What Names Us?

***The first half was written prior to Willy's memorial***

In the wake of Willy's death, and how it happened, I cannot shake how others will judge him. I'm in the car driving with my girls and I see a man in his 30s on the side of the road not looking his best and see Willy in him.  I am praying for Jesus' eyes to see people more strongly these weeks.

This process is stripping me of preconceived notions and judgement; because, all I can see is Willy and who I knew him to be.  It's what also breaks me; because, honestly, in so many ways he wasn't always present to be the dad I know he was and wanted to become.  

Addiction is a beast.  It's why I can't watch shows like Breaking Bad where the world of meth is even given a platform of how easily it's used to destroy others.  Drugs are from the pit of hell. Everything about them is possessed with destruction, lies and death.  

It takes the best of an individual and turns them into a whole other person.  It denies them the right to take hold of their life and see the true kingdom life Jesus offers.  

And so, I see the addict on the side of the road and see not what maims them; but, their imago dei.  

If I could express to you how wonderful Willy really was, to know him was a gift.  Anyone who met him immediately liked him.  He had this natural ability to make people feel at ease.  He could ease the tension within a room.  It's what made children and animals instinctively flock to him (much unlike the salmon of capistrano).  

He didn't get to know his son Lucas, who looks just like him.  And Annabelle, who also looks like him, won't know her daddy.  This is the part of his short lived story, which often brings me to tears.  I so wished Willy could have held Lucas one last time.  It's the part of death's sting, which leaves it's venom lingering. 

His memorial will be on Saturday, which is almost one month since he died.  It's been said by pastors how the memorial is the crescendo of grief.  Everything rests upon this moment to be able to loosen the ties of surrealism to realism.  It's the moment when the perfect storm occurs and we are no longer wondering if Willy will walk through the door; but, we see the ashes in the box are him to return to the Earth. 

Waves of sadness come over me at random, and often unhelpful times through the day.  Washing dishes the tears roll predictably (I guess I should be exempt from washing dishes--yes?). 


It is now October 12th and tears are not my constant friend as they once were.  There is still a tenderness deep in my belly; but, it's like any encounter with such intensity of chaos, blood and tears...you take grip of life-breathing breath and inhale.  You hang pictures on the wall to remember your brother, you read books to your children and rekindle a newness in your marriage; because, I can either choose life or death in life.  

Another day I will write about the memorial.  That was the most profound and tender days I have ever known.  The whole extended was holy ground.  I understand more now what Moses felt like to loosen his sandals to walk before the God Almighty & live to tell it's tale.  

But, for now, I am choosing to see the gift in my brother's death.  I'm choosing to cling to love.  Oh, not my love.  My love fails immensely.  Rather, the love I see in Jesus pounding out all of his blood, sweat & tears into me and how he would endure it over and over again if it meant I would find life.  

I'm choosing to see how his love casts out fear of the unknown.  I'm choosing love to see people in a whole new light.  I'm choosing to cast off words of shame, stories of shame and throw them back into the pit of hell where they belong.  Willy's death has brought out God comforting me in some of the most profound ways I've never known.  This is where I rest these days.  This is what names me.