The passage from winter to the approaching spring over recent years has always been a bit of challenge for me. My internal soul clock counted the days until March 17th with some trepidation. After all the hustle and bustle of Christmas, New Years and the onslaught of so many birthdays (mine as well), I had to face the harsh reality of the loss of a son. Winter’s cold blast seemed to reflect, with pin point accuracy how this day typically impacts me. It’s like a proverbial ton of bricks coming down with enough power to wipe out an army. Orange sadness would creep in and I would walk once again into the valley of the shadows of death. That’s how it was!
This year, I made a firm commitment that it would be different. This year, with the inevitable ebb and flow of the holidays and birthdays, along with our blistering weather seem to mimic the shock and despair many feel when facing a loss, I resolved not to experience this day with sadness. Instead I would reclaimed it, and replace the sorrow and loss with something other than orange sadness and gray skies. Oh, I acknowledged missing our beloved Shawn. However, those priceless memories of laughter, and love which his life represented, not only for me, but also for countless family and friends would be colored differently. As I posted our son’s photo on Facebook, and tried diligently to thank each and every person who commented, I marveled at the amazing responses. Their thoughts, remembrances, and prayers, both past and present seemed in step with mine own. A new, transforming ebb and flow emerged, and continued well into the evening.
Yesterday, I awoke with profound gratitude, and a song in my heart for our son and for his legacy. Sunlight broke across the gray horizon, as I tenderly shared with a small group, what this today had become. I had colored the day with the bright SON-LIGHT of God’s love and grace, instead of green. This one particular ebb and flow is now filled with something more, LOVE.
I celebrated the life of our dear son Shawn who passed away on March 17, 1998. What a tremendous joy he was to so many. And he left a legacy of life and love that Michael and I cherish to this day.
Thank you God for Shawn, his sons Mavrick, Jordan and for the awesome circles of family and friends you gave him and us. O Lord, you have blessed us beyond measure. Thank you for to his sister Coquese, and brother Paul and those who, still to this day, remain part of this endless circle of love. These young men and women (adopted brothers and sisters) who came to us through their relationship with Shawn have enriched our lives. They have never left us, and have kept their promise to make positive life changes. We and the greater community have benefited from their commitment and their deep and abiding love. So out of tragedy came “a family and a community united by God’s love.” As a result Shawn’s light still shines bright.
It is with deep appreciation that Michael and I extend our thanks and gratitude to all who loved him, and to those who continue to demonstrate their love for us, for his family and for the community.
My day began with sadness, as a community recalled the life and legacy of Jean Fonville. A woman of tremendous faith who devoted all she had to her husband, family, church and to her God. Her best friend of 45 years, and Godmother to her daughter said sadly, “My friend is gone.” Her gentle conversation mingled with tears, sorrow and disbelief spoke volumes of a relationship that span not only years, but every connected moment. Moments built on joys, challenges, and the inevitable cycles of life cemented in their love for one another. The statement, which briefly sounded so final, open the door to a moment of realization, as she said one day we will see each other again. Losing a loved one is never easy. Thoughts of past experiences enjoyed gives way to the knowledge that those moments, or others like them, are forever lost. But as her friend said to me with complete confidence, I know I will see her and the next time will be different for both of us.
As I ponder her comments, and those of my dear friend of many years, I wrote in my journal, ” The legacy of lives brought together by a single act or [encounter] forged a bond that is broken [momentarily] by death. The next time Jean and her friend see each other it will be like the ending of the story of the prodigal son, what was lost is now found. Her dear friend is gone, but oh what a glorious reunion awaits them. Rest in peace Jean.
The events of December 14th have touched the hearts and souls of the world. Sorrow, anguish, horror, sadness and pain for those lost, and for those left behind to cope with their journey through the valley of the shadow of death.
Lord, paint our souls with a picture of you, so Your divine light can be seen in this dark world. Paint our hearts with your love to enable us to show what real love really is. Paint our spirits with your peace so we become vessels of calm in troubled waters. Paint our minds with your wisdom, and our bodies with your strength and mercy, so that we show your amazing grace to the world.
Help us Lord, to walk with these families and others through this time. Their journey through these dark days are beyond comprehension. And like others before them, remind us all that our personal journeys intersect with theirs right now, and as your servants we have a work to do them.
Lord, let them know they are not alone, for you are with them. Your rod and staff will comfort them, and the table you’ve prepared is anointed with your healing oil. Remind them You are filling their cups with your loving comfort, like the gates of heaven.
Lord, be with these families whose children, and loved ones are gone and with those who are providing care, comfort, support, aid. Give us the strength and courage as a nation to help, really help those who need it. Amen
Our son Shawn would have been 42 years old. Travelling the road marked grief is long, and sometimes very lonely. The journey is different for each person. Although the stages – markers have been identified, no two individuals walk in the same direction, the same manner and pace. And the imprint left by the loss is different as well. You are changed at the core of your physical, emotional and spiritual DNA. And those changes will either cloud or clarify how you look at life, your relationship with others, yourself and God. As you recall the memories of your loved one, you will make a choice to move toward hope and love or not.
Remembering can hurt, but it does not mean constant pain. John 16:32 [HCSB] records, “I am not alone, because the Father is with me.” We have a Savior who understands, and is with us. He is our present help at all times. Because he knows and understands, we can go to him anytime with our grief, our sorrow, and our pain. He is our Shalom-our precious peace that passes all understanding.
I can celebrate Shawn’s life and legacy, and thank God for the time given us. Resting in His glorious peace provides hope when the road seems cloudy.