Wednesday, June 15, 2011

From the Ashes

There's a home in our neighborhood that suffered fire damage a few months back.  Luckily, it was not a total loss, as the fire department contained it to just the master bedroom/bath.  (Kudos to my hubby and his crew)  While the home suffered smoke damage, it could've been much worse.  It happened during the day and nobody was injured.  Really, as far as a house fire is concerned it was one of those "best case scenarios."

I'm sure the family living there doesn't feel the same though.  Their life has been turned upside down the past few months, having to move out on a moment's notice and juggle all the things that come with tragedy or disaster.  Their life has been paused, while the world continues to move forward.  They are living out of boxes in a temporary house while working to rebuild their home.  I'm sure they've had a multitude of decisions to make in the midst of the chaos.

As the home is directly behind ours, I've watched their progress the past few weeks.  One of the things that has amazed me the most is the overwhelming support system they have.  The majority of the work they've done, it seems, has been done by family and friends.  Those friends have worked all hours of the day and night, with the first whacks of the hammer always coming by daylight and the whir of the generator humming through the midnight hour. 

This weekend, I was on the deck letting the dogs play in the yard, and continued to watch their work.  It hit me how symbolic it was of what they were doing, rebuilding after loss.  While their work was physical and you could visually see the progress, it reminded me so much of our own home and the "rebuilding" we've done since losing Austin.

Rebuilding after child loss is no comparison to that of a fire.  A home is material and everything under a roof can be replaced.  Your child cannot.  There will forever be a void where that child was and should now be.  But the damages - spiritually, emotionally and even physically a family suffers from that loss exist, and without an effort made to "rebuild," it can tear a family apart. 

I think back to those first few days, weeks and months after the loss and how broken we were.  I once described it as a cracked windshield.  It still functions and to an unknown observer may look the same, even normal.  But, through the eyes of the family, there are pieces, fragments of what once remained.  You can't do anything without seeing and feeling the loss.  At points you feel as if your family is floating, forever paused in the pain and chaos, and yet everyone else goes on.  There were so many times I wanted to scream, "We are still hurting.  It has not gone away.  It never will," in hopes that time would just stop.

Over time, I guess you just learn move forward ; maybe you just learn to fake it better each day, because in reality the loss never goes away.  Days do get easier, sometimes.  Maybe you just get busier with life again and find ways to fill the space so that you don't think.  It's been two and half years and the pain can come slamming back into me just as if it were that first night all over again.  It happens less often now and I know what triggers it, I expect it on certain days.  Sometimes sadness just comes though and you just have to let it ride it's course.  Sometimes you just have to cry. 

But, I can look back and see progress.  Even though the pain is still there, the loss is still felt, and Austin will be forever missed, I do see where we've grown.  I remember our "firsts" without him - holidays, vacations, special moments - and how I didn't think it was possible we'd get through it but we did.  I remember the fog I was in for so long, not wanting to leave the house or see another living soul, but over time, I returned.  I remember the many prayers I spent asking God to heal our family, to pull those ties closer instead of the stretching away I was feeling at the time.  We are stronger now.  We hug, we talk, we laugh.  Even if in the background each of us has a piece that aches for Austin, and always will, we continue on.  

Our rebuilding, the literal patching back together of our family, wasn't as easy as going to the store and buying supplies.  This healing doesn't come overnight and can only be found from one source.  Our continual restoration comes only from the Master Carpenter.  God is the only answer I can give as to why we've survived all this time without Austin.  Only through Him did we find peace, strength and hope. 

While I can't begin to ever understand the why behind Austin's death, I see purpose from the pain.  I know that he would be proud of how we've progressed, how we've used his story to help and inspire others, and how we push forward every day to make this life the most that it can be until we are all together as a family again.


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