August 18th, forty days have passed. Forty days since that sinister crack of wood boomed through my consciousness, stole two incredibly precious lives, and left me underneath a gritty, heavy, frightening darkness, wondering how I was still alive.
Forty days is the period we set aside for mourning in Ukraine after death. Just as Israel was forty years in the wilderness, Jesus forty days in a desert, forty is a unit of time by which we understand some sort of completion to this chapter of trial in our lives. And then, at forty days, still hurting and remembering, we stand again at the grave of our lost one, and then do our best to move on.
Today, on the fortieth day, I’m trying. Honestly, I’m not sure what that means, I am not sure what it is that I should do. The memories are still so present and oftentimes vivid; the tears are still so frequent and uncontrollable. As I write, rain is steadily falling from the sky, clouds almost completely blanket the sun. In some ways, I wish this dreary weather would stay for weeks. I’m not ready to move on.
Nothing that happened that day was okay. It was not reasonable; it was not fair. This was a terrible, shivering reminder that this decaying world we live in is under a curse. How did this wonderful man, who was giving himself in the service of God, working so diligently with whatever task he was given, happen to walk into the room the moment of the collapse? Why of all lives, why was it Illya whose life was cut so short? He was one of the most wonderful, loving, pure hearted people I have ever known.
Why was I spared?
Tomorrow, the weather will get better. Shannon, Jesse, Jeremiah and Shannon’s parents Bob and Betty are coming for a visit. I cherish their visits. I love watching Jesse tear through the grassy yard, jumping, kicking, laughing and making sure that Daddy is watching. I can not believe how happy and large Jeremiah is, as he plays with his favorite toy on visits, my crutches. Shannon is always next to me, holding me, comforting me; her touch has been more soothing than any opiate pushed through my veins. My family more than anything is helping me heal, feel joy, and with little bits of hope look to the future.
As much as I physically still feel like a dinosaur, I have come so far. Just weeks ago I could scarcely move my legs, turn to my side, breathe without constraint, or have the courage to look at my almost alien leg. Originally, we were told it would be six months before I was on my feet. But God has been merciful to me, to my body. Forty days later and I have been on crutches already for a week. Pain is subsiding, numbness in my left hand is diminishing; two muscles in my right hand, even if ever so slightly, are responding to signals from my brain.
I am healing. I am doing better. And although I still feel so emotionally and physically broken, nothing consoles me more than the mercy I received to continue being husband and father, son and brother, friend, and soon, I pray, again pastor and missionary.
I want to thank you, all of you, for everything you’ve done for us. It has been your support and prayers and encouragement that has upheld us, especially in those first days, and that continues to sustain us as we push ahead and keep fighting. Your prayers have been truly heard; I have every confidence in that. Please continue to pray that what Satan intended for evil, our Heavenly Father will make good.