It was summer, going in to autumn of 2008. I was still in the toddler stages of my faith, even though huge changes had already taken place in my life. I had grown in leaps and bounds, but nothing could really prepare me for the season ahead. Please, if you have not read my post about Seasons of Change, take a few minutes minutes and do it now. It will help everything here make more sense, and put it all in to place,
I was attending a wonderful little church that really had taken me, and my family, under their wing. They were like family. Early in our beginning there I had met Linda. What an amazing woman she was. She was an "older" lady, but truth be told, I had no real idea how old she was. She had Multiple Sclerosis, and because I have that it my family as well, I felt a pull to her. She also had the most amazing canine assistant, Eunice. Eunice was always with her at church at Suncoast Community Church. She was a beautiful Golden Retriever. My daughter just loved her.
Not far into our joining the church in late 2006 Linda had taken a fall. She was in a nursing center while she recovered from a broken ankle. Under Florida laws at the time, the nurses or staff were not allowed to attend to Eunice at all. The church put together a schedule of people to go and walk Eunice. Being a night owl, I signed up for 10 pm every day. Amy went with me. Faithfully we showed up every day and took Eunice for a walk, She and Amy grew close, and I enjoyed my time with this very special lady who had gone through so much in life, yet praised God in it all. Not long after she went home she was diagnosed with cancer, and also had a hip injury. We gladly signed up again to help with Eunice. While she was a faithful helper and, like all true service dogs was extremely well behaved, she knew when Amy was coming and just couldn't help herself. We helped again for many months, until in June Linda passed away. It was a sad day and time for us all. Seeing Eunice at her service at church, sitting where she faithfully had for so long was simply heartbreaking, to say the least. She went on to live the rest of her life retired with family.
During this time in June, and for several months after, I had not been able to reach my daughter Ellie. That was not usually good news. It meant she was probably using again, and didn't want to talk. Her cell phone was disconnected, and I had no way to reach her. E;;ie had been here to Florida the summer before and met my girls, my sister and brother, and we had a great few days together. I had become "The Mom" because neither her, or my girls, knew exactly what to call me in conversation. I was becoming worried that I couldn't reach her.
On October 6th I had reached out to the agency that had handled the adoption and asked if they could get me her home number with her parents, where, to the best of my knowledge, she was still living. I came in to work on October 7, 2008 to a message with her parents phone number. I called and left them a message saying I was trying to reach Ellie, and to please have her give me a call.
That evening my phone rang with a call from the area code where they lived. I answered the phone, and will never forget the next few minutes. It was Ellie's mom, Mary. I had been feeling very uptight all day, just a weird feeling. Now, I was panic ridden. I can recite the call almost word for word. She didn't know quite how to tell me, but Ellie had passed away that early that morning. Sadly, she had overdosed. I know we talked a few more minutes, but I have no idea about what, exactly. I hung up, quickly said something to my girls, and went outside, and just melted. Crushed. Even as a write, I cannot come up with the words to describe that night. I did manage to call a friend from work I know would pray, but I felt just completely broken. Crushed.
I considered going up for the funeral, and family and friends were willing to help, but after considering everything I decided it would make an already very difficult time for her family that much more so. It was another very difficult decision, but I stayed home. Beaten up and broken, I didn't know what else to do. I tried to pray, but it was impossible. I trusted that others were praying, and that God knew. I, however, felt angry with God. After all, He could do anything, everything, all things. Why would he allow me to meet her, to begin to get to know her, hear about my grandsons, only to stop it so soon? Why did He not save her? He could have. Why? Why? Why?
While I don't think you every really heal from a loss of a child, even one you did not raise, the fact that I didn't raise her did not make it any easier. Nor does it even now some days. But you do learn to move forward. You have to. But just when I finally was taking steps, in January of 2009 the storm clouds were heavy again. This is when my dearest friend Dave, who had walked me to my faith over that MSN messenger conversation using that Gideon Bible passed away so suddenly, from a massive heart event, not attack, just months shy of turning 40. All I could do, again, was ask why? Why take this father and husband so young? And while his wife was going thru such horrible cancer? Why had I not talked to him for awhile? Why? Why? Why? Again, prayer escaped me. Dave's first Bible ever became my first Bible ever. I don't regularly use it since he passed. It is a treasure.
I still miss each of these people often, if not every day. I still ask why. The dates of their passing, of their birthdays, opens a deep cut, every single time. Just this past year Dave's loving wife Kirsten also passed away. She had had cancer again. She was such an influence in my life, in my crochet ministry, in how she loved and praised God in the valleys and storms. Again, I ask why? Why leave a teen with mother and father? Why? I have no answer to that. And I try to trust. There have been others, even recently, who have touched my life, and are gone. My sweet crochet friend Fran comes to mind. Just the other day would have been her birthday. Now it was her first one in Heaven. Why?
I do not have the answers. Maybe someday I will. In the meantime I try to live, to move forward, to love deeply and openly, to help others going through times such as these. And to trust that God has a reason, and knows why.