Thursday, January 8, 2015

A Year Later.....

Branson James Thayer
     A couple days ago, I received an unexpected card from a college friend.  She had already sent a Christmas card to us so I was puzzled why she sent another.  When I opened and read it, I was deeply touched.  In the card, she told me that she had been unaware that we lost our oldest grandson last year  (January 9, 2014).  She went on to write that no grandparents should ever have to bury a grandchild.  Her words were loving, and she promised to continue to keep us in prayer.  This card could not have come at a better time because my thoughts had been filled with memories of Branson James Thayer since before Christmas.  Holidays are typically tough times when there is an empty chair in the family, but as we approach the date of his death, the thoughts of him have become more frequent.
     As grandparents, a loss like this is a double edged sword.  Not only did we lose a grandson, but we also witnessed the anguish of our son and daughter in law.  Had there been a way, we would have gladly taken their pain.  Yet, there really is no way to shorten or avoid the suffering that comes with loss.  What I do thank God for is the precious bonds of Christian family that see us through times like these.  Without our faith, how could we ever recover from such a heartache?
     One of the many great verses that has been a comfort to me over the months has been Psalm 34:18:  "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."  This is a precious promise and our entire family could feel not only the love of the Lord but also the prayers of those around us.  Another Scripture that encouraged me is found in Psalm 147: 3:  "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."  Knowing that God is at work applying the salve to our wounds is assurance of His loving care for us.
     Pain and loss comes to all people both those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and those who do not.  Death is the consequence of sin.  However, those who have placed their trust in Christ have what others do not possess - HOPE.  We have the promise of resurrection and life eternal in our Lord.  We know we will see Branson again when the Lord calls us home.  For me, that is a comforting thought.
     In addition to seeing him again, we also know that in the presence of the Lord is joy forever more. Branson now has no limitations.  Where he needed assistance in walking, he can now run.  Where he had problems communicating, he can sing praises to God in heaven.  There are no more tears, pain or suffering.  Who could wish him back to a body that would not respond as he desired?
     Each one of us knew Branson from a different perspective so each one has had to reach a "new normal" via different means.  Now that a year has gone by, we can look back on all those things which captivated our hearts like his irresistible giggle when someone tripped or even dropped something; his love for the color red; his obsession with cars; his big smile and even his ornery one just before he was about to do something he should not have and finally, his triumphant statement when he achieved one of his goals "I did it!"  We are all the richer for these sweet memories today.
     Shortly after we lost Branson, I was taking the dog outside when I looked up and saw a big "X" in the sky above our house.  It was as if Branson had blown a kiss our way since he was fond of doing that.  At that moment, I felt God's loving presence reassuring me that He would see us through our time of grieving.   Now whenever I see those jet contrails in a big "X" over our home I never fail to thank God for the time we did have with Branson.  We may not understand why he had to leave when he did, but we know that God holds him in His arms, and we shall see him again.
     My closing advice to all would be to never take your family for granted.  We never know when the Lord may call someone home.  Instead do as the Lord Jesus Christ bid us to do by loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind and loving our neighbor as ourself.  Hug your loved ones and never fail to tell them you love them every day.  Selah!

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