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peace for luke

01_09_ 024

Last Monday I grinned as I watched little Luke toddle up the path to preschool, his oxygen tank in tow.  I sighed some relief that he'd pulled through another hospital stay.  Evyn and I had prayed for him, prayed for his health, prayed for his family, sure that they were weary with every trip to the hospital.  And here he was, grinning, happy to join his class again.  I smiled to myself and went on my way.

I wasn't surprised when I received an email from his mom that he was in the hospital with trouble breathing again. We often received emails like this.  And he always got better in time. But this time each email update was worse than the last until.

Until Friday morning when I woke up to the news that Luke was gone.  His three year old little body had taken as much as it could. 

There was the predictable scurry of phone calls among preschool moms. And I did my best to remind people that what this family needed right this second was probably being taken care of by church and family.  I knew having been through my sister's death that people hurry to make meals, call with concern, send flowers…but you really need them – you really start grieving – weeks later.  When the flowers die, and the cards stop coming.  And people move on with their lives, while you're left with a gaping hole in yours.  So we're all standing ready, knowing we can't fix this or make it any better.  Hopeful that we can be of some comfort down the road, when the hurt sinks in and Luke's mom needs a shoulder to cry on. 

Please say a prayer for them.  For their strength and peace and "patience with the living," as I like to call it.  And for wisdom for those around them.


A few weeks ago Evyn started asking about her Aunt Lora.  How she died ("Did she fall out of the car?"), why the doctors couldn't fix her, etc.  I explained to her as simply as I could that two cars had collided.  Lora was broken.  The doctors tried their hardest, but she couldn't be fixed here on earth.  And now she lives in Heaven, perfect and healthy with Jesus – in a place prepared just for her.  Evyn was satisfied with that answer.  We went through the explanation all over again when we told her Luke wouldn't be coming back to school.  She was frustrated that she wouldn't see him again, but was okay with him being in Heaven with Aunt Lora.

After a long weekend of worry and sadness for Luke's family, this afternoon I am picturing  him cuddled peacefully in Jesus' arms.  No longer broken.  Perfect and happy, in a place our Father prepared. Just for him.

John 14:2-3 (King James Version)

 2In my Father's house
are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a
place for you.

 3And if I go and prepare
a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I
am, there ye may be also.

Mom - Profound. So very true. All of it. My prayers continue for this precious family, not only for patience with the living, but patience with themselves & each other as well.

Penny - I will pray for Luke’s family as they come to mind. Thank-God they have a friend like you!

Emily - Oh how sad…we will keep Luke’s family in our prayers!! Please also pray for a friend of ours, Devin, who was diagnosed w/Leukemia a couple of weeks ago…He’s almost 4. Thanks!

Regina - What was wrong with Luke? That’s so sad. I’ll be praying for his family…

Janice - Dear Crystal,
You exhibit the top of motherhood here in your blog. Teaching and creating wholesome growth with your children all the while you are photographing them in cherished photos.
I started reading when you were still an Army Family – and I’m still impressed at how you endured that experience so positively and successfully. It gave me a little bit of an understanding of what our military families experience and what their sacrifice really means.
It is true and amazing that as we ourselves experience and endure severe trials of health, accident, loss of loved ones, etc. that our priorities of what is really important, and what is not, are refined as by fire.
Experience is a teacher. And, as we experience loss, we are comforted by those who have experienced similar loss before us…as now you are able to share the peace you have gleaned from dealing with the loss of your sister – with Luke’s family.
We sometimes feel we cannot go on…but life does go on…and we smile again.
There is also peace in knowing that we will see them again in the hereafter.
I am grateful for people like you who are a rock, an anchor, a testimony of having endured a very hard experience and lived to smile again. Some people have a gift of expression. They are able to express and communicate very well. You have that gift.
Our Father in Heaven answers our prayers and sometimes He does so through other people. You are one of those people.
If we can pull ourselves up out of our grief after awhile, we can look for and find some tender mercies, blessings that we can be thankful for in the face of loss. Maybe it’s the simple but extraordinary blessing that we were even blessed to know, love, and have these someones in our lives.
Thank you for sharing your heart and your blog. Your photos are great – – – They capture the personality of the moment. How precious – especially for you and your extended family to have this record.
Your Friend,

Lucy - Amen.

lera - So very sad.
It is certainly most true that the most helpful help is after the funeral. That is when it gets “normal” for the people not having to live with this day in and day out. The weeks and months that follow are the hardest. And each of the early “anniversaries” of the death.
(I had a younger sister who died in a car accident several years ago. And recently two young teenagers from our church –brother and sister — who died in a car accident.)

Leanne Kooima - Crystal,
I’ve been reading your blog for about 9 months. I really enjoy everything you post, and even though we’ve never met, I feel a bond with you. I’m not a military wife, or even a mother, but my brother did join Jesus in heaven after a 4+ year struggle with leukemia. He has been gone for 5½ years now, but each time you post about your sister, I feel validated about my experiences with grief and loss. Isn’t it strange how so many of us deal with grief, but feel so alone?
Luke’s family will be in my prayers. And as you’ve said so eloquently, to pray “For their strength and peace and “patience with the living.”
Another thing that really rang true with me was this…”but you really need them – you really start grieving – weeks later. When the flowers die, and the cards stop coming. And people move on with their lives, while you’re left with a gaping hole in yours.” Sooooo true!
Thank you for your openness, and the truth that you speak to all of those that have not experienced grief…this teaching is a great tool. And thank you for speaking into the lives of those of us who have experienced grief.
With love,

Adrienne - Oh I am so sorry. I cannot even begin to fathom the pain Luke’s family feels or the emotions this conjours up for you. I will indeed pray for peace for his family, the peace that Luke has already found.

Keri - prayers for Luke’s family and friends, and for everyone who experiences the loss of a loved one.

Chris - Praying for them and for you.

Laura Hall - Wow did this bring back many memories for me. I sit here crying over the years I spent watching my two infants who were terminally ill. I would wonder how I could get through another day but I did. Not on my strength but God’s. Both of our children had cystic fibrosis and were so very sick. I was not a Christian, raised by an atheist, but strenght came. Through all this I met Jesus. He did not meet me He already knew me I just had to quit ignoring His beckoning. Soon at the age of two and three both of our children were healed. I cry frequently for other parents that the healing had to be performed in heaven. I am trying to type through tear filled eyes so please don’t judge my IQ on spelling. I know w/o a doubt that Luke is playing in a beautiful meadow in the sunshine. Please parents grasp the miracle of life in on the bad days. My heart goes out to the family temporaily seperated from a precious soul.