Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fast Shoes And A Broken Heart

John 14:2 “”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; and if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.”

Four years ago today on December 13th our son, Kevin, age 25, died of congestive heart failure after a virus attacked his heart. Kevin had gotten sick with a respiratory virus a couple of months prior to this and eventually went to the doctor when he could not lie down and sleep without becoming short of breath. The doctors discovered that his heart was surrounded with fluid, and testing showed his heart was only functioning on a level of 20%. He would eventually need a heart transplant to save his life. He was put on oxygen and went home to wait for an appt. with a specialist.

On Dec. 13th we woke up to the phone ringing at 3:30am. A nurse from an ER in CO was on the phone telling us we needed to get down to the hospital right away as our son was in cardiac arrest and had “coded”. I told her we lived 4 states away and that would not be possible. I asked her to please have someone call us back as soon as they knew something more. In our bedroom Joel and I laid in bed holding each other, crying, and praying for our son. We finally received a call an hour later telling us that they could not resusitate him ~he had died. Kevin left behind a son, a newborn baby daughter, and a fiancé.

Joel and our oldest son flew out to CO for the funeral. My nephew and his wife offered for them to stay at their home and they also attended the funeral. I was too sick to travel. Due to our families living in the Midwest, we had a memorial service for our son at our church right after Christmas, so that everyone could attend.

At one point during a conversation with our oldest daughter, she made the comment that Kevin had died of a broken heart~ not just a physical broken heart, but also an emotional broken heart. There is a lot of truth in that statement.

Kevin came to us at age 3. He was a beautiful, quiet, little boy whom we had welcomed into our family when we were living out west. He had been neglected and abused by his birth mother and birth grandmother, and taken away from them when he was a year old. We also discovered a few yrs later that he had also been sexually abused in his foster home. Because of all this abuse, Kevin really trusted no one. He was filled with anger and even after years of therapy throughout his childhood years, he could not adjust to a family. We worked hard to keep him in our home, but when social workers and therapists strongly recommended that he be placed into a treatment center, we made one of the most difficult decisions of our parenting lives. At age 13 we placed Kevin at a Boys’ Ranch in S.D. He did very well there working with horses ~ you see, animals he could trust. He was even able to ride a horse in the inauguration parade for Pres. Clinton. When he was 19 he went to Job Corp and trained to be a mechanic, and this took him to CO. This is where his short and difficult life ended.

I am choosing to remember the good times with our son. The day we brought him into our family he came with only a grocery bag 1/3 full of all his belongings. We immediately took him shopping for clothes and shoes that would fit. When he put his new shoes on, with a big smile on his face he said, “NOW I HAVE FAST SHOES!” From that day forward Kevin's love for shoes was well known. We kept those first pair of shoes and our oldest daughter asked for them after he died. They hold special meaning for all of us. When Kevin first came to be with his forever family, I remember sitting by the bed and holding his hand at night until he fell asleep because of his fears. I remember Kevin playing football with his older brothers ~ wearing a jersey and helmet that engulfed him. I remember his excitement over Christmas and Birthday presents when he was little. I remember his baptism, his confirmation ~ even the time he came home from the ranch and helped me clean all the windows in the house. These, among other things, are what I choose to remember about our son. I have chosen not to dwell on the difficult times nor the what ifs…the could haves…should haves…maybes…

We have worked through a lot of our grieving. It has come in stages…we grieved when he told us about the abuse…we grieved when he had to leave our home…we grieved deeply when he died. We continue to grieve our son's death. But in many ways, Kevin is in a better place. Our good friend gave the sermon at his memorial service and he said, “Kevin has gone before us to Heaven where he awaits our homecoming. He went before us because, after all, he always did wear “fast shoes”.

We know that we can believe God’s promise…”I go to prepare a place for you..” He welcomed Kevin home and even though sadness still touches us at the most unexpected and expected times, we feel a sense of assurance, knowing that Kevin no longer suffers any internal pain. For the first time ever, he is at complete peace.


Mckay K said...

Renee I am sadden by your loss. But encouraged by the way you have chosen to align and balance your life.

I lost my mother on December 18. It was over 31 years ago. Needless to say, there have been difficult Christmases. Today I celebrate her life and the joyful place she made our home.

Be well.

Renee said...

Thank you McKay. Your words hold comfort for me.
Merry Christmas!