Remember hurricane Harvey? No, not Harvey Weinstein. I’m not even going to begin to expound upon everything that goes with that (not at this time anyhow). I’m speaking of the horrific natural disaster that deluged Houston and surrounding areas earlier this year. Since then we’ve had Jose’ and Irma and few others. We had the unthinkable tragedy that was the Las Vegas massacre and there’s always the divide over politics in general that keeps everyone’s attention. However, there are places in New Orleans that have never recovered from Katrina. Yet, the attention is diverted and the public, and people in general, move on.
When I was in school, Guatemala was the focus of the world’s charitable impact. They had undergone great flooding and land slides. People I knew went on mission trips and raised money to help those there. As an adult, I remember the tsunami in Indonesia that caught the world’s attention. The earthquake in Haiti sent thousands of people there to help in relief efforts. I often wonder if people in those tragedy stricken areas worry or lament (in their darkest moments) when something strikes elsewhere and they are no longer the pity du jour. The immediacy of their needs has passed but the recovery continues…and in some ways never ends.
When I go to a funeral I very often tell people, “If you need something…sure now, but more importantly 3, 6, or many months down the road, I’ll be here.” Everyone drops off a lasagna and cuts a check the days before and after a funeral and it is very appreciated (depending on the lasagna). But shortly thereafter, it goes away. People don’t know how or what to say and eventually choose to just move on…only very often those who have been affected don’t, or can’t.
A ways after Trey died I wrote about the next battle that we were going to face. A very dear friend commented that they hoped that we could stop battling and rest. I took it very much to heart and appreciated the sentiment. For sure there have been times of rest, respite, and relief. Truth be told though, it’s never over.
It will be three years since Trey completed his battle with cancer on November 5. People often ask me how we are doing. My answer is always, “If you are grading us comparing us to others who have gone through what we’ve gone through I’d say that we are doing great.” Rachel and I are as close as ever. Joe and Bella are straight “A” well adjusted beautiful souls who love Jesus and everyone else who comes their way. The ministries that God has blessed me with are growing. Rachel works, coaches at Crossfit, and is deeply involved in Joe and Bella’s school life. My second answer to that question is always, “However, if you are asking in general…we’re ok.” Having read my proof of why we’re doing comparatively great does make me think that we’re doing better than “ok” but there’s more to it.
It’s always there, cause he’s not here. Beyond that, 4 years of memories make up a large part of our lives. For Joe and Bella they have both said that they feel like they have lived two lives, one with and one after Trey. It’s never over. I’m always doing my best to feather in appropriate times and ways to see if they’re ok. Do they need/want to talk? Do they need more attention? What’s going on in their heads? Just because Rachel and I have come to grips with everything that happened doesn’t mean that they have. which is not to say that they haven’t either.
So with all of that I am asking you for a favor. If God so moves in your heart, would you consider writing a note to Joe and/or Bella? In that note just convey how you feel about them and what you appreciate about how they have handled their tragedy and continued to live. I feel that Joe could use some more confidence and Bella attention. Certainly you are not limited to those emotional needs. Further, it’s up to you as to whom you write the letter. I will give the letters to them around November 5th but may parcel them out so they don’t get them all at once (haven’t gotten that far yet). I feel like this will be something that will have a lasting positive impact on them as so many of your efforts have before.
If you choose to do so, thank you and please mail them to my church:
Faith Community Church
attn: Jay Mitlo
501 Jefferson Rd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15235
Believe me, I know that whatever tragedy you have experienced is not over either. Trust me as well that I will always do whatever I can to help you through yours.