I wrote the first part on Tuesday, July 31 while driving through California on our road trip back home:
I got on my computer with the intent of writing my race report for the San Francisco Half Marathon, but I’m distracted by the real things that matter in life right now.
Yesterday there was a terrible accident in Bastrop County, and although I was in California at the time I read the Austin news on Facebook and Twitter so I was aware of the accident pretty quickly. Something about it made me incredibly uncomfortable, and when the reports came in that two children were killed, it made my heart sink.
I had no idea those who died were part of a good friend’s family until last night. My friend lost her younger sister, two young nephews, and an unborn niece or nephew. Just like that, a man is left without his entire family, just when he was preparing to become a family of 5.
I can imagine the pain of losing a sister – the third anniversary of Trisha’s death is in a mere 5 days – but losing babies, too? The heartache is truly unimaginable. All I want to do is wrap that family in my arms and I am 3 states away.
When I got up this morning and hit the shower, I lost it and the tears would not stop coming. That family is experiencing a loss most of us could never ever imagine. And they are such incredible people.
I’m angry. It’s unfair. It HURTS. The thought of what the suddenly childless widower must be feeling is overwhelming to me. I truly can’t imagine such an enormous loss. My heart hurts so very much.
Please say prayers.
This part was started last night and finished today, August 2-3:
As my family and were driving through Arizona yesterday morning, I had a huge urge to try to make it to the funeral, which was set for 11am today. The problem was that I was still nearly 1000 miles away...a very long drive with two children when you are only expecting to drive 650 miles.
I think fate intervened and made the decision out on a stretch of I-40...it was closed due to a big rig fire 4 miles ahead. We were stuck, for possibly hours. The irony of it being a fiery accident did not escape me. Greg and I quickly realized that if we were stuck out on I-40 for much longer we weren't making it to Lubbock and our booked hotel room before it got late. By the time we would get there, the kids would already be asleep and it would be incredibly disruptive to move them and all our stuff into a hotel room for a few hours rest. It suddenly became clear...we needed to keep driving, and I was going to attend that funeral.
Now, hours later, with a million thoughts in my mind, I sit feeling numb, sad, emotional, and heartbroken. Not for myself, since I did not ever meet Liz or the boys, but for the family and for the widower left behind. I buried my sister 3 years ago this month....but today's funeral was the most gut wrenching experience of my life.
The Dowdy and Herro families are exceptional. Liz was married to Sam, who is brothers with Dan, who is married to Lauren, Liz's sister...did you catch that? Sisters married to brothers. One amazing family connected to another amazing family. I'm friends with Lauren and Dan, have spent countless hours with them as a runner and as a friend. They are two of my very favorite people in the world. Through Lauren's photographs, I was able to get a view into Liz and her spirit. She was always someone I wanted to meet and I know had I had the opportunity to spend time with her and the boys, I would love them. Lauren's photographs are just breathtaking.
Liz's dad, Jeff, spoke first. He spoke not of grief but of miracles. Julie, Liz's mom, spoke as well. She gave us a window into who Liz was. There were countless photos to beautiful music, comforting words from the pastor, and a beautiful speech and song by Liz's father-in-law, Sam Sr. We sang worship songs and watched in heartache as the caskets left the sanctuary. The service was almost 3 hours long and words can't really describe the true beauty of the celebration of 4 lives. I'm not even going to try to describe it. If you were there, you know.
I woke up this morning so profoundly sad. The tears come easily. It amazes me that although I never knew Liz or the boys, I can feel this level of grief. Perhaps it's because it hits close to home, perhaps it's part of who I am to be that sensitive, I don't know.
I have walked away from that experience a different person. The family's words on who Liz was and how we should all be echo in my head. She and Sam were the best of the best when it comes to being parents, the best of the best when it comes to being committed and we should all learn from their example. They have shown mercy, compassion, and unbelievable love. LOVE was a common theme during the service. Sometimes life is as simple as that....just LOVE.