Going through tragedy is strange. Especially when you’re new at it.
On Thursday when I got to the scene my whole family was there already. They were standing and sitting in small clusters. Puffy-eyed vulnerability like I’ve never known.
They didn’t let us park close to the scene so Ashley and I had to walk a distance before we reached everyone. Again I had a strange sense of nervousness. What am I supposed to do? was all I could think.
But Aunt Veta set the tone when she saw me. Through sobs came the glorious truth that would be our foundation for the next few days: “God is good! God is good! I don’t know why he took my Tyson, but I can’t deny Him now. God is good!”
And as I made my rounds to the other cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends I cried some more. Each person a new partner to grieve with.
The grief then seemed to come in waves. For a moment, calmness. Then a swell of emotion. A grandparent would break down and three or four would gather around. The wave would crash tears all over again. And then peace. Until the next wave.
Friday everyone came over to my parents’ house. My brother arrived from Portland. Drew came in from Boston. Someone said, “It’s just like Tyson to bring to whole family together,” and that’s just what he did. For the next couple days we all stayed together and grieved, hugged, cried, remembered, laughed, and prayed. When one of us broke down, there we were to support. And it was then that I realized that grieving is a lot more about being than doing.
We just need to be together. Nothing more. For two whole days we did nothing but be.
Tyson brought our family together closer than ever– one of the many goods I’m sure will come of his death. For the first time in my life, there was a death in the family. And the objective reality of things is both stone solid and icy cold water. Life is short. Death happens. Heaven is real. Hell is real. How you live your life matters, and there are countless ways to waste it. Certain things are objectively more significant than others. Certain things matter; other things don’t.
The cold splash of reality reminded me to give my life to the things that matter most. And what matters most isn’t something I decide in my head. What matters most has already been decided for us: the glory of Jesus Christ.
Give your life to this cause and you will not waste your life.
Manufacture your own purpose for existence, and in the end you will have nothing.
As Uncle Tim and others said at the funeral, “Make peace with God.” And the only way to do it is by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation from your sins.
For the first part in this tribute to Tyson: