Last November, as the first anniversary of the day Dustin passed got closer, I struggled writing a blog about it. My wonderful husband, Dean, stepped in and wrote one for me. (A Letter to Dustin -- Our Son (opendoorcoach.com). I put together a slide show of pictures to go with it, and that was my healing process. I was trying to honor him “on time” but was gently told that there are no deadlines for honoring a son who is gone.
As I start writing this, the two-year anniversary of Dustin’s death is November 25th, a week from today. I am giving myself some grace this time – not trying to “do it right”. Nope…no unrealistic self-imposed expectations. I’m just going to let my spaghetti-bowl brain* work the way it wants and share some musings I’ve had over the past few months. My prayer is that at least one of them will resonate with you.
Musing #1: Walking in the neighborhood early one morning, I witnessed a beautiful dark red sunrise. I whispered “Thank you, Lord” for not just the sunrise, but the beauty of All His creation. Then it hit me. On a Sunday morning 2000+ years ago, there was a sunrise that marked a one-time event…the SonRise of Jesus from the grave. It, too, was marked by the color dark red, but not in the sky. That dark red was the blood of Jesus that would still have been visible at the foot of His cross. I will never look at a red sunrise again without thanking God for His sacrifice.
On the day Dustin died, I remember thinking “I’m not the first Mom who has ever lost a son. Mary did.” Mary, the mother of Jesus, knew my pain. That simple acknowledgement gave me a great deal of comfort and helped me survive that horrible day. Because of His death, we can have the assurance of knowing Dustin is in Heaven.
Musing #2: “Why God?” Is a question that I would love to have answered. Dean and I have had lots of conversations in which we have discussed the hidden blessings (yes, blessings) that are possible as a result of Dustin’s death. For example, because Dustin lives in Heaven, Olivia will not have to grow up going back & forth between her mom and dad’s houses. Bradi is a beautiful, loving mom and is married to Haden, who is an amazing dad, and they help keep Dustin’s memory alive for her. So now, the question “Why God?!” has become a statement, a proclamation of understanding that “Why God??” is answered “Why God, it's because You want me to rely on you, because You are God.” I couldn’t have said it better than this: Austin French - Why God (Official Lyric Video) - YouTube
Musing #3: When you are young, you don’t worry about how long you’re going to live. But at some point, that question becomes very relevant, and you begin hearing or reading statements such as “You have more runway behind you than ahead of you” or “Do it now, because your days are numbered.” There are actuarial tables and online calculators and people who specialize in trying to determine how long we’re going to live. They have a purpose…I get that. But here’s what I know: God doesn’t use online calculators. He, and ONLY He, knows exactly how long we will live. I don’t think we need to worry so much about how long we live; but what’s more important is HOW we live.
Musing #4: A month ago, Tim Challies wrote an article called What You Can Take With You Into Eternity | Tim Challies. In it, he states what we all know – nothing material can go with you after death. But he points out that one thing we will take with us into eternity is our character – who we are, what people see in us. “Character” may be good or bad, exemplary or flawed. So, spend whatever number of days God has given you doing and being a person of good character. I can vouch for what Tim Challies’ short blog says with two men: My Dad – Robert Copenhaver, and Dean’s Dad – Gib Fox. Both were men of strong character, and this was proven in life by the way they led their families. It was also testified to by the outpouring of love and things that were said about them at their funerals. Their character is still very much alive in their surviving family and friends. But sometimes character bears testimony in other remarkable ways…
In 2020, Dustin had been asked to be a groomsman for a friend’s wedding. I knew nothing about it (and didn’t know the couple, Aaron & Adrienne) until a friend of his that I do know (Davina) called and asked if I would send her a picture of Dustin that they could use for the wedding. They still wanted Dustin to be a groomsman! Davina's husband (Brandan) held the photo of Dustin during the ceremony so Dustin could be a part of it. That was last March, and it filled my heart with joy to see so much love for our son expressed by his friends.
In October, Davina sent me another picture of Dustin, this time at his friends, Eric & Amanda’s, wedding...
We had been amazed at the wonderful things said about Dustin at his memorial, beginning with his big brother, Derek, and from all his friends – most of whom we have never met in person. Dustin was loved by many people because he was a man who loved people. He cared about them. He was a good friend. He helped them. He made them laugh. He gave hugs to anyone who needed one. He was a great Daddy for Olivia. He had his flaws – we all do – but he had character. And it will be that character that we will hold dear in our hearts until we are with him once again, in Heaven.
Which brings me to my last Musing… #5…a personal celebration:
After Dustin died, I expected to dream about him. Didn’t happen. I prayed for it…to see his face in my dreams since I couldn’t in real life; to have a conversation with him in my head. Nothing. For…2…YEARS! Then last week it happened! It was only for a brief moment; he was only 8 or 9 years old, but the face with that huge smile on it that woke me immediately was our Dustin! Only God knows why it’s taken this long, but I’ll take it! Thank you, Lord!
Isn't God amazing?
*Spaghetti Brain: The way my (and other women’s) brain often works…a thought pops in, starts down one trail, then jumps to a different one and takes off in another direction. It may take 3 or 20 jumps before I get to where I was trying to get, but I do get there eventually! [Thank you, Mark Gungor, for helping me know I’m not the only one who does this! Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, Laugh Your Way Store (markgungor.com)]