One year ago…

Mira past on…

On Christmas Eve, my wife and I loaded our family up in the car, and we left the farm to travel to all the relative’s and share Christmas with them.  We had many miles to travel that day.  Hundreds in fact.  I wasn’t lamenting it though.  Neither was my bride or the kids.  We did have a quick stop to make as we left town though.

We knew the McKnights were having a tough time and I had no illusions about Mira’s physical strength.  If we’d have paid strict attention to the inferences we’d all been made privy to from the many doctors she’d seen, we’d have embraced her mortality much sooner.  But…  Along with being a fighter, Mira had always been quite willing to beat her own drum and dance to her own tune.  She did so in good times and bad.  However, I was worried her health would fail during the Christmas season and it would be extra tough on everyone.

As we rounded the corner to zip down the street to their house, it seemed bitterly cold and very windy.  It’s amazing what you can remember and recall about a certain time in your life.  It’s also equally mystifying what your brain shelters you from and that in which you have no recollection.  Mitch had relayed to me that it wasn’t long now and that hospice had helped them prepare for what may come at any time.  Thus, we didn’t want to barge in and disturb them.  We simply wanted to knock on the door and holler “Merry Christmas” as we drove off.

The intent was to give them their privacy and still remind them that we cared for them all, and were in full celebration of Jesus Christ.  That we did.  Jenny knocked and then I blank out on nearly everything after that instant in time for a few hours.  Honestly.  I could tell you what temperature it was on Christmas Eve 2015 as I turned the car around in the street.  I could tell you what direction the wind was from and an approximate speed.  I can tell you what I was wearing, along with my wife and children.  But I can’t recall for the life of me express to you all whether Jenny spoke with Mitch at the door briefly or we knocked and hollered from the vehicle.  I have no idea why that is.  The mind is remarkable.  Truly a fascination actually.  I sometimes wonder if those specifics are hidden away so I don’t have to deal with what was going on inside the house at that same moment in time.  Perhaps…

We were fully fueled and hit the road for South West Iowa.  We got there and Jenny had a last minute item to pick up at the grocery store.  The car was very warm and both kids had slipped into a nice little Christmas Eve nap, so I dropped her off at the grocery’s front door and chose a spot in the parking lot to wait for her.

It was then I was received a message from Mitch letting me know Mira had ascended to God.  “Mira passed about a half hour ago.” was the text I received.

You can imagine the rest.  What may have been only a couple minutes seemed like several hours as I took a bit of time to shed some tears, pray, and contemplate just how I was going to be helpful to the first best friend I have next to my wife.

Jenny knew when she walked out of the store and locked eyes with me.  Then she opened the car door, sat down, and I was able to eek out verbal confirmation of what she already knew to be self evident.  The rest is worthy of a story on another day.  What I’d really like to concentrate on are two things – understanding the true value of what I experienced and learned through Mira’s life as well as how I can glorify God within those same things.

So what did I learn?

I learned that I didn’t know jack about how to deal with this kind of death.   I learned that as much as I tried, I failed my friends in the capacity I’d thought all along I could hold.  I learned my Faith was misguided and relatively untested to that point.  I learned that I was weak even though I wanted to be seen as strong.  I learned I was hollow when I appeared to be full.  I learned that when you try to be a pillar to others you can skip grieving yourself.  I learned that some had come to see me from a series of facebook posts as a person of help, when the reality was I was lost, aimless, and void the tools necessary to really do right by the people I cared about.  I learned all these things were squarely upon me, and not the result of others.  I learned I was fully to blame for my many shortcomings.

I learned I was kidding myself and I probably knew it all along.  I just did the only things I knew how to do and I messed it up.

Remember earlier when I mentioned the mind has a way of remembering some things in great detail that others seem to be foggy or missing?  That may be the case with me on other levels.  Or maybe I’m avoiding asking myself the hard questions and avoiding some accountability.  That would be hard to say for sure, as I don’t know what I don’t know.

What I do know is I have inspiration and a thorough desire to be better tomorrow than I am today.  I’m worried my mishandling of the countless things I could have done better and more spiritually with Mira and for the McKnight family may have damage them irreparably.  I could really take that one to extremes, but the fact is you can’t take both roads.  Thus you never know about the path you didn’t choose.  And quite candidly, just how much ‘control’ does one person have over situations of loss and grief?  What about control over others beside yourself?  I’m not sure there’s a lot of health in dissecting that up today.  The past is the past, right?

I have since identified some of the many ways I let others and myself and the Lord down.  That was a tough lesson and really harsh realization for me.  Things haven’t been the same and they never will be.  I don’t speak in absolutes that often, but the fact is our lives will never be as they were prior.  Are we the sum total of our experiences?  In large part, yes.

But here’s the thing.  …And there’s really no way to get around it.  We don’t have to settle or adhere to yesterday or yesteryear.  God gives us free will and choices.  He does not give us the means to bargain for a different outcome from that which our choice entails.  What does that mean for me?  I was there when the ride stopped and there was an empty seat.  I got on the ride, but didn’t actually settle into the seat.  As a result, I missed out on some of the really important stuff.  Consequently, because I missed the point I didn’t share what I needed when it was necessary.  That bothers me more than I could express to you.

What are you talking about you ask?  I’m talking about getting it right.  I’m talking about really shoring up my Faith.  I’m talking about defaulting to a position of “what glorifies the Lord” in this situation in every place that question fits.  I didn’t do that.  In some cases I got it right because I was soulful and kept the biblical path in mind.  But I didn’t actually help anyone when I believe I could have.  The truth is I let them all down.  …All of them.

I’m not Debbie Downer that often, so why now?  Well, the point is simple.  I’m  not being D.D.  I’m being honest about the adolescence of my Faith.  I made big mistakes, but I don’t have to do that moving forward.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

I think I owe Mira an apology.  The McKnights deserve that as well.  I tried, but I wasn’t armed with the spirit I should have employed.  I won’t be making that mistake again.  I doubt they’ll even understand.  I’m a verbal guy but this isn’t something I’ve ever talked to them, or anyone else, about at all.  The time to yap is behind me.  Actions are appropriate now.  And so I will…

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