Weakness


Reminiscing back to last year. Thinking of all that had already happened by this time and all that was yet to come. Doubting that I will ever truly understand how I had the strength to walk that day let alone stand up and say these words:

Oh my sweet baby girl. You were the joy of my heart and I long to hear your gentle chatter and laughter as I hold you in my arms. I cannot fathom how long that I have to wait to see you again. And my gracious husband, you brought out some of the best in me and loved me knowing all my short comings. I cannot believe you are gone. I was the lucky one.

I wanted to speak today so that people could understand the love that Colin had for his family, friends, and students. 

Family time, with his own kids or extended family, was a priority for him. And he loved us with a willingness be honest and real. There were many sacrifices that most of us will never know that he made for our happiness. Even times when I felt frustrated and overwhelmed with his extracurricular commitments, I had NO doubts about his devotion and love for me and our kids.  

I remember discussing one night how our lives would change if we won the lottery and he said “Well, I would still want to teach and coach just maybe a little less.”
It became a joke that when I caught him quiet I would guess if he was thinking about school, his basketball team, or the Calgary Flames. 

He truly had found a career that he was made for. Not only was he naturally gifted as a teacher and coach, but his heart was burdened for the lives of every child he came in contact with. For me it was impossible to be around Colin long enough and not become passionate about what he was passionate about. I now know that he not only changed my life but countless others.

Lastly, I want to talk about his greatest love. No, not the Calgary Flames, but his saviour Jesus Christ. But to understand that I have to touch on something that is a little taboo at funerals, and that is my husbands struggles and weaknesses. Not that I want to speak ill of him, but for everything that we can learn through his success I believe even more can be learnt through his faults.  

One of Colin’s biggest struggles was always feeling like he wasn’t enough. As a young boy he asked Jesus into his heart, and he told me how every time he screwed up he would feel so much shame and fear that he was sure he wasn’t saved. So he would pray again. Over and over, so much so Colin once told me he could never remember how many times he had been “saved”. His shame would drive him far away from God, yet he always yearned to make that relationship right so he would try so hard to be good and do right.

In the last few years Colin had the opportunity to be freed of this lie as he began to understand the truth of Gods love for him. He began to understand that God cared nothing for what Colin was doing or not doing for Him but more for Colin’s heart. He felt the burden of perfection and doing good lifting. He learned that on his own he was not able to live that perfect life, and that he did not have enough strength and ability. But because of who lived inside of him he was free from that burden.

The peace and joy that this gave him was contagious. As he would sit and read the bible to our boys, they loved listening to him tell about the greatness of his God. As it encouraged me to spend more time in the Word and more time investing into relationships with others.

Because of the perfect love of God within Colin he was able to love me, and love his children, and love his family and love his friends, and love you! That is what made him be the man he was. That was the source of all his strength and compassion, and joy, and peace.  

And I can say with absolute certainty that, this is what he would want you to remember:

There is no fear in love;but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

That and Go Flames Go!

I will see you again my loves. Of that I am certain.  

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An/ni/ver/sa/ry


An/ni/ver/sa/ry: the date on which an event took place in a previous year.

As I near the first anniversary of the day we lost Colin and Madeline forever, I’m finding it so hard to be present in each day and moment as I constantly feel this pull into the fog of the past. My mind is clinging to my last weekend before our lives were meteorically impacted. It’s become like a movie playing over and over in my head. Each detail crisp and vivid. There wasn’t really much besides their deaths that would make those days stand out, but now those memories are extraordinarily precious. 

It was the second week into summer vacation and Colin was running basketball camps Monday to Friday. It usually took him a few weeks after school ended to really relax and get into holiday mode. And by Friday he was ready.

We had an exciting weekend ahead, and I remember worrying that it was going to be too busy. Colin BBQed hamburgers for supper that night and then we walked over to the midway. We took in the sights, the boys went on some rides, and we ate mini donuts and cotton candy. After the kids were in bed we snuggled on the couch and caught up on some PVRed television.

Saturday we had waffles for breakfast and headed back to Main Street for Madeline’s first parade. She thoroughly enjoyed the floats, the boys loved the candy, and we saw many familiar faces as we sat in the shade. We walked through the vendor market and children’s play area on the way home. And then spent the rest of the day playing in the backyard and swimming in the pool.

I ran two errands that afternoon; one to the grocery store to pick up some watermelon for Sunday; when I was there Colin texted me a picture of a recipe that he wanted to make for supper so I picked up all the ingredients that we didn’t have at home. The other was to visit the farmers market to order a matching headband and some sandals for Madeline’s outfit for my sisters upcoming wedding. Never imagining that they would instead turn into her funeral clothes.

The kids got to bed a little late that night, but quickly as they were exhausted from all the activity and sun. Once they were fast asleep and dreaming, I got to work preparing for the next day. We were heading to my parents place in Three Hills the next morning to see my family. My sister and her fiancé; my brother and his family from BC, including their brand new baby girl. Even my eldest brother’s family from Africa were there, only he was missing as he wasn’t due back in Canada for a few more days.

The very last text message that Colin ever sent me was from that night: “Come outside. Soooooooooo nice.” To be honest, I debated it for a moment. Thinking about all that I had to do before the next day, and how exhausted I was. Oh how grateful I am that I went downstairs and out the back door to the deck. Colin was sitting there with a glass of wine for each of us. And it truly was a ‘10-O’ so nice out there. We sat and drank our Merlot. We reminisced about the weekend, and imagined the summer ahead. He talked about his week at camp with the kids, and all his plans for the next year. We discussed our twelve year wedding anniversary coming up and our plans to do something extra special for our 15th. We laid out all the projects that we planned to do around the house, and promised to make sure to take time to do fun and spontaneous things with the kids.

Sunday morning, after breakfast, the kids all ended up playing together in the bonus room, Colin jumped in the shower and I went to finish packing. When he was clean he grabbed me and tried to convince me that since we would be missing our traditional Sunday afternoon “nap” we should make time for it before we left. I took a little convincing, as I was worried about the kids, and being late, and messing my hair. Having no idea that it would be the last time I’d ever make love to my husband. And then we all buckled up and drove off.

Most of you know the rest of the details, from personal accounts, news stories, or secondhand versions. And everyone knows how it ends. How that lazy Sunday drive turned into a sudden tragic nightmare.

Subconsciously, I wonder if I’m hoping that these memories will be cathartic and make things less painful. I know that isn’t possible. Though I can rationalize that no good can come from only focusing on the devastating loss; instead I need to relish in the joy-filled, love-soaked, memory-rich, and laughter-sprinkled weekend that we had. All the special moments that we enjoyed together before we were ripped apart.

How I wish that was the only anniversary that we had to celebrate.