When you lose folks you care about it's hard to see anything positive. But the loss of my dear friends Chris & Leah and their sweet children Miller and Mallory has brought home two important lessons for my husband and I:
1. If you don't live near your family, make sure your local friends know how to get in touch with them. Our friends lived in AZ after having lived in TN for several years. We knew them from their days in AL. So when all this happened, people in AZ called people in TN and then people in TN called us to see if we could help remember the names of the family so they could be contacted. It was quite an ordeal. I'm sure it had never even occured to Chris and Leah to inform the folks out there of the names of their families. So we have decided to make a "who to contact" list and make sure that at least 3 friends have copies. No need to make a difficult time more stressful if we can do something to avoid it.
2. Don't wait for bad news get you back in contact with good friends. In an effort to find the family and then to spread the news, we talked to some folks we hadn't talked to in one or in some cases two years. We're grateful that we finally got to catch up, but we were sorry it took a situation like this to make it happen. Seriously, we live in the electronic age when it only takes a few moments to shoot a "hey, how ya been" email to someone. Are we really too busy for even just that?
3. Any time you talk to someone could be the last so make sure they know you care. We all know this in theory but the reality of it truly hits home when you have to look back and KNOW that the last conversation you had was all you got to say to them on this side.
4. It's different when you know them. So many times we hear these stories on the news and think, "Oh, how tragic" and then go about our business without another thought. But this time wasn't like that. We read the stories online and even watched video clips of the tv coverage. It's gut-wrenching when you had real-life experiences with the victims. We were in small group with this couple. We went to see them in the hospital after the birth of both their children. We helped them move twice. We went out to eat with them and played with their kids. We went to church and concerts with them. And now they're hanging out with Jesus, and we miss them.
It's true that "All things work together for the good of those who love Him" (Romans 8:28a) and I have to cling to that with blind faith in times like these when it's very tempting to believe that the Lord, who never slumbers or sleeps, may have blinked.