Stories that Matter

Hairpin Turns And Heartbreak

I need to write. I need to write but I don’t have the words. I don’t know how to express what I’m feeling right now, how broken my heart is, this ache inside.

We are forty days out from my daughter’s wedding. Forty days. My father-in-law, a retired pastor who was planning to marry Sarah and Randy, now lies in the ICU after suffering a massive heart attack on April 2nd. I will not underestimate the power of God, but the prognosis is not good. Chances are, he may not be with us on May 25th.

How do I deal with this? How do I comfort my husband and my kids and my relatives who are all reeling from this devastating turn of events? My own heart is heavy with emotion. I have questions. I’m angry. We’re supposed to be joyfully anticipating a wedding, yet here we are in tears.  I want to know why. I want it to not have happened. I understand that I am allowed to feel this way. I don’t believe God will smite me for questioning Him, but I’m not sure He’s going to give me any answers either. But, as in all things, He does give me a choice. I can choose to let this anger and bitterness fester. I can choose to wallow in my grief over the pain that my family is feeling. Or I can choose to walk through it in faith. I can choose to trust that even in this, God knows what is best. He has a plan, and it is good.

But this is so, so hard.

So hard to say goodbye to someone you love, knowing that you probably won’t see them again this side of eternity. As I left the hospital on Saturday and flew home Sunday, I couldn’t believe that this would be the case. Do I believe in miracles? Yes. But at this point, I don’t even know what to pray for. If you have ever watched a loved one suffer, you will understand my turmoil. I have been here before. When I lost my mom, in those final awful days, all I could pray was, “Lord, take her.” And then he did. This time it’s a little harder to let go. Sometimes it’s impossible to believe this is even happening. But it is and we are going to have to face whatever comes next with grace, conviction and faith that God works together for good, in all things. Oh, Lord give me the strength to do that. Because right now, I’m not feeling it.

To top it all off, I came home yesterday to hear about the bombings at the Boston marathon. My mind immediately flew to my son. Where was he? Was he there? Was he hurt? It’s almost too much to take. Thankfully, Chris is fine. He and his girlfriend were in The Prudential Center heading to watch the end of the race when the bombs went off.

A few blocks away. Close.

Too close.

I am so grateful they had the fortitude to know something was wrong, exit the building onto a side street and head in the opposite direction, out of the city. I am so sad for those who did not have the time to escape the blasts. So many injured, three dead that I know of. But the fatalities could have been so much worse. Yet. Why? What do we do with this madness?

I don’t know. But I know what I’m not going to do. I’m not going to live in fear. I refuse to walk through each day thinking the worst is about to happen. I am going to pray. That’s really all I know to do at this point. I’m going to be grateful for the small things. The amazing things like my son not being there, not being hurt. I’m thankful that my sister and her family are visiting us this week. I’m going to treasure the times we have together, and make the most of them. I’m going to look forward to our daughter’s wedding and support them as much as we can.

Maybe one day I will understand this hard time in our lives. Maybe I won’t. But for now, for today, I’m reaching up. I’m holding on to hope, grasping my meagre faith, and trusting God to get us through.


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  1. Beth K. Vogt on April 16, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Of all the things God values, I think he treasures a honest heart laid bare before him … like yours, Cathy. Praying for you.

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks, my friend. Your love and support means so much. 🙂

  2. Colleen on April 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    Cathy, you voiced so well what many of us have experienced. Thank you for your authenticity and for sharing your heart.

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Sometimes it is the best thing to do! I know I feel better for writing it all out.

  3. Sue Harrison on April 16, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I agree with Beth. Loving you through this, Cathy, with much prayer.

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Thank you, Sue. I really appreciate that!

  4. Ingerlise Pietromartire on April 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Praying for you and your family.

  5. piathompson on April 16, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    What a difficult time for your family, Cathy. But thank God for His mercies, as well. He can take hearing our truest thoughts, because He knows them already. Praying for you all.

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, Pia. It is tough, but you never know what God plans to do, we just keep praying and trusting.

  6. terrib726 on April 16, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    We are also facing some unexpected pre-wedding difficulties as you know. I am keeping your family in my prayers. God can and will do miraculous things. And although we cannot dictate His miracles, we can rest in His grace and peace. Love from the Burrows.

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      I know. Makes it hard to understand and not ask why…but I know we will get through these trying times with love and prayer!

  7. gene on April 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    We don’t live with, and love someone for our entire life and not have their passing hurt…it is supposed to hurt. We never get over our loss, we just get used to it.
    There is a deeper burning question buried inside us. We do our best to keep it smothered, because we’re afraid to ask it. It is an undeniable question for God: How could you let this happen to me?
    I’m looking forward to the day when I will see things from God’s perspective.
    Prayers for your family

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Agreed, Gene. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  8. Sherri Wilson Johnson on April 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I’m so sorry your family is going through this. I’ve definitely been there! Too many times!

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks, Sherri! It’s the up and down that’s so hard…

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks, Sherri!

  9. Carrie Chwierut on April 16, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    I’m so sorry this is such a rough time for you and your family. But God is in complete control and will be there at your father-in-law’s passing as well as the beautiful wedding coming up (I know you know that, too).

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks, Carrie. It is tough, but you are right, God is control. He will get us through.

  10. Maxie Lloyd-Hamilton Anderson on April 17, 2013 at 12:36 am

    So sorry for your family Cathy. Sometimes we have these problems that we have a hard time dealing with and can only turn to GOD for our strength. Know that people are praying for you. <3 Maxie

    • Cathy West on April 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks, Maxie, I appreciate those prayers so much.

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