"If We Could See..."
(Originally, this was taken from an email to a dear sister in Christ who had recently lost her son to a mitochondrial disorder, one month before his seventh birthday. It was published here with permission.
Steven looks adorable!
I like to think that Karen and our children (Sarah, Ben & Rachel) greet the loved ones that leave us here because of mito disorders.
I can imagine that your heart is broken. You have a very great burden to bear with Steven passing and with your husband gone; and the difficult task of facing life without either of them will sometimes feel overwhelming. I know that this will sound trite, but God is still with you even now when life seems so dark...
The little boy was very afraid of the dark. So afraid, in fact, that he just couldn't go to sleep no matter how hard he tried. He imagined that horrible things were just out of sight waiting for him in the darkness. His father understood his child's fear, he remembered having the same fears of the dark when he was his son's age. The father entered his son's room, sat on the edge of the bed, and gently explained that the darkness would only last until the morning, when the sun would again brighten the day.
The little boy was beside himself with fear, how could his father say that, when the boy just knew that the horrible things would get to him when the light was gone? The father knew how frightened his child was. He made a promise to his son. He promised that no matter how long the darkness lasted, he would stay right there by the child's side until sleep came to bring peace to the little boy's night.
The child thought about this promise, and asked his father how he would know that he wasn't alone in the darkness. The father answered, "I will hold your hand in mine, Son. When you feel afraid in the darkness, hold tightly to my hand and you'll know that you are not alone."
"But, what if I let go of your hand? What if I can't find you in the dark?" the frightened little boy asked. The father lovingly answered his child, "I will never let go of your hand, Son, I will never leave you alone in the darkness. I will always be right here with you."
Since his father had never broken a promise to him, the little boy snuggled down into his covers and put his hand into his father's. He watched as his father reached over and turned out the light. The darkness came, and with it came the fear of the things that the boy imagined were waiting for him there. But this time, in the darkness, he felt the reassuring grasp of his father's hand, the brush of his father's lips across his forehead, and the echo of his father's promise in his mind, "I will never let go... never let go... never alone... never alone..."
Many years later, the little boy became a father himself. His little girl was very afraid of the dark. So afraid, in fact, that she just couldn't go to sleep no matter how hard she tried. She imagined that horrible things were just out of sight waiting for her in the darkness. Her father understood, and he made her a promise...
I was very afraid of the darkness, too, and thought that I would die from the pain and loneliness. But our Heavenly Father made us a promise that because of His great love for us, He would never leave us or abandon us to the darkness (Hebrews 13:5b). I know a little about how you must be feeling. But more importantly, God understands all of your fears, and He really does care. You just need to hold onto His hand...
I only know a little about how you feel, Elaine, but I would imagine that I felt something very similar when the darkness overtook Karen and I. Does the pain go away? For me? It has gotten easier to bear, but there are times that I still feel as if I can't face another day of being alone. If it were not for the grace of God to hold me up and to meet our needs when I can't, and his mercy to cover me when I give into the stress and fear and lose faith, I would quickly give up when I find myself afraid of the dark again.
I use to wonder why God let Karen grow so ill and then die. If He had not, I would never have known how much that He really loves me, and I would never have been able to write to my sister in Christ, halfway around the world, and offer her comfort and hope.
Give yourself time to heal. It takes years to heal and to adjust to such a great loss. Sometimes just a few years, and then, for those who loved more deeply than most, sometimes much longer. It all starts with being willing to heal, and it's a slow process. Don't let anyone tell you to "Get over it!" Be willing to listen to and to trust God to help you find ways to heal.
Celebrate Steven's birthdays, and talk about him because he is alive and is There, and just not gone forever. Imagine him in your arms healthy and sweet smelling, full of life and joy, on that day when we all meet together forever. And when you need to weep, weep. It is God's way of allowing us to express that which we cannot speak in words, that which is truly from the heart. It is like the rain that washes away the dust on the flowers, so that we can see their beauty in the sunlight.
Remember that He will NEVER leave you or forsake you, even if you are weak and have only a little faith to sustain you. Even if you have no faith left at all, His grace can carry you until you are able to walk on your own again. I have never read anything in the Scriptures that forbids us to talk as if our loved ones can hear us, and I even ask God at times to carry a message to Karen and to our children. Remember, our loved ones may be in perfect health, and in a perfect Place, but they can still miss us and talk to God of us.
Imagine.  Your perfect little Steven could be sitting in Jesus' lap right now, his bright cheery face looking up into our Lord's. He sees a bird fly by and laughs in delight at its flickering wings and at its high, clear singing. Then he snuggles into the Lord's arms, looks up into those eyes that saw the beginning of Time and of Life itself, and asks, "Jesus? Would you watch over Mommy for me? I can't be there, and I think that she's very, very sad that I'm here with you now instead of with her."
And down the cheeks of the Face that bears the scars of our redemption, tears flow silently down to fall onto Steven's, upturned and inquiring...
"Are you sad, too?" Steven asks, touching the tears that sparkle in the light on the cheeks that felt the Betrayer's kiss.
"Yes, I am. My Father knows how much it hurts to lose the One that you love the most, and He knows that your mommy misses you just as much as He missed Me when I died."
"You died?" Steven asks in wonder.
"Yes, I died so that you and your mommy and anyone who asks can be my Father's children, too. Then, when they die, they can come here to live with me and all of the others who are His children."
Steven said slowly, "I guess that I died, too. I remember being real sick and Mommy taking care of me." An inner light brightened Steven's face as he asked, "Will you take care of Mommy now?"
"Oh, yes, Steven, I will. She will miss you always, and there will always be a place in her heart for you, but her sadness will last a long time and she will need me to be with her."
"That's good. I think that you'll take good care of Mommy, just like she took good care of me." said Steven, and he snuggled back into the arms that had felt the rough wood of the Cross. The child who had never known perfect health on earth, relaxed and fell asleep in the arms of God.
The Hands that created the earth caressed the soft ruddy shoulders of the child in His lap and pulled him close. "Because of my great love for your Mommy, Steven, I will never leave her alone or forsake her. I will be there whenever she wakes in the darkness and weeps in her loneliness for you. I will stand before my Father's throne and declare my love for her and ask my Father to hold her in His hands."
After a long while in that timeless light, the Lord called quietly, "Dearheart, would you please take Steven? I need to be with his mother for a while."
"Yes, My Lord, most willingly." The beautiful blue-eyed maiden with long, chestnut tresses, her dancing form wrapped in a blue gown that shimmered in the light of Heaven, gently took the sleeping child in her arms and said, "Lord...?"
"Would you please check on Michael and Mikey, too?"
"Yes, Karen, I will."
And the Son, the Creator, the Saviour of Mankind, brought himself to be beside a mother in South Africa, wracked with grief and weeping over her loss of her little Steven to a relentless disease, even while she rejoiced that he was in Heaven whole and alive.
And at the same time He was beside a young boy on the other side of the world, restless in sleep, missing his mother's love.
As He was also beside the boy's father, still sometimes grieving and in pain over losing his beloved Karen to the same relentless disease.
And... over and over again.. beside every one of His Father's children. Watching over them, loving them, staying by their sides, praying for them, until the Darkness is finally gone, Forever.
We pray for all of the mito folk... every week. We'll especially mention you and Steven's daddy.
Talk to Him, Sis. He's more than sufficient. I know. :o)
Love in Christ
JPEG-formatted Photograph(s): Copyright © 2000 Elaine Olivier
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Copyright © 2000 2002 2003 Michael Jackson
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