Monday, July 17, 2006

He Gives and Takes Away

Before anyone gets too worried about me, VNB, or the baby, we're all ok.

Monday, VNB and I set our plan into motion for telling our church about the baby. Our plan was to purchase the flowers for the altar and have it put in the bulletin that they were given by us in honor of "the surprise blessing we expect to receive at the end of January." We got a beautiful arrangement in a cute, white basket with pink carnations and blue.....somethings.....amid daisys and other filler.

Saturday, VNB and I got up at our "regular" weekday time (~4:45) and drove to Smith Mountain Lake in VA for his annual family reunion. After breaking the big news to his family (he was wearing blue, I was wearing as close to pink as I get), I rode with him on the wave runner once (he drove very gently), rode in the boat as he water skied, but otherwise, sat in the shade with the "adults." :) Except for my feet sweeling near the end of the day, it was a beautiful, fun, relaxing time. While VNB took one last spin on the wave runner, I floated in the lake while chatting with VNB's sister to cool off my feet. We then cleaned up, said our goodbyes, and began our trip home.

It took us five hours to get there, but after a long-cut, it took six hours to get home. When we were about 15 minutes away, we got a phone call from one of our friends from church. Three of the newly graduated from high school boys at our church had been involved in a car accident, two were flown to shock-trauma in Baltimore, one was dead on the scene. One of the boys I've known since the day his parents adopted him when he was a baby, the other two I've known since they were stinky middle-schoolers. I've been their youth worker/counselor, their teacher, and their friend for many years.

I'm also very good friends with each of their families. The family of the boy who was adopted (the Morrises) have been very close with my family since we first moved to MD in 1982. His dad can play any instrument with strings and has been heavily involved in the music ministry for many years. His mom is one of the sweetest people on earth and works tirelessly in the church. His little sister was in the Sunday School class I taught for several years. Jonathan himself has always been very head-strong.....but if focused on something always excels. He was in the front passenger's seat and apparently hit his head pretty hard on the window. Half of his face is swollen with bruises, in addition to other scrapes, cuts, and bruises. He's still in a lot of pain, and isn't doing very well emotionally.

The family of the boy who was driving (the Alcotts) became friends of mine when I was teaching that Sunday School class of 3rdand 4th graders. Tim's dad, Gary, taught the 5th and 6th graders, and his little sister Jenny was in my class. His older brother Drew was in the youth group and one of my favorites because of his....mischeviousness. While I was overseas, Gary emailed me every single week to keep me up-to-date on the happenings of the church and of his family. That simple action was one of the sweetest things anyone did for me while I was away. It kept me close to the happenings at "home" and definitely gave their family an even softer place in my heart. Tim was driving when the car went too fast around the corner, flipped, and hit a tree. He's probably in the best condition, and was even able to visit the family of the third boy yesterday. Both he and Jonathan were released from the hospital very early on Sunday morning. He's got scrapes and bruises, but is otherwise physically ok. I'm sure the emotional battle is only just now beginning, despite being taken aside already by the third boy's twin and told that it wasn't his fault. Their family was coming home from buying snow cones a few miles from their house. The boys were in the lead car with Drew directly behind them. He saw the whole thing. He either called his family immediately, or they were shortly behind him. He's been troubled with drugs and other rebellious actions over the past few years. This is a very precarious time for him, too.

The family of the boy that died (the Groves) have been friends of mine for most of the last 6-7 years. I've been camping with them, Sherry (their mom) helped me to make some of my bridesmaids' dresses, I just sang at their oldest son Johnny's wedding a few weeks ago, and I've worked with them at many youth events...they're just a cool family with tireless energy for youth activities and church work. Hardest hit, of course, was Jay's twin brother, Jeff. The whole family is doing well, although there's naturally still some shock. I think his middle brother, Paul, is the one still the most in shock. He and Drew have been drug buddies off and on for years, but Paul's never left completely, always coming back in between (and sometimes during) bouts of addiction. But the whole family was at church yesterday because they knew that they needed the comfort of their church family, and that we needed them too.

So, after driving for 11 hours, and spending five hours on the lake, VNB and I headed to shock trauma to be with the families and the youth who were there. We ended up getting home around 2AM.

The Sunday morning services, of course, were difficult. Three of our pastors had maybe 2 hours of sleep, combined, and those of us who knew were like zombies, which really confused those who didn't know yet. But the touchpoint that everyone kept coming back to both Saturday night and all day Sunday was that there was no doubt that Jay was in Heaven, rocking out in worship, just like he did here on Earth only in ways we could never imagine.

On the advice of several people, I called the Maternity Center's non-emergency line, briefly explained what had happened, and asked them to call me back. My stomach was tying up occasionally, and I was a little dizzy from time to time, but really, nothing serious. It's just a precaution due to the long, physically-demanding day, followed by a long emotionally-demanding night and next (several) day(s). They probably won't even want to see me - I'll just tell them in more detail the various traumas, then explain in more detail about what happened with my body, and they'll tell me to try to take it as easy as I can over the next couple of days.

So be praying for the three families. For the guilt that the surviving boys (Tim, especially) will feel. In many ways, it will be far more rough on them and their families than it will be for the Groves. Also, for Tim's brother Drew to be able to live with the images he's seen while being completely unable to help in any way, and for both he and Paul that this helps to bring them further away from addictions, and not back into them. And for me, not just that "Lime" is ok (I'm pretty sure s/he is)....but the Groves have asked me to sing at Jay's funeral. Especially with all the pregnancy hormones making me always on the verge of tears anyway, that's going to be rough. Lastly, for the Grove family - that they continue to be examples to all of us in their understanding of hope and blessing, even in pain.

VNB had been concerned Saturday night about the flowers that we'd already bought, but I think it ended up being a good thing really. It was a good counterbalance - new physical life, and new life everlasting. As Job said, "He gives and takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord."

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