But you can't outrun the darkness. You have to turn around and walk toward it, even if all you can muster are baby steps. That's where we are at. We are trying to figure out how to go on without our son. How do we get through each day feeling this gap in our family? How can God be good and allow this to happen? What will happen to Emma and Hazen as they grow up in a family that is dealing with loss? But we can not go forward alone. Mark and I need to cling to each other, to our family, to our friends. And we need the guidance of those who have walked before us. Who can offer hope that while we will never forget Jairus, that we will one day experience true joy again. That we will find reasons to genuinely smile again.
Mark and I just spent 3 days out at Smile Again Ministries in Cross Lake, MN.
We heard about SAM through the Micah Wessman Foundation which does great work in trying to give grieving parents resources and support. We are very grateful to Cory and Heather Wessman and the blessing they have been in reaching out to us since Jairus passed away.
Smile Again Ministries is a retreat center for families who have had a child die. While there we had lots of time to relax and rest, to grieve, to laugh and to get counseling with Pat and Judy, the wonderful couple who created and run SAM. They lost their 13 year old daughter, Mickey 22 years ago. Their story is heartbreaking. They struggled through the valley of the shadow of death and are now reaching out to other parents who are in the midst of pain. They understand what it means to cry, to scream and to question. And they know the ache for a child who has gone to heaven. And yet today they are full of joy and life and hope.
It was just the two of us and Pat and Judy, which was so beneficial for us because we got to drink up all their wisdom and experience for as long as we wanted. They gave us a chance to share about our sweet boy, to talk about the whirlwind of emotions we experience every day, to discuss our marriage and our support network and to begin planning for the many "firsts" we are experiencing without Jairus (holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, mother/father's days, etc.) We were able to talk with them about Hazen and Emma and how they are dealing with losing their brother too, and next time we will definitely bring them with us so they can enjoy the beauty of the Northwoods and get some time with Pat and Judy as well. We were really blessed by our time there, and would encourage anyone facing the loss of a child to consider spending time at SAM.
Here are a couple photos from our weekend. If you have any questions or want more information, please let us know!
|Our room, also has a loft with beds for kids who come along|
|Main living area, through glass doors you can watch deer being fed every morning|
|Main living area with full kitchen, large windows in background look into a playroom for kids|
|750 feet of lake shore on Pickerel Lake for summer swimming/boating/fishing as well as ice fishing in the winter|