And it will never be the same.
Boys became men this week and young wives became widows...much too soon.
Their hearts were defiled by the pain and reality of loss and too-soon goodbyes.
Grieving and aching with them, the pain of tragedy strikes deep.
Feeling helpless and speechless, there isn't much to say or ways to bring comfort.
And yet there is Hope. The only Hope, the only rest and the only true comfort in such a time as this.
We were driving home from a mini family reunion when we got the news. We had been out of cell coverage and were late getting word that 19 of our local firefighters had been caught in the angry, raging wildfire and we had lost them. 19 families had lost their son, husband and daddy.
We drove quickly, praying and exchanging texts with ones we love and know.
John went to meet with grieving families, to be present and to pray with them. I wonder if he's even processed all that he saw and heard and felt. He came home in the early hours of the morning, broken and exhausted. Devastated for these families.
We fell asleep with our hands entwined, something we do often. But tonight it felt different, it hit so close to home, to our little family that is no different than those who lost their young daddy to their little kiddos. I kept praying for peace because the ache for the community and friends was so deep and we knew the days ahead would bring so much pain and questioning.
It's been a long week. A week full of layers of grief for those who were left behind. So many questions, so many prayers prayed for those young families and those who know Jesus and those who don't.
It's so natural to question God and His inability to shift the winds or His decision to send them in that direction. It's easy to blame Him for the change in monsoon winds and the one left behind who barely escaped.
But how vital in these raw, painful moments to remind ourselves that we live in a fallen world. A world that was changed when Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit and sin forever poisoned our world. No matter how much we recycle or eat organic and try to live healthy, sin is still here and it's the ruler. It's the culprit. Just as the fall is the culprit for other pains such as cancer and miscarriages and Alzheimer's. Deeper than that, if we do blame God for these tragedies than where do we find comfort? Healing? Safety from the depth of pain and grief? What else compares? I think it's natural to ask God why...why so young, why young daddy's, why men who were at the prime of their youth. But in those moments I hear the lyric to the song how deep the Father's Love for us where it says, "how deep the pain of searing loss, the Father turns His face away." I choose to find His peace in that, knowing that He mourns with us, He cries with us, He wishes death and loss never would happen either. He holds us and He alone can get us through this.
The 4th was different this year and probably will be for years to come. Our town is known for 4th of July celebrations and the traditions it holds. But it was quiet this year, it was sorrowful and it just wasn't the same. It didn't seem right to celebrate when so many were picking out flowers for the funerals and getting last memories from the men they loved. We visited the memorial down by the fire station instead and honored the lives lost. Jack found a little circle of matchbox fire trucks and he lost it because he thought they were for him. I tried to explain they were for the daddy's who lost their lives in the fire and that maybe their little boys would get to take one home. Jack cried the whole way home. I think it's overwhelming, even for him at 3. The somber looks on our faces probably scare him a little too. He asked me "why did they die in the fire?" when I explained it to him one afternoon during nap time. He gets it. We prayed for all the little boys who lost their daddy's and thanked Jesus for our daddy.
This town will recover, it will heal eventually, though not fully. But for now, there's not much to do but listen and comfort and help however possible. The helpers even need helping because the pain hasn't been kept from anyone. Not even a little three year old who wanted one of those firetrucks.