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.
In that moment, he said, “Oh Momma, God has already forgiven Kenny. You need to too.
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 who 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.
The reality is an event doesn’t change you, but how you respond to it does.
I had to decide how I was going to respond to that devastating news.
I couldn’t change it, but I could choose how I stepped out of it.
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.
We both moved from broken, absolute broken, to blessed, forgiven & free.
That’s how we chose to walk out together.
THANK YOU ~ Dance With Jesus: From Grief to Grace is an AMAZON #1 HOT NEW Release in Christian Grief
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36 thoughts on “My Sons”
I remember well when forgiveness flooded my heart toward my Dad. Years of struggle dropped around, crashing to rise again with a renewed heart. Taking care of my Dad who was abusive to me and rest of family for four years was the best teacher I could ever have. Out of a mind that only remembered a Dad calling a daughter pitiful sprang a love in the knowledge that God called me beloved. The act of forgiveness followed with action on my part brought a rest in my soul that there was something powerful about forgiveness. It allow these hands to take care of my 58 year old father who could not take care of himself in most areas. God loved me, God would never call me anything but beloved even when I failed Him and my earthly needed to know my Savior and what better way then to put action to my belief. Great post, will have to get your book. Always on the lookout for books on that help others find that beautiful tool of forgiveness. It’s one of the best tools in our spiritual toolbox, has many uses, works every time, never fails.
God called me beloved!!! How beautiful, Betty. Thank you for your words. Such a beautiful place you have reached.
Love this! Thank you for sharing so authentically your journey through the loss of your son. It really hit me when you said, “The reality is an event doesn’t change you, but how you respond to it does.” So true. We each have a choice of how we respond to the events in our lives. As your testimony portrays, it’s not always an easy choice, but a choice that brings healing and peace. Blessings to you!
Thank you Lisa! I love receiving your blessings. And hearing how my story resonates with you certainly blesses me. So thank you. Susan
Susan, so glad you picked up the pen to record all that God is doing and teaching you in the wake of such hard. I’m also walking the road of grief (with my 7 kiddos) after my husband’s sudden death. Many blessings to you! Visiting from #livefreeThursdays.
Oh Lisa my heart breaks with yours. May God continue to hold you and your children in the palm of His comforting hand. Hugs. Susan
Susan, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m so sorry for the things that you miss every day. I’m so grateful that you’ve allowed God to take that very hard place and allow you to walk with others through grief. And dancing with Jesus? What an image of what we can have in the hardest places. I know it doesn’t make sense in the natural, but thank God for showing us the supernatural.
Suzie, your words are so encouraging. Yes, God has taken that hard place. And made it beautiful. Reverent. Blessed. He’s good to us, His kiddos!
Thank YOU for your ministry of healing. That blesses soooooooo many and I thank you. Hugs. Susan
Susan, Thank you for your transparency, and this awesome testimony of forgiveness, mercy and how the reflection of God’s gracious love challenges, and then ultimately heals. God bless you! xoxo Letetia
Thank you Letetia. God has shined His abundant grace on me. And so many others–isn’t it wonderful that He loves us???
Oh Susan, my heart is just pierced and the tears are flowing. Such a loving portrait of what our God can do. I don’t think there is any greater earthly pain for a mother than to loose a child, but even this God can paint into a testimony.
So blessed by your words and so honored you have shared them with us at Sweet To The Soul #SoulFriends.
I look forward to reading and being inspired by your book.
Jana, thank you-yes God is so gracious!
Thank you for this inspirational message “Events don’t change us but how we choose to respond does”.
God Bless and encourage you.
Ifeoma, bless you! We do get to choose, thank God! And it’s so beautiful when He shows up and shows off.
Bawling my eyes out. I can’t wait to have the money to order your book dear friend! Thank you for this beautiful ministry!
Oh Marisa, your words bless me. Hugs! (You will laugh thru the tears with the book!)
You are such an inspiration Susan and a wonderful example of what it looks like to act with the love of God and His strength empowering you. Thank you for sharing this part of your story today and teaching what forgiveness means 🙂 #DanceWithJesus
Sarah, thank you. He forgave me first. How dare I not share that blessing?! He is sooooo good to us. Hugs
My Dear Friend Susan,sister in Christ
Our God has a place in his heart for you and your family.
God is a forgiving god!
and a loving God he loves you and I do too.
One day you will understand Why!
God bless you!!
My sister in Christ
Oh Connie, thank you. We can already SEE how different we are and what Kyle’s purpose was looking back 7 years later. That’s a beautiful word you left me. Thank you!
The more I read and hear from you, Susan, the closer I feel to you. You are so so strong and amazing…While I hate that you had to endure what you did, but He knew He could trust you with this story (First to live it and then to write it). I love you dear Sister!
Oh Yolanda I can’t wait to hug your neck! Love you too. This IS commUNITY. Hugs. Susan
Congratulations on your book release! I can only imagine how God is using your voice to give others comfort and understanding! Well done Susan:)
Thanks Meg! We hit #1 on Amazon Hot New Release Christian Grief. Thank you!!!
I feel the strength in your words and the courage it took to forgive Kenny. You sound like a fierce protector of your sons just like me. I ask myself if I could have done the same. However, I also hear God speaking throughout and I know that you were able to forgive because of God. I love this and I love you for sharing your remarkable story. Easter Blessings!
Mary, but GOD. In my own strength and way, I’d still be stuck in total chaos. Thank God, He is good!
Susan, I honestly don’t know what to say today. My mama heart is saddened that you had to walk through the death of a child. How difficult that must be. But I’m thankful you walked the walk with Jesus. Oh, the story of forgiveness you share….wow. I pray these words of yours will be placed in every set of hands that needs hope in the midst of grief, in hands that have delayed or refused forgiveness. The Lord is faithful.
Kristi, thank you. I too pray my words will be placed in every set of hands that needs hope in the midst of grief, in hands that have delayed or refused forgiveness. Beautiful prayer. Thank you
Oh Susan, my heart breaks for you. I admire you so much! You are so strong and beautiful inside and out! Love, hugs, and infinite blessings to you, Love! 🙂
Tai, girl your gonna make my cry – love you!!!
Oh sweet friend what a beautiful demonstration of Jesus love. You are right, not in our own abilities can we love those we deed unlovable. Even as I was reading, I was thinking, “Mmm Hmm, no he will not be the pallbearer.” That was my initial fleshly reaction. Just that quickly I was convicted. I salute you for choosing Jesus. Continue to dance in the freedom that forgiveness brings.
Continue to dance in the freedom forgiveness brings…YES Tyra. Thank you. So blessed by your powerful words. Happy Easter!
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