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A walk along the river's edge...

A mother sat on the side of the road next to a large tree.  A small memorial of flowers and candles sat next to her.  It was 2:15 in the afternoon.  24 hours ago her son was killed in a car accident as 3 boys were making a quick run to get a Slurpee before Cross Country practice began.  In an instant she was thrown into the raging river of tragedy.  "Where would Peace be found in these waters?" was the question I asked myself that night one week ago. 

This young man was a friend of my two youngest daughters and their peers.  His parents had come here to build a better life -  a good life -  for their children.  They would work hard and sacrifice so that their children would get a good education, go on to college, and raise families of their own here in a place that they would know as home.  As a mother myself, I have spent much of the last week in empathy overload, and yet no matter the heartache I felt as I contemplated myself in any similar type of situation, I knew I was not feeling anything near the depth of her pain.  I could not place myself there.  I had experienced the loss of my father and an older brother -  walked beside my mother as she made the journey through grief.  But, that was distinctly different, they had lived full lives, many more years than this boy, and most importantly they were not my child.  No, I could not know her pain.

I attempted many times over the past week to post something but I was without words.  I knew that peace could be found in all of this but I wasn't sure what it would look like. Then quietly it began to appear.  The countless face book posts of love and support were a mirror with the reflection of Peace. For my own children it came through their friends.  It was inspiring to watch these High School kids come together, lift one another, mourn with the family, and face the challenge of continuing to move forward through their homecoming week, and cross country district finals only a few days away.  For some it would appear in the form of making a difference by selling T-shirts at the homecoming game to raise money for the funeral expenses.  For others it would be wearing those same T-shirts in a show of solidarity and love and honor. And for me, it would come through a simple call to service. 

It was a text message on Wednesday.  A dear friend of mine who was very close to the family of this young man was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of feeding the mass of mourners who were expected at the funeral which was set for Friday.  I did not know it that day, but through that simple text the hand of Peace had been extended...  I made two phone calls - both to good friends - women who also felt helpless to do anything that would make a difference. The emails went out within the hour.  I texted my friend back.  Don't worry about the food again.  It is taken care of.  It will be there.  Food - comfort food.  It was a call to arms for mothers within our community. 

As the appointed hour for delivery arrived, 3pm at our homes, we became a little nervous.  Would the emails be answered? We had simply given an opportunity for service, with a date and time for delivery.  Each dish of their choosing was to feed ten people.  It was as simple as that.  Now, at 2:45, and with very few deliveries yet to be had, I was doubting.  We had food, but not enough to feed the hundreds that were anticipated.  When Veronica and I walked up to Jill's door to add her deliveries to ours she opened the door with a smile.  "They came...I should have never doubted...everyone just wanted their dish to be delivered warm."  Her kitchen and dining room was full of food.  Two women pulled up as we were loading with their casseroles warm and inviting to share. A mother who had lost her own 35 year old son just one month prior had a visit with Peace as she delivered her platters of food.

When we arrived at the church we found that many people had sent food with their kids who would be attending, and even local restaurants answered the call for comfort through food by donating dishes.  It was unbelievable the amount of food we took from our cars that day.  Each item purchased and/or prepared with love.  It was an opportunity to reach out to this family, who they did not know well enough to approach personally, and give them the equivalent of a community group hug through a meal.

I tried to find my daughters seated somewhere in the chapel, but there was standing room only and  people 30 to 40 deep outside the doors.  As I pulled out of the parking lot I could see the ground waiting that had been prepared in the small cemetery next to the church.  The sky had turned dark and a cold October rain had begun to fall on my windshield.  My heart was suddenly heavy.  My thoughts once again turned to this young man's family - a father, mother, and two teenage siblings. If life is like a river you walk beside and tragedy the turbulent rapids, surely it had taken every ounce of strength his family had to pull themselves out of the raging waters long enough to walk along its rocky edge today.  I had been foolish to think this meal would somehow carry Peace to them on this day.

7:15 p.m. the phone call came.  "Brenda, it was beautiful!  The plan had been for the family to leave immediately following the service, they were sure they couldn't handle anymore...and then they saw the food.  There was so much.  It was beautiful.  They tell us there was over 1000 people who came.  There was healing in that food - conversation - and love!  Thank you! Thank you!...I will call you tomorrow..." 

Food.  Comfort Food. Yes, I am sure it had taken every ounce of strength they had to walk along the river's edge that day - the temptation to let the waters carry them away- and under- would have seemed inviting.  In the coming days they will have to make the decision again to walk along the river rather than be carried away by it.  It will not be easy this decision to navigate through the grief and forward.  Forward...moving forward.  Hmmm...that was my goal this month.  Peace...it will be there at the river's edge.  Friday it was found in a hot dish.




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