(Click here for Part 1 of 2)

The morning was cold…gray…still.  Car doors slamming as the graveside service was about to begin.  Hundreds had gathered to lay my mom to final rest.  Sensing the service was about to begin, I gathered the pallbearers in a circle behind the hearse.

My voice quivering, yet audible.  “Guys, I just wanted to say thank you for agreeing to do this.  No one wants to be doing this.  This is so unexpected, so crazy, so sad.  But I appreciate each one of you.  I appreciate our love and our friendship.  Know that this coffin isn’t the only thing I’m asking you to carry today.  This will take time to heal from, please…carry me…carry my family…we need your love, support and prayers right now.  In Sunday School, we’re taught to carry each other’s burdens.  Guys, my burden is heavy.  My family’s burden is heavy.  I’m counting on each of you.”

My voice trailing off, no words were needed.  Each, offering a hug, acknowledged they would be there to give me the support and love I needed.

With that, we each assumed our designated positions beside the casket in need of transport from the hearse to the gravesite.  Physically, it was heavy.  Emotionally, it was massive.

The pastor finished his remarks and the crowd returned to their cars, planning to head back to the church for lunch and a continued celebration of Mom’s life.

The family was slow to leave.  Still trying to take it in.  Still trying to make sense of it.  Words were sparse, and unneeded.  We knew the road ahead was going to be hard.  But we knew we had to be strong.  I scooped Kya, then 3, up in my arms and gave her a big kiss.  I asked her if she was hungry.  “Yes, Daddy!”  We all headed back to the Family Car to join the others at the church.

Later that evening, I looked up the passage.  “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2.  To my pallbearers, my band of brothers, thank you for helping carry my burden in that season.  Mark, Kyle, Deric, Adam, Terry (now deceased), you’re a living example of trust and friendship, of brotherhood.  You were there for me, know that I’ll always be there for you as well.

Everything happens for a reason…

The points and places we encounter may test our resolve…

I’m choosing life.  I’m choosing hope.  I’m choosing to not allow the tragedy of that day to take me down.  It won’t take me out.  It won’t define me.  I’m turning that tragedy into triumph…that stumbling block into stepping stones.

Spring of 2021.  The book.  I’m working on it.  Mom’s legacy will live on…