So, I haven’t been blogging. Since the beginning of 2018, I’ve been starting up work after a year as a say-at-home-mom and very part-time writer. We also traveled twice in the past two months. Getting to take these two trips was a huge privilege, but it was also very tiring, as traveling with a toddler can be. And then, on the day that we were traveling back from LA, two families from my church were involved in a horrifying car accident that claimed the lives of two young children. That day was a week ago today. The worst Monday that I could possibly imagine.
I was sitting here working on a story that I have due for my beauty column, and my nightly reminder popped up on my phone to pray for the two families. The Lews and the Blumensteins. My church is an incredible community. Everyone has been scrambling to provide for every possible need that the families could have, both now and in the days and weeks and years to come (including starting a spreadsheet so that people can sign up for hourly prayer slots so that the two families are covered in prayer all day long. I’m the 10 pm slot). My church is not the kind of church where people show up and sing a couple of nice songs and leave. These people are IN each other’s lives. They’re the kind of people that you want to pour out your soul to. They’re the kind of people that will see strangers crying during service and come up to you to hold you while you weep and ask you if they can pray for you out loud (yes indeed, that did happen to me). They’re the kind of people that show up with food for weeks after you’ve had a baby. I never expected to find a community like this, in the city no less. But God provided, and it is a privilege to be a part of this family. With Jack, we haven’t been able to be as involved in the weekly goings-on of the church as we’d like to be, but no matter. I know that the people we’ve met at TGC have our backs, as we have theirs. It’s family.
So, the fact that I didn’t know the Lews or the Blumensteins personally doesn’t matter, you see. They’re a part of this beautiful family I have over in Park Slope. And Lauren and Ruthie Ann are fellow mamas, which is a whole other sisterly bond in itself. I am broken over this senseless and horrific loss of life. My brain is scrambled and I feel that weight of sorrow and grief on my shoulders. A feeling that I had during my miscarriage, and the feeling that I get whenever I hear about sick or deceased children. A mother should never have to lose her child. Families should never be ripped apart. A father should never have to get the call that his wife and child were involved in a car accident, and the child did not make it. It’s. Too. Much. It’s too much. I can’t even begin to fathom what these parents are feeling, what their families and friends are feeling. If I feel this gutted, how will they survive? How will these sweet, loving mothers, who had simply been shuttling their children across the street as they had a thousand times before, move forward? How can any of us?
I don’t know. And I appreciated that at church yesterday, our wonderful pastor Caleb Clardy didn’t claim to have all of the answers either. Instead, he spoke about pacing hospital halls, wondering what he could possibly say to these families. I didn’t get to hear all of his sermon because I had to tend to Jack, but one part from the beginning stuck with me. It was centered around the idea of: what can we ask of God in times like this? He said well, what we can’t ask is why. God hasn’t entrusted us with his master plan. But he has given us himself.
We sang the song “It Is Well With My Soul,” which Caleb told us was written by a man who lost his four daughters after an ocean liner sank making its way across the Atlantic. Well, mad respect to that guy. But this isn’t well with my soul. And I think that’s honestly how God feels, too. As Caleb said, God is heartbroken with us right now. He is with us. He is in it. He has given us himself. When everything is horror and sadness and trauma and exhaustion, He is still here. And I do believe that he will carry these dear mamas and their families through this. And I will pray for that every night. Nothing is impossible with God.
Please continue to keep these families in your thoughts and prayers as time goes on. Having gone through a much, much smaller tragedy than this, my perspective is that the best thing that you can do when you feel powerless is to stay in the grief with them (I am still working on this myself). Continue to show up and cry and pray with and for them. Even if it’s only in your heart, in your mind. I believe that they feel that. I believe that they will feel a tiny bit less of the burden because their community—in their church, in their neighborhood, in their city, in their world—is committed to staying in the ugliness with them. The anger and the sadness and the yearning. And also staying in the loveliness and light that was (and is) their angel children. I will never forget this, I will never forget them. I feel as if a piece of my heart was broken off and is with the Lews and the Blumensteins forever.
Let’s stay with them. And let’s use this horrible reminder of the delicate, delicate nature of this gift of life to love ourselves and those around us. It’s morbid, but it’s true, although I had my “happy ending” in my wonderful boy after my miscarriage, that loss made me painfully aware that I have zero guarantees of how long I will have with Jack. It’s just reality. Is it terrifying? YES. But the only thing that I can do is love him, right now, as best as I can. I hope that Lauren and Ruthie Ann can feel so proud of how fiercely and completely I know they loved, and still love, beautiful Joshua and Abigail. I know that love. I know those kids felt perfectly loved while they were here.
So, people. This is a lot of words. And a lot of sadness. BUT, listen. Let’s be careful when crossing the street. I admit that I’ve been way too trusting when marching around in this city, and this has been an important reminder to be very cautious around traffic, even when I have the light, as the Lews and Blumensteins did on that day. But you know what? We can’t stop crossing streets. We can’t wrap our kids up in bubble wrap. We have to live. Apparently the phrase that is repeated most in the Bible is “Be not afraid.” So, there’s a lot that we don’t know. But we KNOW that we were not put here to live in fear. Being smart and cautious is good, for sure. But fear won’t get us anywhere. Fear is a waste. Let’s love. Love will get us through. It will.