A few weeks ago I started going through old photos and videos on my computer. I laughed and cried as I reminisced over a lifetime of memories and the joy and trials of raising three kids in our little house in South Texas.
I have scrolled through this index a hundred times – but now that Bryce is gone, each frame has become more important….a precious lifeline to his facial expressions and the sound of his voice. There is nothing more priceless than this not-large-enough collection.
I came across a series of videos I took on my phone back in April. One evening Bryce had come home to do laundry and eat dinner. His little sister had just bought a Ripstik with some Christmas money she had been saving. Since Bryce was our resident expert on anything skateboard (or danger) related, he was more than happy to join Ryan outside as she tried to figure out how to ride this new toy while wearing her new Mohawk helmet (which is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen).
A Ripstik is a cross between a skateboard and a snowboard, and trust me, it’s difficult to ride. Or maneuver. Or whatever one does. I put a foot on it once and was positive I would spend the next day in traction.
But Bryce knew how to do it and was willing to teach Ryan how to ride it. So I watched without comment the night he taught her to ride.
I was speechless when she fell HARD onto the street, and Bryce didn’t run to help her up.
Instead I saw him get down on the ground and demonstrate…not proper foot placement, hip movement, balance or how to avoid that unavoidable fall backwards for beginners.
But he showed her how to fall – literally.
I watched him put his hands behind him demonstrating how painful and dangerous it would be to fall incorrectly. If you put your arms down to break your fall, you could easily break your wrist, some fingers or even your arm. It’s better to land on your bottom. You’ll most likely bruise and be sore, but an injury to the bottom is preferable to broken bones.
He didn’t show her how to never fall, because Bryce knew it was inevitable. So being her protective big brother, he showed her how to fall better.
And boy did he know how to fall. This is the kid that I’d nursed dozens of times – scrapes, bruises and cuts just because he couldn’t resist that steep hill in Landa Park. Or that difficult trick he was always trying to perfect. I once found out from a neighborhood mom that Bryce had been hit by a car while he was skateboarding. An actual CAR….driving down the street. He told me it was just an ‘old lady’ and I was like ‘you better be glad they drive slowly!’ (Yes, my life.)
For sure, if it was something that was possible, Bryce was going to be doing it over and over. And if he succeeded, he would only do it more. I already knew this.
So I’m watching these videos of Bryce and Ryan….and I’m thinking for the millionth time since he died on July 30 that I can’t do this. I just cannot. I’m remembering that night in April, what we had for dinner, what we talked about, that sleeveless flag shirt he was wearing. I hear his voice and I’m missing him so much it physically hurts.
Suddenly I am so aware of the truth.
We are all falling. Going to fall. Perpetually falling. Getting run over, because we are having fun or not paying attention, or just because we are living in this world. Human. Past the age of zero….
The truth is there is no graceful way to fall. We all come out bleeding. If we are living. If we are in the real world. If we have children and family we love. Friends we love. There is no stopping the cuts and scrapes in this life.
But here is what I want people to know about our journey – it’s not God who wounds us. He doesn’t choose who gets hurt or who loses children. It’s just the fallen state of this world and none of us make it out without falling once or a thousand times. Some falls take an hour to recover from, or a year. And then other falls last the rest of our lives. We never fully recover.
I’m sure if Bryce could teach me how to fall now – how to persevere through his death, land correctly, that he would do his very best.
He walks with me through this valley and gives comfort and peace. He’s faithful to grant mercy in those moments that it’s hard to breath or when my heart explodes into pieces.
And learning to fall…..oh I am finding a great lesson in that video of Bryce and Ryan that I watch over and over. As Bryce shows her how to not land on her wrists, I’m reminded not to land on my pride or my self-preservation.
God isn’t looking for me to survive this or to show the world that I’m strong. God is looking for me to turn to Him, depend on Him. To write something down that might encourage the next grieving mother. Or the next person who has lost anything that makes them want to stop living. God is looking for me to point to Him – even as I’m weeping into a pillow on Thanksgiving Day. Or grieving Christmas.
And oh how I fail Him. I want to talk about ME. How sad I am. How sorry I feel for Erik and me and the girls. How much I miss Bryce and how unfair I feel it all is.
But I fall to scripture. I fall to my past experiences with the Lord. I believe He is good, no matter how loud my screams or the voices of the enemy are that invade my thoughts. I learned my lesson in the desert. He was faithful in the desert, so I know He has to be faithful now.
In His great mercy, there’s not an instant that is more that I can bear. He is faithful in the seconds…in the moments. We keep breathing, living, functioning, and decorating Christmas trees, making hot chocolate, doing laundry, shopping for Christmas gifts. The great irony of life – when you literally survive losing a child.
It’s not a cliché – though some might hear it that way – His grace is sufficient. We keep going. Keep hoping. We continue to wait. And we learn how to fall.
Isaiah 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in Him.”