“When I feel like I’ll never be able to pick up all of the broken pieces of my heart, it’s the other broken-hearted souls in my life who help me. The ones who are busy picking up their own broken pieces. What a beautiful thing that is – the love and empathy sent out into the world from hearts that are not even whole themselves.” –Author Unknown
I experienced the truth of these words when I received a letter from John Garrett, a man who became a friend to Larry during his first year of graduate school. As newlyweds during Larry’s second year, we were welcomed by John and his wife Sharon, along with others, into their church where we immediately became part of a wonderful family.
People from across the decades of our life sent me many kind, heartfelt, memory triggering, tear producing, touching notes following Larry’s homegoing. But the letter from John that arrived on July 13th, Larry’s first birthday with Jesus, was particularly meaningful. John, as a widower, knew what it was like to pick up the broken pieces of his heart. I read the letter and handed it to Jeanie Stirling, who had come from California to spend some time with me. Her first words after reading it were: “He gets it. This needs to be shared.”
The seed for this blog post was planted. John’s letter, shared here with his permission, is the introduction to “Rachael’s Ramblings” for the Larger Story. But to add even more weight to the strength of John’s letter, here’s a little more of the story: After reading the letter and talking with Jeanie, I felt a strong prompting to call John and tell him how much his letter had meant to us. That call with the three of us was forty minutes of laughter, tears, stories, more laughter, and more tears. And another seed was planted – chat dates with John every few months. Jeanie (in California), John (in Illinois), and I (in North Carolina) have been encouraged, blessed, and motivated to keep picking up the pieces of our hearts, discovering joy in the process.
Perhaps reading John’s letter [below] will give you more insight into what Jeanie and I, along with many others, have experienced with such a profound loss. We’re hoping that this blog prompts you into action to live in the Larger Story that’s playing out all around us. How might you make God look good by reaching out to someone who needs to be seen? Until next time!
You and your family have been on my mind a lot lately, and, since it’s near Larry’s birthday, I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you. All of these “first” times without Larry by your side have to be very difficult for you. I know they were for me. I just wanted to run and hide, to just be alone when birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays came around. It seemed like I was living in a black and white world, with no color, for so long.
I can pretty much imagine how difficult this new era of your life’s journey must be for you. I know how hard it is to find yourself “alone” when it seems you’ve lived all your life being “half of ONE.” It’s difficult to even want to go to bed when the one who was always beside you is not there anymore. (Hugging a pillow is just not the same.)
Who do you say the everyday words of life to, like: “Hey honey, come look at this…Hi dear, how did your day go…Wow, you are so gorgeous (so handsome)…Honey, I have to run to the store, want to come with?…Hon, can you help me with this?…Wow, you wouldn’t believe what happened to me today…Babe, I’ve had a rough day, I really need a hug…Honey, I’m so proud of you…” and the list could go on and on.
Who do you sing to? Who do you say “I love you” to? Who do you say “I’m so glad I married you” to? Who do you hug and hold close and share all your hopes and dreams and problems with? Who do you laugh with? Who do you share a lifetime of personal memories with? Who do you just hold hands with or share a kiss with?
I know that our Lord is always with us and never leaves us nor forsakes us, and we do find our peace and rest in Him. But He also said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” He knows that we were also made for “flesh and blood” relationships as well. I have every confidence that you are well and strong in your faith and love for the Lord, but the journey does seem a little harder without our life-mate beside us. Please know that you are continually in my prayers. And know that I sure miss my friend.
I did watch both memorial services and was so impressed and thrilled in seeing Larry’s life story shared in such a meaningful way. The Lord certainly gave the two of you a marvelous ministry together. You have impacted people’s lives all over this world, including mine. May God continue to bless you and use you for his glory in your ongoing ministry.
My love to all the family.
Trusting and resting in Him,