"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Touched by Laughter

We always wonder: Does it get easier? Seems like that is one of the questions so often asked when one loses a loved one.

It has been 4 years ago today, that we lost our beloved Isaac. He was 14 years old. He was the youngest of my brother and sister-in-law's three boys. Matt - my son; Isaac’s cousin - was 13 at the time. I tend to go into contemplation mode about this time of year; and I know by recently speaking to Isaac’s mom (my brother’s wife - my sissie) that October is, of course, still a very difficult time for them.

Does it get easier? Well, in the sense that it is once again October 13th, some things are still the same. We are still trying to get school done, much as we were that dreadful day. The sun is shining again today, much as it was that day. But it is cooler this year, than it was on that Friday, 4 years ago. Matt is a senior instead of an 8th grader. In thinking about that question; I know it is easier, in a practical way. I know am not going to get a phone call telling me about the awful news. I am not crying out in despair and wondering how I will tell Matthew. I am not getting dressed to rush to the hospital. I won’t look at the anguish in my brother’s face and I don’t have to wonder if my sister-in-law will live. I don’t have to wonder what life will be like without Isaac. I already know all of that now. So, in that regard, yes; it gets easier. Yes; I guess we have all learned the answer to that question, these years later. But the greater - more in depth - meaning in that question is in realtity what people are actually asking. No, I would not say it gets easier. But rather than a raw, ripping emotion - what occurs, I would say, is a mature ache. That is the best way that I can describe it. It is pain that has come into maturity, much the same way we mature in anything - by simply living….but is it easier? No. I think one only learns how to live in it.

Isaac was an awesome kid. His name means laughter, and that is how we will always remember Isaac – laughing; making others laugh. One of the last of my memories of Isaac occurred on an afternoon when he came to stay with us for a week or so before school was to start in September. We were on our way to the fair, and Matt and Isaac were sitting in the back seat of my car. They were giggling only like two boys that age could…that is, only if they are family. I looked in the rear view mirror to see what was going on. “Watch!” they said. Matt had his baseball cap in his hand and he would slowly put it in front of Isaac’s face. When he removed it a second later, Isaac made a funny and unusual expression; different each time. That is, different and more funny each time the hat was removed and each time I looked in the mirror. It was enough to make us all howl in laughter.


We also went to the rodeo that week. It was late when it was over…about 10:00 pm, I would say. It was dark of course by this time, and there were rows and rows of cars. We had neglected to mark in our minds exactly where we had parked. We started off in the general direction we knew our car should be and pretty soon, Isaac exclaimed, “Follow me! I know exactly where we parked!” And he started off in the absolute, complete wrong direction. Matthew and I stopped and just looked at each other, and then burst out laughing. Isaac burst out laughing, too. I still, to this day, don’t know if he knew he was headed the wrong direction, and it was his way of making us laugh…or if he was simply going the wrong way because we were indeed lost. Either way, it was hysterical. And the laughter we shared is one of the fondest memories I hold dear.

Another precious memory about Isaac that I hold in my heart is that every once in a while when someone was taking a picture, Isaac would quietly slip into the background with a big smile on his face. He was “pulling one over” on the photographer and I would say it almost always worked. What a joy I found, when he was no longer with us, and I was seeking photos of him. I found several that I had not noticed before. But there he was in the background of a photo with a big smile on his face. I came to realize the photo was not a photo of who you thought it was at first glance. It became a photo of Isaac: sweet, funny, and endearing.

The Dad's?  Nope, Isaac!

More Daddy's on Father's Day
Uh uh....It's Isaac!

As I said earlier, just a short time before Isaac’s death, Matthew and Isaac were able to spend one of the best times of Matthew’s life when Isaac came to spend a week with us. The boys slept outside, cooked over the campfire, played air-soft, went swimming several times at 3 of our favorite local lakes, and for a solid week were able to simply be kids. We spent a day at the fair and we spent a day at Silverwood with Isaac’s brother, Levi. The two cousins laughed together, were goofy together in a manner that a teenage boy could only be with someone he was close enough to; one who just wouldn’t care or make fun of how silly he might seem. It’s the degree of comfort that is most often realized only with a close family member. It wasn’t long before my husband, my son and I came to understand that this week was God’s gift to Matthew; a very special last goodbye, though we were unaware at the time it would be so.

Isaac started high school, just one month prior to his death. He had been homeschooled up to this point, but this year he started at a private school.  He was very much enjoying it and he had gained the respect of both teachers and classmates alike. Still, I am sure there were some adjustments to make, as for the most part Isaac was a bit quiet and shy.  It was "Picture Day" at the school and Life Touch Photography, who does class photos for a lot of the area schools, came to take the students' pictures.  They were finished and already putting equipment and cameras away, when someone noticed that Isaac had neglected to have his photo taken.  Knowing Isaac as we do, it didn't surprise any of us when we heard the story. We weren't surprised that Isaac didn't say anything about being overlooked.  He was reserved and didn't like to draw attention to himself; and he for sure would never put anyone out by causing extra work.  But to this business's credit, they would not leave without having Isaac's photo taken.  They put all their equipment back up, just so they could take Isaac's picture. I so admire a company that would do something like that.  As it was, I believe that was the last photo taken of Isaac and the family was so thankful for it.  But more than that, this company when they heard about Isaac's death, offered a beautiful 8 x 10 to his mom and dad.  It is the photo directly below and they really captured the way I remember Isaac.

Isaac - 9th Grade

So we continue to learn as we live; we watch pain mature knowing its vicious bondage does not hold us. We hold onto that which we have always known is true: Isaac will live in our hearts forever; but more than that we know he lives eternally in Heaven with Jesus and we will see him again some day. Until then, we will share the comfort of memories, and love, and....laughter.
8th Grade Graduation

Below is today’s post from Matt’s Facebook page. We all have our own ways of remembering and giving honor. This is Matt’s:


In Memorium- Isaac - November 1, 1991- October 13, 2006

~ Who You'd Be Today- Kenny Chesney
Sunny days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat
I feel you everywhere I go
I see your smile, I see your face
I hear you laughing in the rain

Still can't believe you're gone
It ain't fair you died too young
Like a story that had just begun
But death tore the pages all away
Lord knows how I miss you
All the pain that I've been through
Just knowing no one could take your place
Sometimes I wonder who you'd be today
Would you see the world?
Would you chase your dreams?
Settle down with a family?
I wonder, what would you name your babies?
Some days the sky's so blue
I feel like I can talk to you
And I know it might sound crazy
It ain't fair you died too young
Like a story that had just begun
But death tore the pages all away
Lord knows how I miss you

All the pain that I've been through
Just knowing no one could take your place
Sometimes I wonder who you'd be today
Today, Today, Today
Today, Today, Today
Sunny days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat
The only thing that gives me hope
Is I know I'll see you again someday

Someday, Someday

3 comments:

  1. Jan, you describe the process of living with the pain so well, so exact. I have never been able to do that, but everything you said was true. I lost my husband on October 15, my father on October 14 and Isaac on October 13...it used to be my favorite month, but now it is a time of reflection, sadness and also hope. I imagine them all together in Heaven, doing something joyful. When we see them again what a story we will have to tell about the grief, the struggle, the lessons in faith and the triumph we all share as we gather together again. I can't wait for the grand family reunion we will all share!
    Thank you for this post, and thank God for his promise to be reunited.

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  2. God bless you, Shelley. Thank you so much for posting this. Yes, what a day it will be when everyone is together again...thank God for that hope and that we can encourage one another with that promise.

    I have thought of you so many times, since those days at the hospital in Seattle...the strength you showed. I have some memories engraved in my memory forever from that time. One is Glenda's dad peering into her room and the look of concern on his face; another is the smile and calm presence that you offered through all that adversity, and especially the strength and support that you gave to Craig during that time. I didn't know how to help and wanted to so badly; but it was so clear that you did know how and very much did offer much needed comfort. I love our family. Yes! We will have so much to talk about and share! What a joyous thought that is. Thank you for sharing this. Much love, prayers and hugs to you...

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