving forward.  There’s been a multitude of prayers offered up for us, I have no doubt that’s why we are faring as well as we are.

But I’ve come to a painful realization in the past few days, that I have been oblivious, even clueless, that Mark’s death has caused a wave of collateral damage, literally from coast to coast.

His absence doesn’t just haunt Andrew, Ben, and me….we may have been his immediate family, but we are by no means the only people who loved him.  Here’s where the selfish part comes in.  In the enormity of my personal grief, attending to the grief of our sons, I have neglected to recognize there are many others grieving, as well.

His mother, well, she’s lost a son…her oldest child, the one that shared her passion for nature, the legacy of the family land, and associated history.  The one that was planning on returning to that land to raise his sons.  His siblings?  They are missing him.  Geographically, they reside in Kansas, Massachusetts, and Oregon.  His only brother gave Mark’s eulogy in Kansas; we’d spent a week with he and his sweet wife a mere three weeks before his death.  Matt and Mark re-connected during that vacation, becoming closer than they have been in years.  His two sisters grieve in their own unique ways, as well.

My mother?  Mark was in her life for a quarter century;  she and my dad had the sneaking suspicion when I first brought Mark home that I would be spending the rest of my life with him.  She was here with me the last week of his life, sitting beside me as I told him goodbye for hours that last day.  My brother?  He looked up to Mark.  He’s known him since he was a teenager.  Mark would always tell Scott to stress less and live more–and he loved him like a brother.  My sister in law and Mark were kindred spirits in many ways.  And his two nieces (the only ones we’ll have), Madison and Emily, were his favorite girls (besides me!).  Heck, if it hadn’t been for Maddie, we probably would’ve been content to remain childless; she was so much fun, we decided to have one (or two) of our own.

That’s just close family.  There are aunts and uncles and cousins, all dealing with the loss.  Friends, coworkers, and casual aquaintances are still adapting to life without him.

He was a great guy… but I think he’s being missed because his actions and beliefs made a lasting impression on folks, and he left many “footprints” behind.  Those footprints were made with pretty big shoes, shoes that will be hard to fill.  I know that certainly I can’t do it all.  I try, oh boy, do I try! I do the best I can, with God’s help, but I’m not Mark.

What I can do is be more supportive of my loved ones, outside of my bubble, who are grieving.  I’ve been self-absorbed, too busy with my own agenda to empathize with you.  But no more.  I pledge to help you deal with our shared loss of your son, brother, uncle, son-in-law, friend, mentor.  Because that is what Mark would want.  And it’s what God wants me to do.

Today, I lean on this scripture.  I pray that it will give you some comfort as well…..

Stand Firm
My brothers and sisters, think of the various tests you encounter as occasions for joy.  After all, you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  Let this endurance complete its work so that you may be fully mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.  But anyone who needs wisdom should ask God, whose very nature is to give to everyone without a second thought, without keeping score.  Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.
Those who stand firm during testing are blessed.  They are tried and true.  They will receive the life God has promised to those who love him as their reward.
James 1:2-5, 12 (CEB)
I think of how lucky we are, even in the pain of this grief.  We are blessed.  I  feel more alive and fortunate than I have in my entire life.  Each day is a new beginning.  Each sunrise is to be celebrated.  Each sunset, revered.  I get a warm fuzzy feeling just watching my boys run along in front of me as we go into Braum’s to buy a gallon of milk.  I see Mark in them both (along with me, sometimes, unfortunately!).Me, Ms. type A personality, isn’t going through the motions of life anymore;  I’m grabbing hold, hanging on for the ride, and absorbing every bit of love and light that’s here. I pray the same for you.