Although we were busy all week with frustrating situations that would usually have me complaining, I now view those situations as a rather petty complaint in my life because we were also faced with the tragic loss of a young father on Wednesday. Death always puts life into perspective, don't you think? The worst part of my week was when we found out that one of Chuck's friends (Chris Brumley) from Wichita Falls was killed in a motorcycle accident on Wednesday. It was awful. Chuck and I are actually closer to Chris's brothers, Nathan and Tony, but it still hurts to know that some of your closest friends are hurting. Chuck also considers their dad, Dean Brumley, to be one of the best teachers he has ever had. To make matters worse, we found out that Chris and his wife just had a baby 2 1/2 months ago - a little boy named Chase. Chase has a hand painted piece of wood hanging in his bedroom that reads, "I have a hero . . . his name is Daddy." Bless that little boy and his mommy.
We left Ft. Worth Friday afternoon to attend the visitation where Chuck and his entire high school community (and many members of the Wichita Falls community) were in attendance. We hugged Nathan and Tony and expressed our sympathies, but it is so difficult to say anything when you know that the words, though heartfelt, offer little or no comfort in a time like that. (For those of you who know us, you may have met Nathan and Tony at our wedding - I know they went over to Susan, Kari & Lisa's apartment for the post-wedding party), and Tony and Nathan also joined us last year when we attended the Robert Earl Keen concert at Bass Hall.
Chuck and Tim (chuck's best friend who lived with Chris for a short time) went to Chris's house after the visitation to drink with Nathan, Tony, and others. The next morning we attended the funeral (without Evie) and it was truly heartwrenching. His wife held their baby and walked down the church aisle with Chris's parents and her parents. They all sat on the front row next to the casket and listened to scripture, songs, and stories, and sorrowfully watched a slideshow of Chris's adventurous life. The funeral opened with the song "Stairway to Heaven" and ended with "I'll Fly Away." Chris was 35 and a "man's man." May he rest in peace.
This event prompts me to write that I love each one of you, those far away and those close, my friends and my acquaintances, my family and your family. Everyone's life has a purpose, and I truly believe that Chris's purpose had been served when he was called home to Heaven. So, while I am sad and heartbroken for those Chris left behind, I know that there is a reason and a plan, and I take comfort knowing that God has embraced Chris and holds him close.
Much love to you all.
For the parents out there, below is a poem that was given to Chris's parents by their pediatrician. It was read at his funeral, and brings tears to my eyes at the thought of losing my own children or at the thought of other parents losing their children. Nonetheless, it is a reminder of the blessed times we have with our children and with each other. May we never forget how precious each day is.
"I'll lend to you for a little time,
A child of mine," He said,
"For you to love him while he lives
And mourn for when he's dead."
"It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?"
"He'll bring his charms to gladden you
And should his stay be brief,
You'll have these precious memories
As solace for your grief."
"I cannot promise he will stay
Since all from earth return.
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn."
"I've looked this wide world over,
In my search for teachers true.
And in the crowds that throng life's land,
I have selected you."
"Now will you give him all your love
Not think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call
To take him back again?"
It seems to me I heard them say,
"Dear Lord, thy will be done.
For all the joys a child shall bring,
The risk of grief we'll run."
"We'll shelter him with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known
Forever grateful stay."
"And should the angels call for him
Much sooner than we'd planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand."
- Author Unknown