If y’all have been following along with my blogs as of recently, you know that I have dedicated the month of February to grieving the loss of loved ones. I have had about a month and a half to find the right words to say, but as I sit here typing this, I am still at a complete loss for words. I usually don’t talk about this kind of stuff because I hate being sad, I hate others feeling sorry for me, and I hate making others feel awkward. However, I am fully confident that this is just what I need to be able to more fully grieve. So, this post is going to be emotional, vulnerable, and probably full of typos – y’all have been warned.
A year ago today, I received the most gut-wrenching, anxiety-provoking, and overall scary news – my beloved uncle Chad had been in an accident. My parents were out of town and called my brother and I to tell us the news. While with friends, my uncle fell down a flight of stairs and sustained a critical head injury. My brother and I rushed to the hospital to be at his side, as well as, to be with our grandparent’s and my uncle’s best friend. My parents switched their flight to be there for my uncle in his time of need. Soon, the hospital was full of family and friends there to support Chaddy.
Y’all, I’m not gonna lie when I say this was the most stressful and emotional almost-24 hours of my life. It was extremely difficult to listen to the doctors and nurses say that my uncle was not going to live. It was extremely difficult to look at the man that I once had looked up to for everything lying in a bed with machines breathing for him. A man that once looked so big seemed so very small now. Most of all, it was extremely difficult to hide my emotions and be strong.
Don’t get me wrong, I was terrified, anxious, and heart broken, but so was everyone else. In my mind, I had no right to fall apart, to be the one that someone else had to be strong for. Y’all probably think I’m dumb for thinking this because he was my uncle; however, being surrounded by his wife, his children, his parents, his sister, and his best friends (whom have known him for longer than I have been alive), the label uncle seemed so unimportant. I wanted to be strong for everyone else whose hearts were breaking. So, I fought back tears as I gave others hugs and words of encouragement, I sat in meetings with doctor’s who told us he wasn’t going to make it, and I prayed, a lot.
Even with lots of prayer and, quite honestly, begging to God, my uncle lost all brain activity with 24 hours of the fall. At the age of 46, my uncle Chad was gone. Although this was and still is tragic, there are three silverlinings that I cling to.
First, my uncle was an organ donor. Through his selfless choice here on earth, he was able to save the lives of four individuals. He gave his heart to a 58-year-old man, his lungs to a 62-year-old man, and his liver and one of his kidneys to a 54-year-old woman. Chad gave his other kidney to a 68-year-old woman who had been waiting for a second-chance at life for 1,471 days. This woman has three children, thirteen grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
As easy as it is to question God, blame Him for this tragedy, and think about the what-ifs, it doesn’t change anything that happened. It doesn’t bring my uncle back. Instead of viewing this as a tragedy, I view it as a blessing. Because of my uncle, four people got a second-chance at life, a fresh start. Because of my uncle, four families got to spend more time with their loved ones. Although I miss my uncle terribly each and every day, I know his legacy lives on in each of those individuals and in the hearts of every person who loved him. My uncle was and continues to be a hero, and there is nothing tragic about that.
Second, with my uncle’s passing, my family grew closer to each other and to God. Without going into any details, my family had been struggling to be a family for some time. In fact, when my uncle died, I had not seen him for at least 8 months. Sometimes, I beat myself up about this because there are a lot of things I regret – like never sharing a glass of whiskey with him or that I never told him how grateful I am for him. Again, focusing on these regrets doesn’t get me anywhere or bring him back. Although my uncle is gone, my family is a family again which makes my heart swell. We may be missing a big chunk of our hearts, but we have each other to lean on, which makes all the difference.
My family has also gone back to church, and I see such a change in them. Their hearts have been changed in so many miraculous ways. My parent’s have really leaned into the Word and have found strength in Jesus again. I know that this is exactly what my uncle would want. My uncle found great joy in the Lord, and He proclaimed that joy to everyone he met. His favorite verse was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understand, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”. Leave it to Chaddy to leave us with a perfect verse to cling to in our time of need.
Last, but certainly not least, and definitely the most important – my uncle was saved. He had invited Jesus into his heart and accepted Him as his personal savior. When my uncle passed away, I know without a doubt that he also passed through the Heavenly gates and met Jesus face to face. What a blessing to have and hold onto – one day I will see my uncle again. Until then, I will keep trusting in the Lord, in His plan, and in His goodness.
Because God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.
"Lord, help me to be more like you and less like me." - Chad