Many of you have asked – how can I help?
For the first several days I wouldn’t have known how to answer that question. We genuinely needed others to make decisions and give directives on our behalf. But a few days ago as I was in bed with a fever most of the day (I already had the flu before all of this happened) I thought about this question a lot, knowing that life is not marching on as “normal” right now and trying to accept the challenge (invitation?) to be gentle to myself.
So here are a few ways I thought of that you can help our family right now:
1. Call us. We want to hear your voices. To hear you ask, “how are you?” Don’t worry about intruding – if we’re not up for it at the moment you call, we won’t answer. But sometimes even knowing you’ve called is enough. We know you probably don’t know what to say, and that’s okay too. We get it. But don’t underestimate the power of your “hello, I love you” or your “hey, just wanted to see how you’re doing”.
2. Check in on Ryan. He’s doing well, all things considering. But he’s tired and he’s carrying a lot. He’s carrying me, the children, the house, the yard, the finances, and his work and ministry and the demands of leadership. I’m trying not to be a complete dud and leave everything to him, but the reality is my emotions are all over the place and I’m not very reliable to be holding things together. (One moment I’m eating ice cream in the park and chasing the boys until we all collapse in giggles and the next moment I want to crawl into bed and stay there all day with earplugs in. See? A little unreliable at the moment.) Yes, I’m grieving, but he is as well. Care for him and go the extra mile “just because” you love him. Don’t forget that he is also in mourning and wading through his grief as the world expects him to jump back into life as normal. Send him a note or a text, buy him a coffee, give him some flowers (truly, he loves them), or offer a hug. He needs to be cared for too.
3. Help us around the house. I’m going to be really brave and get very specific here: Do my dishes, clean my spectacularly dirty floors, help me with the backed-up laundry. Honestly? I don’t want to ask for this sort of thing, but I also know that wishing for these things to take care of themselves will not get me anywhere. Of course I’ve not lost my ability to scoop detergent or hit “start” or push a broom, but finding the energy and the will is a little harder at the moment. And when I do find it, I need to channel that towards my kids. I’m sure this won’t last forever, but right now this is where I’m at and I could use a little help.
4. Hang out with the kids. The boys are amazing and fun and hilarious, but also high energy and demanding and intense. Our capacity is not running at full throttle and knowing that the boys are having a ball with friends or aunties brings much comfort to us, and also a chance to rest or enjoy the quiet or work on a project that helps bring healing. Send Ryan off kayaking or to pound nails in his workshop. Send me off with a book or my laptop or take them out of the house and let me have a nap. Maybe it sounds indulgent, but I know we both need a little more personal time than usual right now and having help with the boys is part of that.
5. Come over and be with us. Ask me her story and let me tell it all over again. Re-hash the Voice. Talk about crazy North Korea’s threat of nuclear war. Tell me about the great deal you found on your new shoes. Dissect Downton Abbey as I pour you a cup of tea. Whatever. I need good company. Don’t worry about fearing what you’ll say, we’ll figure it out together. And bring your littles. I still love kids and babies and I don’t want them swept away and hidden from me. Let me kiss their newborn noses. (Plus, they’ll help entertain mine while we talk about Lady Mary and the fate of Downton. Is it doomed??)
6. Pray for us. I know, I KNOW, this one is happening in layers and layers and layers and layers. We can feel it and sense it and sometimes almost taste it. Thank you. But here’s an idea: maybe sometimes you can write us your prayers, or call us and pray, or offer to pray for us in person if you live here in Townsville. (Ryan too. Are you praying for Ryan?? Just because he’s a leader doesn’t mean he doesn’t need prayer and ministry too.) Your prayer is powerful you know, and we need it. All of it. And while you’re praying for our hearts, can you please pray for my health too? I’ve been sick with a weird flu on and off for a month now, and it certainly didn’t pause while I was in and out of doctors and hospitals losing our baby. It’s been such a miserable week and I can’t handle being sick right now. It’s just too hard and my boys need me to be well at least physically as we slowly begin to heal in our souls. I really need (and want) God’s healing.
7. Remember us. Will you write us on your calendars and check in again in a week? A month? When the world has moved on? Sometimes I feel like I can bear the “right now” because God is so obviously with us, but I fear the future just a little bit. (Yes, I know the bible verses that address this stuff – and I certainly have an opportunity to learn/internalize them on a whole new level as we move forward – but knowing that you’ll still be there when some of the rawest emotion simmers down would bring us great comfort as well.)
8. Invite us over or out. We need sunshine and fresh air and trips to the aquarium and cozy houses filled with friends. Thanks for giving us space to mourn our loss, but don’t give us too much. We need our people near.
9. Send us money. I know. Is this really the time to mention the M word that no one ever seems to like? But yes, I’m adding it. Just honestly? Finances are a stress right now and it’s hard dealing with the weight of grief and remembering to check our bank account every two days to make sure we’re not overdrawing as we run out of milk. (Maybe that sounds dramatic, but it’s honestly a bit like that this month.) We truly could use a little help.
10. Help me get home. Ryan and I have decided it would be good for me to take the boys and visit my parents and family in Oregon toward the end of May. For so many reasons, but the biggest one is pretty simple… I miss them and I need to be near them. Maybe you can help us come up with finances for plane tickets for Levi and I (Judah is still free). Ryan will need to stay and carry on with ministry responsibilities but we feel it’s right for the boys and I to go at least. Unfortunately our savings is beyond empty so we’ll need some help if this is to become a reality.
11. Read our story. Because I am a writer, story telling is a huge part of my processing and making sense of what’s just happened. (Not that I will probably ever make sense of it.) I know that not everyone “gets” this need to write, and that some would even be shocked at the level of vulnerability and personal detail that I share. I can’t necessarily explain why it’s so important for me to share like I do, but it is. When you read our story (and let me know that you did) it helps me to know that you care about what happened. But more importantly, somehow it makes it all more real – it makes her life and her death more real. (And I need to process both.) Knowing that her story is heard is validating and affirming and helps me gives substance to her short life.
You guys, I genuinely did not intend to list this many things. I guess once I got writing I realized we really could use a lot of help right now.
And please know that as I’m putting these suggestions out there, it’s not as if they aren’t already being met to an extent. We are so grateful for those who have brought meals or taken the boys last weekend. We’ve read and re-read every text message. And we’ve gobbled up cookies made for us “just because” friends know how much I love them. We’re thankful for all of it.
I bet if you’ve read this far it’s because you’re already praying for us, already helping us, already demonstrating your love in one capacity or another. Thank you for that. How I wish I could name you each and write endless notes of gratitude for the way you’ve been Jesus to us. Please know that we are blessed and that we know we are loved.
With gratitude and love,
Adriel for the family xx