March 28, 2008, at my brother-in-law’s memorial service, was the last place I saw my college-aged son, Kyle, alive. He headed back down to college because it was the last day of spring break. Kyle texted one of his best friends to say how bad his heart hurt after losing his uncle and they went to get some drugs.
Combined with a beer at the bar later that evening, it was a lethal combination.
The next morning, I received a call from my older son Matt, wailing, “Kyle died last night.” My knees buckled as I almost hit the floor.
In that moment, I had a realization that I’d never:
get another hug from Kyle
hear, “I love you,” from him
get his head snuggled in and against me
smell his nasty old hockey bag
I couldn’t believe it, but I miss that stinky smell. I still miss that.
Both of the hockey teams Kyle played on were going to be the honor guards and his best friends, the pall bearers. His best friend from Sydney, Australia, Steven Robertson, actually flew to Shreveport, Louisiana, to be there, to be there as a pallbearer for Kyle.
In the interim, I found out that one of Kyle’s dearest friends had been with him when Kyle went to purchase drugs that, combined with one beer, caused respiratory distress and his death.
I called my son Matthew, and I said, “Matthew, I cannot, cannot have Kenny serve as a pall bearer for Kyle. Cannot.”
Matthew’s words changed my life.
I physically felt weight lift off of my shoulders and a burden be removed. I said, “Matthew, I’m going to have to pray about that,” and I did.
The next morning, I called Kenny and said, “Sweetheart, I tell you what, I’m disappointed in both of you. Y’all made a decision that was irreversible. You’ve got a heavier burden to carry than I do. It was your best friend that died. That cannot be changed. Every morning you wake up and look in the mirror, you have to face that yourself. I can’t take that away from you, but my son Kyle loved you like a brother. I will be honored if you would stand for him, Kenny. Would you do that?” and he did.
I had to decide how I was going to respond to that devastating news.
I knew that I had to give the gift of forgiveness … because in reality, God gave it to me first, so I could give it to Kenny. On my own strength, there’s no way I could have done that. In giving that forgiveness to Kenny, I also received.
That’s how we chose to walk out together.
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25 thoughts on “My Sons”
Blessings on your book launch, Susan. I know your words will touch many. May God continue to use you in a mighty way!
I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story and a touching part of your life. Thank you for the hope in forgiveness you displayed. I needed to read your words today. God bless you!
Julie, thank you. So glad Hod guides you to these words today! He is so good to us.
Thank you so much for your willingness to comfort others in their grief by sharing yours.
Blessings to you and yours as you Dance with Jesus and help others to do the same.
Thank you Heather. I pray my words make a difference.
Susan, you are an amazing woman with an incredible spirit. I’m glad I’ve gotten to know you throughout the years. Congrats on your book! Thank you for sharing your story with the world!
God bless you Delann! How fun it is to see you here~Thank you!
Susan, even though, I have not had your experience, I felt your pain in your words. Every mother dreads such a moment. Thank you for sharing your story and how you resolved to respond to it. I am your neighbor at Holley’s linkup.
Thank you Gina. Your words bless and encourage me ~ I absolutely LOVE your writing. Thank you for sharing what God gives you to inspire so many.
I just lost my husband of 40 years. I am so angry at God. I am trying so hard to forgive, but this is so hard. I do find myself thanking God for the loss of my temp jobs so that we spent the last couple of years together – just watching TV, eating lunch together, and just being a couple. I am blessed with a supportive family. My prayers are with you. The loss of a son is just unreal. My husband had lived his life with lots of illnesses, but to loss a healthy son. You will have to forgive just like I will. My prayers will be with you every day. I will put your name on a sticky note to remind me. I also will get a copy of your book. It sounds awesome. Thank you.
Bless you Angie. I can’t begin to imagine your loss and pain. Hugs.
I don’t know if you remember me from high school. I think I was closer in age to your sister. She was a senior when I was a junior. When I saw this on my FB feed, I had to read more. I’m so glad I did! Thank you for being so willing to share your sweet testimony. I look forward to reading your book. God is so amazing, and how He has helped you through is another witness to His amazing love for us. God bless you and you share God’s love. He will bring healing to many with His ministry through you.
Awww Cindy, thank you. How that blesses me to hear your thoughtful encouragement.
I also know the pain of having your children move to Heaven before you. My 18 year old son and 16 year old daughter left this earth on December 25, 1997. Ryann, my daughter had received a new car for Christmas and Richard, my son wanted the both of them to be the first to drive it. They never came home that Christmas morning and my husband and I were devastated. God has shown us so much in the years since that day and we thank Him continually for the peace and grace that has been poured out upon our lives because we would never have survived any other way. I have often thought of writing about our experience but just never had the courage to undertake it because I did not want to relieve all that pain. Thank you for being courageous enough to write about such a hard subject.
I cannot begin to fathom your loss. Hugs from my heart to yours. Yes God does show up – do share your story. Folks need to hear others who have made it through the toughest days to know they CAN too.
Wow…I will certainly read this story. Thank you for sharing this today Susan…this is a hard story to tell, but one we need to hear and pass on. Cheering you on in your book launch… #RaRaLinkup
Thank you Angela.
Looking forward to reading your book, I’m just deciding if I should get the kindle or print version. I lost my dad, a wonderful, humble Christian man October 2014. Thanks and God Bless your ministry.
Oh I still have my dad-he’s almost 90 and still going strong. Can’t imagine… Hugs from my heart
Bless you Susan. Unforgiveness hurts only us. Until we do forgive, we’ll never be free. Thanks for sharing your heart. I’m sure your testimony will minister to many.
Thanks Debbie. The forgiveness allows me to get outta bed each day. And breathe. Thank God He is good to us
On July 1 2005 I lost my 22 yr old son in almost the exact way. I know your pain. I know it takes a long time to ever get to the point that life seems “normal” again. I’m glad you found “normal” with Gods grace to share your story and His words with others. God Bless You!
Ann, God bless you. Not supposed to happen this way. Yet it does. I pray you know exactly where he is-in the gracious arms of God
Thank you for your story. My son Rick moved to Heaven on April 13, 2013 after struggling with diabetes for years. It was Palm Sunday and 2 days before his 25th birthday. I, too, went through the emotional turmoil of missing his hugs, not being able to say or hear “I love you” or being able to see grandbabies that would constantly remind me of him. Even in the midst of my hurt and grief, I knew that God doesn’t make mistakes, so in between fits of crying and feeling like I had a big hole in my heart that would not heal, I would praise God for His great mercy for receiving my beloved son into His loving arms. God allowed me to write a book “Joy through brokenness” because I truly believe that in the midst of my brokenness, I had joy in trusting that God is in control, and that because of Jesus’ finished work at Calvary, I will see Rick again!
Amen! You will see Rick again. There’s the joy!
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