May His Comfort Reign

In the Name of the Kind and Beautiful Precious Beloved

I was standing in my  mother’s kitchen when I first heard the news: Whitney Houston, a singer to whom I grew up listening, had died at the age of 48. Since then, and in full from at the Grammy Awards, people and celebrities all across the country have sent in their condolences and prayers. I add my voice to that chorus:

May His comfort reign supreme over Whitney Houston’s family, especially her daughter. As a father who lost his child, I know full well the pain and suffering that loss of a dear loved one can bring. Ever since that horrific day, whenever I learn of the death of anyone, my heart twinges with pains of empathy. And my empathy extends to the Houston family.

As I reflect upon her death, it is amazing how much the country is affected whenever a celebrity dies. Although Whitney Houston did die at a young age, still, as my wife pointed out to me, it seems like celebrities are not subject to laws of God; it seems that they will always be with us to grace us with their talent. As we can see, it is sadly not true. Celebrities, like the rest of us, are human beings: they live, they die; they eat, they sleep; and they are plagued with the same things with which we all are.

Still, whenever one dies – anyone, really, – my response will be the same: may His comfort reign over all those touched by her death. For the truly greatest comfort comes from the Precious Beloved Lord alone. Amen.
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Must Always Remember

In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful

As I enjoyed the majority of Memorial Day off with my family (I did have to go into the hospital and see some patients in the morning), it was amazing to see how many people were out and about shopping (just like we were). Families were everywhere, walking to and fro, and carrying bags from various retailers after having scooped up some cool deals (just like we did).

As I drove back, I noticed a band of men on motorcycles carrying a large American flag; I also noticed that many of the flags (if not all) were flying at half staff, in memoriam of all those soldiers who fought and died for this country. I did not fail to remember them as well. Yet, it seemed to be in the background, in the distance somewhere, perhaps quite far from the scores of shoppers making it difficult to navigate my car around the parking lot.

Well, we should always remember.

I do not agree with every deployment that those in command may send our soldiers; I do not accept when our soldiers commit crimes of ugliness when they are deployed by those in command; yet, I honor their commitment and sacrifice nonetheless. They serve so that I, and millions upon millions like me, do not have to. And for all those families that have lost loved ones serving our country, I send you my prayers for comfort and peace.

Losing someone you love is never easy. May the Lord always bring down His comfort to ease the pain.
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I Am In Misery

In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful

I didn’t think I could find God in a Maroon 5 song. The beauty of our Precious Beloved, however, is that He is everywhere, and all we have to do is look and find Him there. I first heard this song in a Radio Shack store, and it really got me moving. The tone of the song is quite upbeat, and it is hard (for me, at least) not to dance to this song. Yet, the narrator of the song is in quite bit of pain, based on the lyrics.

On the surface, the song is about the pain of someone who has gone through – or is currently going through – a break up in a relationship:

So scared of breaking it
But you won’t let it bend
And I wrote two hundred letters
I won’t ever send
Somehow these cuts are so much
Deeper then they seem
You’d rather cover up
I’d rather let them be
So let me be
And I’ll set you free

The comes to chorus:

I am in misery
There ain’t nobody
Who can comfort me
Why won’t you answer me?
Your silence is slowly killing me
Girl you really got me bad
You really got me bad
I’m gonna get you back
Gonna get you back

The falsetto that Adam Levine brings to the song adds to the melancholy of the narrator’s lament. And it really strikes a nerve with  me. For, so many times, I am in misery over the loss of my daughter to lymphoma 18 months ago. Yes, time has passed, and yes, the Lord has brought us much happiness in the interim.

But the pain has not subsided, not in the least.

It is deep, unreachable ache that permeates my entire soul. It is a void that can never be filled again. Part of me died with her on that hot June morning in 2009, and I will never be the same again. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her and mourn over her loss; mourn that I can’t be with her again (on this earth); mourn that I can’t share a laugh with her again; mourn that I can’t get her a “concoction” (mix of Sprite and Root Beer) that she always loved to drink; mourn that I can’t have the honor of carrying her everywhere we went ever again (she could not walk).

Every day I mourn, and it sometimes brings me so much misery.

And when the Narrator of the song asks, “Why won’t you answer me?” I think of how my daughter can never answer me again on this earth because she is gone. The silence of her absence, and the absence of the love and joy she brought us, does sometimes slowly kill me. I know how the narrator feels when he says, “Girl, you really got me bad, really got me bad.” That’s because, from the very first moment I laid eyes on my baby, my first-born child, I was in total love.

It was – at that point in my life – the happiest day of my life. I didn’t know I could love another human being that much, especially since my heart was already overflowing with love for my beautiful wife. But our daughter brought us so much joy and happiness. Her smile would light the room and warm the heart. Anyone she would ever meet would be instantly in love with her. She had such a beautiful presence, and I truly feel she was as close as angelic as any human being could ever be. She was, in fact, a piece of God’s Light on this earth, and it was so wonderful to have her in our lives.

As she became more ill, it pained me to see her suffer. But, at least, we were together. People would frequently look at me with eyes of sympathy and pity (I could feel it) whenever I would carry her inside someone’s house. But, I was the happiest man on earth. I never minded any of the hardship I may have had with her. Never. I was the happiest man on earth.

As I recount all the wonderful memories of our life with our daughter – the “happy days,” my wife and I call them – the pain of her loss always becomes more acute, and thus the Narrator’s words, “I am in misery/There ain’t nobody/Who can comfort me,” are all the more meaningful to me.

And if you were to look at me listening to this song, it would be odd. I may very well be dancing or moving my body to this song, but my heart, if you could see it, would be crying out in sheer miserable pain.

Sometimes, truly, I am “desperate and confused” because I am “So far away from” my daughter here on earth. But, you know, it is as the Narrator says, “I’m getting here/I don’t care where I have to run.” As I continue to live my life, and I pray that it is a righteous one, I am slowly moving towards my reunion with the Lord God on High.

And I hope – and desperately pray – that my daughter’s smiling face with be there to greet me in His Garden.

So, where is God in all of this?

He is right there when I hear the Narrator lament, “There ain’t nobody/Who can comfort me.” On one level, that is so true. There is no human being that can bring me comfort for the loss of my child. There is nothing one can say that can make me feel better.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiments of friends and family and their attempt to comfort me. But, it is such a devastating loss that only other parents who have lost children truly understand. It is an elite club into which I pray none of you reading this ever get initiated.

Yet, when I hear the Narrator say, “There ain’t nobody/Who can comfort me,” I say: “That’s not true. Lord, You were there to comfort me, and You have done so much for me.”

The pain and torture of watching my child die was (and continues to be) unmitigated Hell. But, the Lord sent me comfort. He sent me hundreds of family members, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers who prayed for my healing and comfort. When they were putting dirt over my daughter’s pink and white casket, and I completely lost it, He sent me someone to hold my hand and tell me, without saying any words at all, “It’s OK. It’s gonna be OK.”

That person knows who he is, and I will never, ever forget what he did for me. It was the Precious Beloved who sent him to me at that moment.

And since that horrific day, the Precious Beloved has sent my wife and me many days of happiness and joy, even though they are always intermixed with the indelible pain of our loss. Still, while the song’s Narrator has “nobody/Who can comfort me,” I know, and am forever grateful for, the fact that I have the Lord our God who can and has comforted me. Lord, thank You so much for that comfort.

I know that I will have many more days of misery ahead of me, for the loss of a child is truly an unnatural event. But, I pray for the fortune of having the Precious Beloved comfort me during those days, as He has done so marvelously thus far. The challenge for me is to try to live a life of righteousness, worthy of the Precious Beloved’s Grace, Blessings, Mercy, and Love. I know I will never achieve such a feat, but I will, God willing, live the rest of my life trying.