Prisoner of Hope – Hope

part 4 …….

I was thinking about what to write next when a memory popped up from many years ago.  Our family was living in a small community when a local young man committed suicide.  It was devastating.

We attended the memorial with most of the town in attendance.  The young youth pastor who spoke at the memorial service said something quite interesting.  He talked about death and how in America we are sheltered from death.  We don’t even see our meat slaughtered.  It’s all done somewhere else and put in neat packages.  It doesn’t really resemble something that was once walking around.

I’m not trying to make light of death, by no means.  And he wasn’t either.  We are a society that tends to “look the other way”, so to speak.  We see it in movies and video games far more than in real life.  We shelter our children from some of reality.

But, when death comes to you it is very scary to face it.  I lost my father at a young age and never got to say goodbye.  I was only about 4 years old but was left home.  That was the way our family dealt with things.  We lost a dear friend at the age of 21 and went to the funeral home with his parents for the final goodbye before cremation.  It was surreal.  I even touched him.  He was cold. It was sad.  And we said goodbye.

When we lost our daughter I was getting fretful over the fact of seeing her lifeless.  When her body arrived at the funeral home from California we were told we shouldn’t see her.  I remember our daughter-in-law asking why not?  We were told by the kindest man, with tears in his eyes, about how she looked after rock and structures had disfigured half her face.  I was good with that.  I have the most beautiful memory of her joyful face forever imprinted in my mind. I am thankful for that.  I know there are many who do not have that.

Death is never easy.  Loss is always difficult.  but these words of Emily Dickinson say so much about hope.

 Hope is always there.  Hope can be your anchor through the hardest of times.  It keeps you going and keeps you strong.

to be continued ………..


Prisoner of Hope – Foggy Days

Part 2 …….

The next twenty-four hours where as though I walked in a fog.  A thick, tangible fog.  I could function but felt as though I was going in circles.  Many friends and acquaintances  came by or called to let us know they were praying that our daughter would be found safe.  Working at a police department helped me.  Our dispatcher called California for us to see if she could get answers.  Our Captain did the same.  We later found out that a high school friend of our daughter’s who lived out there jumped in his car to see if he could look for her.  They wouldn’t let him in the area.

After a sleepless night and intense day we received the call from the Coroner’s Office.  They had her body.  Writing this gives me great pain in my heart even seven years later.  It’s the news no parent wants to receive.  It’s the news no parent deserves.

You find yourself in an intense split moment of a crucial decision.  What are you going to do?  Of course you cry out and you fall apart.  That is a given.  We all respond in a different way.  We hold each other and we hurt like we’ve never hurt before.  Then, when you get through the initial shock – however long that takes us – you decide to either get better or get bitter.  You decide whether to entertain thoughts like, “If only I …..”, or “What if she …”, OR say, “No, it happened and what will I do now?”

We had to call our sons.  We had to call China, where a brother was alone in a very foreign land with no friends to comfort him and tell him his only sister was gone.  We had to call Kirk in Kansas City, who just a few weeks before had spent Christmas with his sister in California.  And then we had to call my husband’s mother in Idaho, elderly and frail.  We had her minister go to her first.  That woman was a trooper!

We all chose to move forward.  It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  The anchor I mentioned in the last post just got bigger and stronger.  We saw incredible things transpire before us – things that we couldn’t have done in our “condition”.  Things like getting a son home from China in a hurry.  Planning a memorial service we wanted nothing to do with.  People in the community coming to our side and literally doing these things for us.  We had to let them because the “fog” was thick.

The week from the time of our loss to the memorial was very strange.  We’ve all heard about the feeling of “how can the world around us keep revolving when ours just crashed to a halt?” It’s so true.  Refrigerator full of food and we’re not even sure who dropped it off.  A friend walked us through the arrangements and then four months later he lost his son.  What a world we live in.

A dear friend who had lost a child told us “we just joined a club we didn’t want to join”.  So true.  We live in an imperfect world and yes, bad things do happen to good people.  But our anchor is strong.  We relate to a God who gave his son to die for mankind.  He can relate to loss.

After a week of barely eating or sleeping we greeted friends and strangers alike in front of our daughter’s casket.  After we went out in the freezing wind at the cemetery and said our goodbyes we hopped in the limo and devoured ALL the snack chip bags that were in the back.  And laughed.  Hard to imagine, but there was a release at that moment.  A release that we could now move on into the process of grieving and the process of life with one missing.

It was the worst of times and the best of times.  Because of our anchor of hope we knew that our daughter was in heaven with Jesus.  We knew that we would see her one day and be in eternity with her.  That’s good …… but it also sucks.  Not a day goes by where we don’t miss her.  But oh, the memories are wonderful and we have chosen to keep those alive in our hearts and talk openly about her.  We can’t pretend she never was.  We were blessed with the gift of Vanessa Joy Bryson in October of 1976 and loved her everyday she was with us.  Was she perfect? No.  But she was a product of our love. We nurtured her the best we knew how and so glad we knew her as along as we did.

Vanessa Joy Bryson and her dog Bailey (who also perished that day) .

to be continued ………………..cb


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