Sunday, September 27, 2009

Joey's Last Picture

This picture was taken accidentally the night Joey flew back to LA from Maui. We had been together for the previous 10 days for his sister's graduation from Hawaii Pacific University--celebrated in the header picture above. Some of our friends happened to be at the airport greeting arriving visitors on the night we dropped Joey off. They unintentionally caught Joey going through TSA inspection on the edge of the picture they took as their friends arrived.
We take it as a message from Heaven. His back is turned to us, and he is going where we cannot go. The sign on the glass door says, "Do Not Enter". The "Up" arrow is reflected on the back of his t-shirt, which seems odd and a little miraculous to me. You can see this even better if you double-click on the photo. He has unloaded all his earthly burdens--his backpack and his shoes are in the plastic bin. This was just minutes after he had given his dad and I the most tender goodbye hug at the airport curb.
I wish he could have stayed with us that night. I wish he were still here. I wish for all my children and grandchildren that he were still part of their everyday existence. I wish I could talk with him and hug him. I wish he could hug me. I wish he could give his advice and take the risks of life with us. I wish he were here to make us all laugh. I wish he was here for Rachel and their future, the children that would have been.
I wish, I wish, I wish.
I miss him so very much. I miss his beautiful smile, and the sunshine of his face. I miss our happy reunions and family vacations. I miss watching him work and network, and make his plans. I miss his music and his strumming. I miss his zest and optimism.
I miss my innocence, my ignorance about the cruelty of death.
I miss my hope about the future.
I miss the past.
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
Eccles. 3:6


karen gerstenberger said...

Dear Karen,
What an amazing gift this photo is, with all of its symbolism. I also LOVE the header on your page, and am glad that you explained its significance, as well.

I join you in your wishes, for they are similar to mine, and I wish they were true for you (as well as for us).

Your comment on my blog brings up many thoughts that I wish I could share with you in person. I hope you read in my words not "pure, unwavering" faith, but the wrestling between what I trust to be true, know and have experienced to be true, and with what IS NOT GIVEN.

One important thing to know about our grief is that we were told 3 times that Katie was going to die, before she did (at diagnosis, during her 18-hour surgery, and upon her relapse). I think this is different from what you have experienced in Joey's sudden death. We had 10 months while Katie was in treatment to live with shock, fear, anger, bargaining, hope, despair, and now we have to do it for the rest of our lives - or until grace gives us peace. I am angry, confused and heartbroken, but I have seen God's grace and faithfulness walking with us in the fire of those 10 months, and afterwards. As we said at Katie's celebration of life: "We didn't get what we asked for; we got what we needed." I am trying to discern the face of God, and His purposes for me, in the midst of this. To lose that connection would be a living death, to me, so I struggle/wrestle to keep my face turned towards His, and MANY times, I FAIL. I want you to know that, and to know that YOUR honesty about your grief helps me to feel less alone. It also encourages me to ask myself tough questions and face my heartache squarely. You are a blessing to me!
(If you ever want to speak privately, my email address is karenlboren at yahoo dot com.

Gannet Girl said...

I wish all of this for you as well.

Our last sight of our son was in the airport as well.

I can't even write about it.

I just wish.

Anonymous said...

Oh Karen when your heart spills over with the things you feel and think it sets into motion everything inside of me. Yesterday I read the coment Angie wrote in our book here in Maui. It
broke my heart as with most things about her. Anything I can grasp on that brings a smile is a struggle at times. As we go off to church I will pray that healing reaches out to you and all who are suffering the loss of their loved one.
Love Sharon

michael, ciara and mikaela said...

Karen, We miss you guys and cannot even fathom. But we do pray & think of you often. Love you!

Jeri said...

My heart aches for you and I'm sorry for your pain and all the mom's who have lost a child. It's not a pain that one would ever want to be familiar with.
Much love and many prayers,

Anonymous said...

There are things we go through in life as Christians where God taps us on the shoulder and says "I'm here or that's Me, this is My comfort." You don't need to question, you just know. Whether it be from someone's understanding hug or a comforting word timely fitted that breaks you into tears because it finds it's target, a broken heart.
I actually was thinking of that picture of Joey the other day. I was thinking how amazing God is to have someone snap a picture so that you feel His gently tap on your shoulder.
Much love and comfort,

Anonymous said...

....Don't stop. Just keep thinking about it.

Sending you love and prayers from afar and believing this promise held for you with you.

Anonymous said...

Wow, no kidding--lots of symbolism. Karen I bet they are up there wishing we would hurry up and come--and wash the stink off before we get there.

You can tell me about this all the days of your life. You don't have to feel one thing today except acceptance.

Maisha Bonnie said...

no words to say but I love you.