Friday, April 16, 2010

A Reed Family Update...of sorts

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My dear,

Saturday marked four weeks since you were last with us. Much of the time it still doesn’t seem real. It seems like just yesterday you were sitting here with me, having coffee, talking about our day, processing your trip, catching up with each other. It seems like just yesterday you were making your regular Friday pizza. It seems like just yesterday I was washing your clothes, cutting your hair. Is it all really over? Never again?

The house is so quiet. No loud singing coming from the shower…no “Hey Renit” coming from various rooms in the house…no exclamations of “jes drippin’” throughout the day as you sweat. Mornings are the worst as Hannah, Noah and I are all exhausted and don’t have much to say. You always helped us wake up in the morning, making the kids breakfast, singing your wacky songs.

The kids started back at school on Monday. They are emotionally drained and trying to catch up from two weeks of missed classes, which isn’t easy. [And I know you'll appreciate this, to top it off, it’s 96 F with a heat index of 108 F and the air conditioning isn’t working at the school.] The three of us have pulled close together which has been great – I only hope it lasts. We are doing a grief journal each night, which helps the dialogue a bit, but they so need you here now to help them process this. Noah is trying to be strong – his finished his meds for staph and so we are now just waiting to see if any new spots appear. Hannah is also trying to be brave but is getting angry at the “elephant in the room” that is so real to them but that most other people don’t notice. She turns 17 next Sunday - it's hard to believe our little girl will be seventeen. It's even harder to believe that you won't be here to celebrate it...or her 18th birthday...highschool or college

There are so many “I wishes” that I go through each day. I wish you could have heard the testimonies given on the impact that you had on peoples’ lives at the memorial service, in person, by email, cards, letters, comments on the blog. Do you know that a blog reader from Australia sent you flowers? That notes of condolence were received from over 20 countries? Did you hear your brother, Don, and your Uncle Lloyd say how proud they are of you?

I wish I had known how close the end was – I would have looked in your sweet brown eyes and told you I love you and helped you leave this world, instead of helping the nurse try to make you more comfortable. Did you feel alone in that moment?

I wish I knew for sure what you were experiencing right now…after all the conversations that we have had about dying. But then we wouldn’t call it faith, right?

I wish we had bought an air conditioner for you so your last few days would have been more comfortable.

I wish you had a chance to make that dish that you were so excited about when you came home from Nigeria – Bobotie - we still have all the ingredients in the house but I just can’t bring myself to make it without you here to eat it.

I wish…I wish…I wish...

I can’t put anything of yours away yet. I know I’m choosing to remain in denial but I just can’t do it. Your shoes are still by the door, waiting for you [of course, I put them by the door from where they had been kicked off in the middle of the room, but I digressJ].

Remember how many times you said to me about various things you do, “You’re going to miss that when I’m gone.” You are so right. What I would give to have one more day…one more hour with you. To think that I won’t have that chance on this earth is unbearable right now.

I love you.


ps - I have to admit that the camera has gathered some dust. I haven't been in the mood to take pictures, even though I've heard your voice telling me to; but I did find this great video clip of you and Noah...[Subtitles: You don't know what it's like; you don't know what it's like; to love somebody, to love somebody, the way I love you. (Lyrics from the Bee Gees)]


Chuck M said...

We're Praying for you 3!!

Anonymous said...


I want to share with you something awesome that happened after my father's death. It might help you sort of understand what Bob is experiencing right now.

My father died in March 2005 at the age of 90. Though he had a good long life, he wasn't always a good Christian. That was a worry of mine during the week he spent in Hospice, but he was in a coma so I could not witness to him. Since he was Catholic, he received the "Last Rites" before his transfer to Hospice, and he was aware during those "rites", and voiced being sorry for his sins.

My 2 youngest sisters stayed with him the night he died while the rest of us went home. About 3 a.m. we got the call to come to the Hospice unit, that he had passed on. The older of the 2 sisters who had stayed said that dad had been in a full coma, dying....when he suddenly sat up in bed and looked at "something" beyond the ceiling, smiled a huge smile, and fell back down in the bed and died. I'm quite sure I know who he was smiling at....

We all arrived and were sitting around his bed, taking it all in. The Hospice unit had been nestled down in a quiet neighborhood in Kentwood, far away from the railroads or the highway. We had been there one full week with the windows wide open and had never heard a train whistle. Yet....not 20 minutes after my father died, we all heard a very loud train whistle and the sound of a train on the tracks. None of the nurses or workers had heard it, only our family. My dad and his dad had both worked for the old Pere Marquette Railway, and my father loved trains his entire life.

One of my siblings said, "that's dad's signal, telling us he made it safely to the other side." We all felt such peace after that, and at the time I note, the windows were closed because it was a cold, dreary day, yet we still heard it loud and clear.

A few days later, I came out from my office job to go home and saw a funny sight in the sky. My dad used to draw comic pictures on our lunchbags when we were kids. In the sky when I came out to go home, were jet trails of a form that looked like Scooby Doo's head/face. I looked at the sky and chuckled, and thought, "Dad is drawing his cartoons on the sky." Many such things like that happened in the weeks after his death.

I know that my father and Bob are friends in Heaven and I can barely wait to get there myself.

Sorry this was so long.

Marti B.
Madison Square

Jodi Flier said...

To our dear friends in Christ,

You are very special to Todd and I. We will continue to keep you in our prayers during these difficult and lonely times.

Loneliness is defined as being without company or a sadness that comes from being alone. You are missing your husband, friend, partner, love, father - words cannot express the kind of grief you are experiencing. I'm sorry you have to endure such hardship ("heart"ship).

As pastor Dave closes with:
May the Lord bless and keep you; May he cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; May he turn his face toward you and give you peace!!

What a precious memory to have in the blessings of videos!!!

Thank you for sharing your letter to Bob. Reminds me to live lightly, laugh often and love much.

With love from Todd and Jodi Flier

Anonymous said...

Hi Mrs. Reed,

I know you don't know me, but I was moved by your story and therefore decided to write. I live in the United States now, but I am a native of Liberia. I want to say I am very sorry for your lose. It is unimaginable losing a love one, but God always shows up to console us. You have a great testimony and a ministry that God has called you to. I pray that God will give you the strength to carry on. Your children are witnesses to the life you and your husband lived and now you continue to live. Someday they will follow your footsteps. It is my prayer that you will take comfort in that. Thank you for leaving the comfort of America to answer the call of Christ to minister to people who may never understand why you do what you do. Thank you for the sacrifices you and your family have made and continue to make. Be strong in the Lord always. Finally I want to let you know that it is ok to is ok to morn...Keep your heads up. I love you all and keep up the great work you are doning in Ghana and keep the Reeds in the wind.

Robert Saydee

Kristy M. said...

Hugs to you all...I wanted to share some lyrics that I find comforting when life is painful...the song is "Held" by Natalie Grant.

"This is what it means to be held-
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was...when everything fell
We'd be held
We'd be held"

When my father died, I was eight...with two younger siblings. We (mom, and sisters) are still very close. I pray that for you three as well - that this huge loss causes you to hold tight to each other and to your Creator. Keep talking to each other, and working thru the grief, as brutal as that may be at times. It is certainly *easier* to wall it off - but the best road is not always the easiest know that already.

Bonny Mulder-Behnia said...

Dear Renita, Hannah & Noah,
I just read all the way through your entries since Bob's passing, and am crying for/with you. I'm so sorry for the grief and loneliness you are feeling -- I can only imagine. I will always remember Bob as someone who fiercely loved his wife and children. As someone with firm values and unshakeable goals. As someone whom God appointed to make a difference in this world, with the partnership of his family. I thank God for Bob, for what I saw him and you do in the Madison neighborhood. I also remember times he and you walked with me during my valley in such a no-nonsense way. I can hardly believe he is gone, and feel so sad with you.
May God surround you with His love and warm memories of Bob as you take next steps in life's often difficult journey. I preached a sermon last week about comfort, and my favorite definition of that came from Andrew Kuyvenhoven who calls it "survival power." May God strengthen you with survival power that comes from knowing that you are not your own but belong -- body and soul, in life and in death -- to your faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
I love you all very much,
Bonny Mulder-Behnia

Elizabeth Jansen van Vuuren said...

I'm sure this is a very hard time, now. Please know you continue to be in our prayers.