Friday, April 10, 2009

My Son's Sandals and Good Friday

This picture of my son's shoes on his doorstep, where he left them the night before he went to Heaven, puts a thick lump in my throat, a knife pang in my chest, and hot tears down my cheeks. The shoes that will never be worn again, personify him. They reflect his glory-- his beautiful size 12 feet, his slip-on relaxed approach to life, his California/Maui roots, the neat alignment by the door indicative of his orderliness, on the porch of the L.A. bungalow that he was so enthusiastic about making into a home. Inside the door, a full and rich landscape of his life: books, music, instruments, recording equipment, a closet full of shirts that carry his scent, a desk full of media industry business cards, a kitchen full of the gourmet foods he loved to eat, a dining room with his favorite wine, on a mid-century mahogany table he had just purchased, decorated with a handwoven shawl he and Rachel picked up in Central America on their year-long road trip. Outside, his van "Gunther" parked in the driveway, near a garage with neatly boxed ski equipment and surfboards.

A vibrant and bursting life, beautiful in its heartbeat and energy, cut short by an enemy called death. Oh, the grief of early and sudden death. It is the miserable thief of happiness, hope, and joy. And Death, the enemy who stole my son, steals us all, sooner or later.

So today, on Good Friday, I am thankful that Christ also suffered an early death, and died for the lost, for the dark and heavy sins of humanity, for the heartbreak of a bereaved mother. 2000 years ago, on a lonely hill far away, on a harsh cross, Jesus willingly took nails in his hands and feet. He died himself, so that the finality of death would be destroyed. Because of Jesus, someday I will see my son alive and vibrant again.

The suffering of Christ has never meant so much to me as it does this Good Friday. Perhaps Jesus' awesome, sacrificial, history-changing act doesn't sink in till you lose someone you feel you can't live without. My son Joey, whom I miss so deeply, will not be forever separated from us. One day, because of Jesus, we will have a reunion that never ends, and it will explode with life. Death will be done. Heaven and earth will burst with celebration and hope and joy and happiness and peace. All together again.

Good, Good Friday.

" in Christ all shall be made alive. Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." I Cor 15:57


Van Down By The River said...

Karen, simply beautiful. Such a well written passage, with so much heart, and a beautiful description of Joey. I love the way you saw him, and capture pieces of his life in your words. I feel for you, and am thankful for your perspective and sharing.
Love, Rachel

Liza's Eyeview said...

One in a while I wonder while this Friday is called "Good". This explains it well. It is good...

Anonymous said...

I also love your writing Karen and am wondering, had Joey not gone to be with the Lord would all of us be benefiting from your gift. You know, it comforts and ministers to all of us as well as being therapeutic to you. I think you have always been a talented writer but it has only been this last year that all of us are able to see you express so well, your deepest pain, sorrow but also your hope and faith to see Joey again.
I believe the Lord has only just begun with you and your writing.
Much love and comfort,

Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,
We have just returned from Hope Chapel. Awesome Kit gave the message tonight. On this day he too chose to speak of the the good in Good Friday. You may be miles away now but your Hope Chapel bond and the bond you have with Kit is clearly so strong.
Missing you now that I have finally arrived on Maui but as the previous comment says - receiving so much learning from the ministry of your writings - both for my walk with God and my walk as a mother.
Valerie Ryden

Jeri said...


We also had the privilege of hearing Kit's moving and challenging message this evening. Your writings have truly been inspiring and a blessing.

Love & miss you,

Anonymous said...

Because of Good Friday and the love of our Savior, Joey is alive and well in Heaven forever in His arms. And because of the love of a incredible mother and father, Joey will continue to be alive in our hearts. Thank you Karen for this heartfelt description of Joey through what you saw in his home. I saw the same things but not from a loving mother's heart. It is amazing how you are able to connect all these special effects in such a beautiful way. You guys are so missed over here.

Sunday is coming. He is risen indeed!

Love you, Craig

Steve and Jackie said...

We love the new blog. We're with you through every step of "our" journey! Here's to your next happy home! We love you!
Steve, Jackie, Matt, and Britt.

Cid said...

Aloha Karen and Joe(you Godly man awakened to righteousness, who speaks forth the oracles of God!)
It's me, Cid from the class (April's mom)and have been wanting to share this with you - it's from the perspective of another Mother who lost her son...
"I remember the night you came into this world I was trembling as they placed you in my arms.
Your body warmed my hands as I held you to my side. And I wept with joy at the sound of your cry.
I remember the day you spoke your first word, you said "Abba!", raised your eyes to the sky. And the years passed by, you grew in wisdom and in grace; though I taught you how to walk, you taught me how to walk in faith.
And I loved you then. I love you still. I love you till forever passes by. From the cradle to the grave, my love remains the same. You will find me by your side.
I remember the day you made the blind man see.I was standing in the crowds when you looked and smiled at me. People saw your glory; they believed, and they were healed. But not even I, your mother, knew what was to be revealed.
I remember the day you carried the cross. I met you on the road to Calvary. I was pierced with sorrow; I was full of grace. Child, let me die for you - I would gladly take your place.
Just as I stood at the foot of your cradle, I stood at the foot of your cross. I am here, my child; you are not alone. I'll be with you till you're safe back in your Father's home.
I remember the night you died for this world. I was trembling as they placed you in my arms. They took your body from the cross, and I held you to my side. I wept bitterly- my son was
And I loved you then. I love you still. I will love you till forever passes by. From the cradle to the grave, my love remains the same. You will find me by your YOUR side."
- from the cd "Mysteries" by Danielle Rose.
You are LOVED! cid

Maisha said...

Cid, you're awesome. I will always remember that quote and that class together. and, yes, Joe Johnson is a "Godly man awakened to righteousness, who speaks forth the oracles of God!" :-)
I MISS YOU JOE AND KAREN!! Happy Easter...and all my love. Maisha

the Keplers said...

You say it so wonderfully, Karen. Joe texted me at 3:00 AM this morning your time, to find out "How did Kit do?" How poignent that both you and Kit speak of the "good" in Good Friday! How reassuring that you both remind us that death ushers us into Life. We love you, Karen and Joe. Have a blessed family time tomorrow, and so will the Keplers.
Bill and Lu

Anonymous said...

The picture of Joey's shoes by his front door spoke volumes! I wait with great expectations for a book by Karen or by both of you.You have touched so many lives here on Maui and will be missed more than you could possibly know!We are lifting you and your family up in prayer as you celebrate the frist Easter without Joey.God Bless,Joyce and Jesse

Nancy Loren said...

That was a very special sharing of Joey, thanks for opening your ♥ to us all!
Love you guys and will continue to pray for Comfort and Peace beyond all understanding!

Here's wishing you a Blessed Easter!

He is Risen!...He is Risen Indeed!
love and aloha,

Anonymous said...

You made me cry...I just got some of Joe's old songs from JR and listened to "Stream" the ukulele version while reading.

I will never forget seeing his slippers on that doorstep. That was when it really hit me that I would never see my friend on this earth ever again.

I put them on whenever I'm really missing him or its a really great day...almost like I want him to experience the day with me.

Jaimers said...

Beautiful Mama, just beautiful.

Kevin, you made me cry with what you wrote, I remember walking up to the house with you and seeing you so broken when you saw his slippers there.I am so sad for you and share your pain.