Tuesday, September 22, 2009


i sit here a bit overwhelmed.
sometimes there is so much on your heart that finding words to express it seems impossible.
so much is stirring inside that...well...withdrawing and sitting in silence is the best way to grieve and to allow yourself to hear exactly what God is whispering.

if you watch the news or read any number of newspapers...or heard this story passed down to you through conversation, you'll know the story i'm about to relay. it's certainly rocked me to the core, caused me to assess my life...ask questions i've never asked and ponder on the Sovereignty of God and His sometimes strange purposes for us and through us, here on earth.

last saturday, julie and i were driving to a wedding we were hired to photograph.
it was an hour away in chesapeake beach and so we had time to chat, laugh, discuss the upcoming details of the wedding and enjoy the change of pace.

my phone vibrated on the dashboard and i heard the most horrific and probably the most tragic story of my life. you know, firsthand. these things seem to happen to 'other' people, but never to somebody personally afflicted with these circumstances.

you may remember the engagement party i went to earlier this year. one of my best friends, lanier, and i flew to NC to be at her sister's engagement party. parker, lanier's sister, and thomas are actually getting married in a few weeks.

anyways, as julie and i were driving to a wedding on saturday, thomas' best friend and groomsman, chris, was actually getting married that same day at 11am in NC.

at 8am that morning, chris, and two of his groomsmen were driving to meet thomas for breakfast before the wedding.

they were sitting at a stop sign and were plowed into by a car running the opposing stop sign. chris was thrown from the car, run over by an oncoming car and killed three hours before his wedding ceremony. chris was taken to a medical center, and the two other groomsmen were taken to the local hospital. they walked out with cuts and bruises, otherwise fine, wondering where their friend chris was. they were told to go to the medical center to receive additional news. upon arriving, they were told that chris had died.

one of the groomsmen had to call a bridesmaid.

a bridesmaid had to tell the bride, already in her wedding gown, prepping for portraits...that three hours shy of becoming a wife...her fiance is dead.

friends from all over had flown in.
and some very wise and loving people put together programs and made it possible for the wedding ceremony to become a memorial service...

the bride spoke about her fiance, in a memorial service, at the same alter and at the same time she was supposed to become a wife.

the whole notion, which does certainly grow worse the longer you have time to let it sink in, is unspeakably horrific and catastrophic and agonizing.

all of the tragedies in my life COMBINED cannot begin to hold a candle to this story.

it seems so unnecessary and extreme and undeserved.

it seems as though every year i grow older, i become more exposed and acquainted with grief of this magnitude and it kindles an ache deep in my heart for Heaven.
i know that one day, all Christians will be reunited.
one day, every tear will be wiped away.
one day, all injustices will be made right. and perfect. and pain will cease to exist.

we were not meant for this world.
our hearts were not created to endure this pain.
this world is not our home...

and chris is Home.
and though the fallout of his passing is inexpressibly agonizing, God reigns over all.

but there is certainly a suspended amount of time where agony lingers...and may linger for the remainder of our time here.
what do you do with it?
how do you face it?
why do the walls that we build so tall and broad around our hearts not stave off the sleepless days and nights of unending sorrow?
we are so weak.
we are but dust...
our mind's justifications are so futile when raw tragedy and it's ramifications crash down upon us and all but suffocate us.

and then the story takes on a new layer.
and we ask ourselves the pressing questions that strip away the trivialities of life...
what if it were me?
or my husband.
or my child.
am i ready for this life on earth to be taken...
am i ready to face God.

what have i left behind?
what would i have left unfinished?
would i be proud of my life's work?
or wait...
would God be proud of my life's work....?

i never knew chris...but could not stop crying.
i'm not sure if it's the wife in me.
or the mother...
chris was an only child.
isaac is my only child.
this bride was in her wedding dress.
i've been in a wedding dress.

the agony for this family simply compounded with each day of this past week ...tidbits of news coming in. the aftershocks. the wedding party. the now childless parents. returning tuxedos. handing out grooms gifts. the obituary.

would i cling to His promises to provide grace, and peace, and know that He causes every moment of every day in our lives to bring glory to His name?

would i hold onto the knowledge of His Sovereignty?
would i value anything above the anchor of my salvation?

having Christ does not offer safety from life's most tragic trials. there is not one of us who is forever safe from being blindsided by a tsunami.

i am deeply rattled.
i witnessed and documented a wedding ceremony unfold before my eyes on saturday, knowing that a bride who set out do to the same in north carolina, would never see her groom again on this side of eternity.

there is no reconciling that with all of our our human compensations combined.
our reasonings cannot compute and only fall short and can never do justice.

it is only reconciled through Christ.
and that is the only magnificent and glorious Truth we have as an answer to the pain envelopes us and causes our fallen hearts to shatter again and again...

i wonder how individuals survive tragic loss of this sort without any sort of bedrock in Scripture. without the knowledge that:

I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth...
...the LORD will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

and to think, this is simply a vignette of what's to come in this world.
nothing here is eternal. everything here is only here for but a moment.
every year will be clouded by goodbye's of some sort...this is just a reality of life.

of course all of this happened on a rather emotional weekend for me BEFORE i received the news.
our vacation was canceled.
i had a horrific emergency surgery on monday.
then i had a psychotic episode that could rival...i dunno...britney spears.
then i was given sedatives on top of the myriad of nerve medications and narcotics.
and guess what...?
there is no end in sight.
i spent a week in a very dark pit...and was told i'm not certain when i'll ever get out.
there are days of this past week i do not even remember. it's probably best that way.

for obvious reasons, by comparison, this can never hold a candle to the above story -- but simply serves as a reminder that our bodies, our circumstances and even our best set plans will often times fail us.

do not place stock here on earth...
the sooner i embrace this, the less i'll be surprised by the unexpected...
and the more i'll find sweet relief in the Glory that is set before me.

i feel this has been a year of steep lessons for my family.
and i don't want to learn to buck up...or be strong...or float through them.
i pray that i sit in silence more often.
whether forced or chosen.
and hear Him.
and believe Him.

Lord, help my unbelief....

Tis everlasting peace!
Sure as Jehovah's Name;
tis stable as His steadfast throne,
and evermore the same.

The clouds may come and go,
and storms may sweep my sky.
This blood-sealed friendship changes not:
The cross is ever nigh.

My love is oft-times low,
My joy still ebbs and flows,
But peace with Him remains the same,
No change Jehovah knows.

I change, He changes not,
The Christ can never die,
His love, not mine, the resting place,
His Truth, not mine, the tie.

Horatius Bonar


The Babcock Family said...

oh allison that is just the most horrific story. just awful.

i can't even imagine having to document a wedding after hearing that news. (you did a beautiful job.)

many prayers for peace for that family.

chrissy said...

i had the same range of emotions when i heard. i felt sad.....then as it sank in...devasted for them. i ached. i imagined it being me....or my child....or someone i knew very well. i got more rattled.

then i complained about something that day and felt utter shame.

it's so hard to deal with because, as you said, we were not meant for this world. death was never intended. therefore, the grief is immense. you can hold off SOME grief knowing you'll see them again....or they're in a perfect place....or what have you. but, again you ache because, that person is no more. and in this situation, he was taken on such a painfully important day in both their lives.

i love this post because it's real. it's true. and you said it well.....

thanks cat.

Mayes Capitol Courage said...

We are grateful for the role you play in our family's lives, Allison. Not only because you truly ache when we ache, but because you put words to emotions we never could. You serve as a reminder of what is True and what is Right. As for what you continue to struggle through, it is our honor to pray you through yet another valley, believing as we did when you waited on God to grant you Isaac, that there is sunshine on the other side of these clouds. And, as Chris Raynor loved to sing, "Wont you help me share my load
From the dark end of the street
To the bright side of the road..."

Anonymous said...

Allison, my name is Becky and I was one of the bridesmaids from the wedding you were photographing on that Saturday. I am actually sitting here with Audrey and we were just checking your blog for pictures you may have posted from the wedding. To think you received such horrific news just before arriving to the house where we were staying is so difficult for me to wrap my mind around. You were so friendly, composed and professional despite the circumstances. We are so sorry to hear about this and our thoughts are with the family.

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