Last night at 11 pm, my husband received a call on his cell phone from a number we didn't recognize. The voice mail sounded odd, so he called back. It was the coroner from Macon County, Georgia. He had found a check in my friend's purse from me, with obviously our contact information. He was calling to try to get in contact with my friend Melissa's next of kin.
That was just the start of the nightmare.
He then went on to tell me that Melissa, her husband Brent, and their two boys (ages 5 and 2), were in an accident on their way to Florida for spring break. Brent was killed, Melissa was in critical condition, but the boys were miraculously unharmed.
My head was spinning, my hands shaking so badly I could barely write the information down legibly on a piece of scrap paper I found in our junk drawer. My husband had to call Melissa's parents to notify them, while I'm sitting in disbelief on the kitchen floor.
My friend, at age 29, is now a widow.
My heart is breaking, I can't sleep, can't eat, can't concentrate, can't hug my kids enough. I can't stop watching my husband love on our kids, play with our kids, just be with our kids. I'm soaking it all in, feeling grateful, sad, angry, tired, frustrated, defeated and mourning all at the same time.
I hate the phrase "it's not fair." But, this? This. is not fair. I don't understand why God called Brent home before we all felt ready. I don't know why those boys lost their daddy, and Melissa lost her husband. I don't know why. I just keep praying for peace, comfort, guidance and wisdom in the physicians taking care of Melissa, and comfort and love to surround those young boys in this time of loss. There are no words.
I've had a lot of time to sit, think, cry, reflect, and pray tonight. And my mind started wandering to photography.
Photography puts emotions into tangible form. They are constant reminders of our families, friends, the ones we love, the things we do, who we are. They remind us of our baby's first smiles, first steps, our first kiss as a married couple, first day of school. They are such a wonderful wonderful way of capturing life as it happens. A gift.
I hear all the time people say, "Oh, I want to wait until I lose these last 15 pounds of baby weight." "Oh, I want to wait until the baby is old enough to smile." "Oh, I want to wait until my husband gets his hair cut, finally cuts his beard, he wants to lose some weight." "I want to wait until spring/summer/fall/winter." "I want to wait until a Saturday."
I want to wait...I want to wait...I want to wait.
Please. Don't wait.
Don't wait, because you never know when life throws us a curveball, and our path is forever changed.
Please, embrace the extra 15 pounds, the baby that isn't quite smiling on demand, the husband who has an annoying beard he won't shave, the kiddo with a bad haircut, the "wrong" day/time/season.
Life is happening. This second. Don't wait. Live every day as it's your last. Because we never know when life on this earth is over. It can be over in an instant, a second, a nanosecond.
Tell those you love that you love them. Take pictures, write things down, hug, laugh often, don't go to bed angry. Smile. Hope. Pray. Every day.
Don't wait to take pictures of your family, and use silly little reasons that don't matter in the end as an excuse.
Capture life. As it is. And embrace it.
I thank you all so much for continuing to pray for Melissa and her boys, Dylan and Colton. And also for their families, who are in a nightmare of their own. I pray that God's will be done. I try to remember that God did spare the lives of Melissa and her sons, that I should be forever thankful for that. I pray for strength for the Burns and Hock families. For comfort, for peace, and that they feel everyone's arms around them, loving them, praying for them, comforting them in this time.
This is Brent, Melissa, Colton and Dylan. Please continue praying for Melissa and the boys, for they are about to face the hardest year of their lives.
Thanks so much for reading. For being an ear, a shoulder to cry on.