I don’t write on this blog with the frequency I have in the past. The reason…..I have noting to say! If you were to have plugged me to some sort of monitor from August 1st 2009 until now you would have seen, pain, anger, confusion, joy, peace, apathy, lost, fun, either way above or way below normal. Today you would see that all those emotions are back to the normal. But that does not mean I am who I was before Mike died. In fact, I would say in a couple of areas I am radically different. The main change would be that my values have been challenged, re-arranged and have moved from saying I have a value to working that out in my behaviour. What are some of those lessons;
- At the top of the list….When its all stripped away, its just me and God. I think for years I visited with God. It was more an acquaintance relationship from my side than a walk with God. Today, you will often find me at 5am in my favorite place, a chair in Mike’s room, just sitting and being with God. You see I worked for God for 32 years, doing. What I have learnt is the joy of just being. The joy of seeing and listening. I was so busy rushing through life that I missed so much on the journey. I was a power boat speeding from A to B. Today, I love the process of getting the sails up, catching a breeze and going with the wind. I realise how much I missed.
- Loss is not something you get over. You never return to the former state. I lost my only son, my buddy, my friend, the boy I enjoyed doing so much with, from the mundane to the fun. You leant to adjust, like a person who had a leg amputated, or paralysis of an arm, you learn how to function with that loss. Nothing will replace Mike.
- Suffering is horrible and its so beautiful. It takes you to the darkest place of your soul and yet it sharpens and brings a clarity that is beyond the normal. I don’t wish suffering on myself or anyone else, but I am not as quick to wish them out of it, rather that as they or I walk through it, we squeeze out of it everything we can to make us a better person, the person God intends us to be.
- I empathise with people in pain and need but more than that, it moves me to action. We as a family were blown away by extravagant acts of kindness. Friends from all over the world, smothered us with generosity in so many ways. I want not just be the receptor of that but the initiator. I want to take time to write to the man who I don’t know but saw on TV who lost his son to drugs and now I read in the last couple of years his wife died of cancer. My empathy has to move beyond a thought, it has to be expressed.
- Cease the moment, create the moment, dont take the moment for granted. When I was recently in the USA for work, it started to dawn on me that the venue for our week of meetings was on a lake, with a speed boat and jet ski! I thought, ‘Mark you can sleep and eat the rest of your life, maximise this opportunity’, so every morning I was up and off on the boat to see the sun rise, I would skip lunch to play on the water, I joined the others in all the fun activities after work until the sun set and then we would enjoy some adult beverage sitting under the stars and chatting. In fact, we cancelled eating out because we were having too much fun at this venue!
- Take every opportunity to sow a seed for Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not die, but have eternal life”. If you have Christ, you have life, if you do not have Christ you do not have life. I am so grateful for the awesome tract I developed called “The Father’s love”. I carry it with me the whole time and pass it to people I meet. I still feel awkward doing that, especially to some of the ladies/girls at the check-out, but then I think, “a little embarrassment is nothing compared to the pain of losing Mike, and won’t it be neat when I get to heaven and meet one of those people and they say ‘you gave me a leaflet about your son'”!
- I choose to not lose my temper! Whilst Kath and I have normal frustration in the relationship, I dont alow myself to get angry as I have in the past. In the immediate days after Mike died, for some reason I thought about and made a concious decission that unity as the family was more important than my views surrounding issues of Mike’s death. That decision came into play very quickly. Kath wanted Mike cremated, I did not. I just sat there whilst Sam, the undertaker and Kath went through the process for 1 hour discussing the issue. At the end, she came to the conclusion that Mike should be burried. I choose to not fight, there is a big difference between fighting and counter opinion! But at the end of the day, most times the issue is so trivial. Why allow it to blow up…I choose not to.
- Don’t go it alone. Allow people into your life. People want to help. But I am self sufficient, I can do it! This is an onging lesson for me. It’s easy for me to go it alone.
There are several other lessons but they are the main ones that come to mind.