God Over Night…

happens over a lifetime

Archive for the category “Amazing Grace”

Thirty Two

As the leaves turn from green to yellow, red and orange, then to a dead brown that will eventually crunch under my feet, I think of my brother. Autumn is my all time most adored season. My brother, my first friend, was an Autumn baby. With all of the colors and smells of fall it seems right that he was born in this season. It also seems rightly so that the cold hard hand of winter would be the season in which he went away.

For his previous birthdays I have written a blog post about him, these mostly focused on my grief and the hole that has been felt by his choosing to leave; but this year…this year I think I see can see passed his leaving. This year I can see more.

I love standing in my yard watching the leaves float to the ground from the trees. I breath in the sweet tangy  smell of fall and it refreshes something in me, it reminds me of something and for a while I cannot put my finger on it. But then the realization wakes in me like the dawn of a new day. It smells like life. Isn’t that odd given that this is a season of dying away? Maybe it’s because Texas winters are cold, wet and dreary and summers are like a hot skillet? Fall just seems to be the time in which our neighborhood comes to life with activity.

It is here in this moment when I realize that November 1st is approaching. I wait for the sting. I wait for the center of my chest to feel like it is going to cave in; but it doesn’t come. I’m taken back by this surprising non reaction for a moment. What does this mean? I search my heart for answer. I question my loyalty, the care I have for my brother, a million things. I’m still sad that my brother is gone but I can see the hand of God covering the ache I once felt. The pain no longer holds me captive because I trust that God had a million reasons for Allen’s passing. I trust that God searched my brother, perceived his thoughts and that there wasn’t a place that my brother could hide from Him – no matter the darkness.

It is in this that I have found freedom to trust, to let go, to breath and to live. I think of some of the lyrics to “How Can It Be”…


These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy one
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be

I wonder to myself ‘How can it be? How can I have this freedom?’ It is because of Christ.

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Thirty One

I wasn’t going to write this.  I set my mind to it early this morning not too. But, it feels like the elephant in the room so I must.

Today would have been my brother’s 31st birthday. He would have stepped firmly into his thirties today. It’s not like when you first turn the big 3-0 and you can kind of look over your shoulder and see a number that starts with a two in front of it. No, today – thirty would have been on both sides.

My brother died at Christmas time but oddly enough the day he died isn’t the day that quickens my pulse, it isn’t the day in-which, when thought of, I try not to think about. His birthday is the day that gets me. I wonder why that is? Maybe it’s because today there should be celebration. Today should be a day of laughter and good humored jokes at his expense. I’m supposed to be able to tell my little brother on this day that he’s becoming more and more over the hill. But today is just filled with sadness. It’s a reminder of a short life. A ghost has lived in my house today. Memories come flooding back and they replay on my walls. They fill the reccesses of my mind and they echo what could have been.

Did you know that my brother was the only one to help Travis and I move into this house? Did you know that I was the first person he told that my nephew was on the way? Did you know that he and I used to play in the vacant lot next to our  house and pretend that a tree was a general store? I remember the time that he burned his hands on my dads muffler, oh my how it blistered up…but he wouldn’t cry in front of dad. No, way.

My brother was sweet and kind and took everything to heart. He could be easily wounded. He had a warped sense of humor and was a pro at making fun of songs; some of his Saturday Night Live impersonations I have stolen. Man, I remember when we would get into it though. He was my pesky little brother and my first real friend. As he grew up he remained sweet and kind but he had his demons and they were hard pressed to let him go. I think deep in his heart he used humor as a way to make through the day. As someone who suffers from anxiety myself I know that mask well.

So today, on your 31st birthday Allen, I will make the birthday wishes for you. I wish that your life could have been different. But mostly – I wish that I could have different in your life. I wish that I kept pushing. I wish I had been the sister you deserved.

Tell the ones you love that you love them. Make right any wrongs no matter who’s at fault. Forgiveness is meant to be given while living after life is gone – it’s merely a wish.

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Thirty

Today my brother would have been thirty. He was on the cusp of a new decade, a fresh start and a new page of life. It’s been ten months since he took his own life and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. As I look back over the time he has been gone I think of how fast it has passed; and then I think of how slow the time might have past for him. I don’t understand the demons that plagued him fully. I don’t understand the fear or heartache like he understood them. But then again, people don’t understand my fear that he needs a blanket because it’s cold outside. People don’t understand how fresh this is for me. How absolutely profound his death has been to me; and how he did it has left me staggering and nearly broken beyond repair. I could not imagine being my mom and holding him as his life blood poured out and soaked her clothes. Being the one that had to undress my mom later as she screamed and wailed that the dried blood on her was him is something I will never get over.

I think of how turning thirty held such promise for me. I felt that it was the beginning of being a settled adult leaving my “kid phase” behind. You’re old enough to know better and old enough to understand taking responsibility for your actions. My brother will always be the one who died in his twenties. That sound so young to me. It is young, the previous decade prior to his twenties he was going through adolescents. How did this happen to him? How did satan grab ahold of him so tightly that he could take his own life? I don’t know. I just know the story he could have had. I think of the testimony he one day could have given…maybe in his thirties.

I think back to his 29th birthday that I missed. I think back to his 28th birthday that I missed. I think this is where the real pain comes in. That gut wrenching feeling of loss. He will no longer age but I will and with that lapse of time will go memories that I cannot remember anymore. I was reminded of this fact as I lay in bed the other night and Travis asked me about the time that we all went to this haunted house in Fort Worth together. It took a while for me to recall it, it made tears fall down my face as I realized that all I have left of my brother, I’m forgetting.

So I’m going to sit here for a while and I’m going to stare at this screen and wish that things were different. I’m going to sit here and cry and beg God for another chance for him to turn thirty. I will sit here as it goes unanswered, because it cannot be so, hold down the bile in my throat  and then I will pick myself up and move on for the day. I will bring flowers to his gravesite, I will comfort my mom, act like I have it together and I will thank God that he lived. I will thank God for the 29 years he had here and pray that John 10:27-29 truly applied to him.

He could have been thirty today.

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