17 June, 2009

2 Years Ago Today.

Two years ago today I got up just like any regular Sunday Morning. I got the kids ready for church as usual. We arrived at church (probably about 5-10 minutes late) as was the norm. I taught the primary children something wonderful (I'm sure) and we returned home. Nothing fantastic. Nothing unusual. Nothing that deviated from any normal Sunday activity in the Norton home.

When we pulled into the driveway my parents rental car was parked there. Still, not surprising, as they were visiting our family for the week. We all filed out of the van and headed in to get our post church snacks. Normal. It was at this point that I noticed the look on their faces and I felt the sudden urge to throw up. I had NO CLUE what was going on.

Nothing could EVER have prepared me for what happened next.

Once we got the kids all settled, they sat Richie and I down on the couch. At this point my stomach was really churning. The only thing I could think of was that they were going to tell me that they were getting divorced (if you know my parents you know what an absurd thought that was; I just couldn't think of another single thing that would have caused them to look at me the way they did).

I don't remember much of what happened next.

The only words I remember came from my Dad.

" . . .passed away."

It's ironic that I'm actually sitting here typing this in the same place he was sitting when he gave me the news. Looking back, I don't know how he ever found the strength to say those words out loud. He knew he was going to break my heart, but there was no way around it. Dad, I've never recognized you for being so brave that day. I love you.

I remember not feeling anything. It was like down to my very soul I didn't know how to respond. It was all just completely and totally surreal. I remember putting my hand over my mouth and just sitting there in silence for a really long time. Finally I started asking questions. First about how, then about pain. . . I was really anxious to know if he'd suffered at all. I still praise God every day for taking him so peacefully.

Then I remember trying to stand. I felt like my knees were going to buckle beneath me. I was dizzy. My stomach was really churning now. I just walked around the coffee table and took my mom in my arms. The first emotion I remember feeling was compassion for this woman who had just lost her baby. All I wanted to do was take the pain away from her. At this point, I cried a little bit for the first time.

Raleigh came walking into the room. Raleigh. Raleigh. Raleigh. In the instant that I had to decide what to do, a million thoughts raced through my mind. I remembered the love that those two shared. In that moment I could literally feel it coursing through my veins. I remembered how no one had influenced Gavin's life the way his little nephew had. Ever. I remembered how Raleigh didn't love a soul on this Earth the way he loved his Unkie. Without hesitation I knelt down, looked him in the eyes, those beautiful brown eyes, and told him the truth. I think both our souls were broken in that instant.

In that moment, I watched my little boy become a man. . . he was faced for the first time (at 4 years of age) with a huge reality. Bigger than anything any of us had ever been faced with in our entire lives.

I took him in my arms and walked out of the house. We went to Richie's office were we poured over pictures of Gavin on the computer. I didn't cry.

My eyes remained almost completely dry for days. It was terrible. I wanted to cry. I wanted to let some of the absolute disgust OUT and I knew that tears were the only way to do that, but I did not cry.

Then the whirlwind began. There were calls to be made. Arrangements to attend to. Life went on.

And life goes on still. And that's ok.

I finally cried a few days later. And when I did I swear to you that it was as if the gates to Heaven had opened and I could have reached right in and touched the hand of a loving Father in Heaven. God is good.

That is the singular lesson I have learned over the mountain we've climbed this past two years: God is good.

God is there, and he is good.

39 comments:

Shanae said...

I can barely see my keyboard through my tear filled eyes, but I want to thank you for this amazing, powerful, emotional post, what strength. You are an amazing woman, in so many ways.

Kyle and Lesley said...

I wholeheartedly agree. Thank you for sharing this.

Michael said...

You don't know me, but i found your blog through a friends. I just wanted to say thanks for sharing this. I lost my day three years ago this month and it seems every year at this time I have to stop and reflect on life and love. Thank you for sharing these intimate personal experiences. God IS good!

Anonymous said...

Natalie, I found your site about a year ago and check in periodically to see your work. Today's post left me in tears. I'm so sorry for your loss and so grateful for your continued healing. It was good to be reminded today that "God is there".

Von Orgill said...

Natalie,

I've been thinking of you, your Mom and Dad and your family this morning. I'm praying for you all now as I did then.

May the peace of the Lord ever be with you.

With much love,

Von

oneshotbeyond said...

that's the great thing about love and relationships...the memories live on. It's good you have your family and you can all pull together for each other's strength to get through the loss and pain that exisits.

Zia's Photography said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. God IS good!

Melissa said...

Thank you Natalie. It's as if I was reading my story through your words.

Brooke said...

This is simply beautiful.

Amy said...

Natalie, thank you for your transparency in all things, even when it hurts. Thinking and praying for you and your family as you remember this painful day. Love, Amy

shelly said...

Natalie. I LOVE YOU.

richie said...

Beautiful Nat. I remember that sad day so well. I LOVE YOU! Gavin LOVED you SO much. You too had an amazingly uncommon/awesome friendship. You too were absolute best friends. You are so strong! I remember one of Gavin's journal entries that he made when one of his friends passed away. He said something like, "Happy for him, sad for his family." I feel the same way. I know Gavin is happy but it's very sad to not have him right here with us. I'm just glad to know he's doing a marvelous work on the other side and we'll see him again. LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU!

chelsnort said...

I love you Gavin Sooooo Much, you still make me happy!

Heather Ashby said...

Natalie, that was a beautiful post. Gavin was so original, and so upbeat. You and your family are so strong. Every friend that attended the funeral said it was the most beautiful/spiritual experience they've had. It's so wonderful to know families are forever. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
Heather (Steadman)

gerdez said...

When I was 12, my father died suddenly. I worshiped my father. He died fast. One moment he was there, the next he was gone. I haven't wept for him to this day. I just can't. Don't know why. Maybe the emotions are too strong. I'm 30 now. I haven't wept for anybody since then and I hate funerals.

P.S. Great post on DPS, btw...

Jax Designs said...

Thank you for sharing, Natalie...

Ashleigh said...

okay i'm never reading your blog at work again. crying is sorta unprofessional. my heart and prayers are with you and your boys today. i love you guys.
ashleigh

Jana Neser said...

Natalie, I always love when you post about Gavin. You two really did have a special relationship. You are such an inspiration of faith and love. Thank you for being such an awesome example!
xoxo Jana

PS I about lost it when I read about you having to tell Raleigh. They loved each other SO much.

I'm Natalie. said...

Gerdez,

That is unbelievable to me. The only way I've been able to heal and find myself again has been through tears. I hope you have found your own way to heal and that your life is rich and full.

Aloha,

Natalie

Gina Meola said...

Natalie, thank you for revisiting a moment so painful to further confirm God's grace in the lives of His children. You are a blessing, as is Gavin.

Amber Duron said...

this was so beautiful; just amazing. i'm so sorry for your loss but happy that you've found a way to move foward with the help and love of God.

your posts about gavin and how you have learned to move ahead with your life and be happy were truly inspiring to me.

thank you. your amazing!

Stephanie J. Robertson said...

this was the most beautifully written tribute i have ever read and honestly- i have been touched at how you have kept gavin such a part of your life and honored his memory and your family in turn. you are such a strong and wonderful person that i and so so so many others look up to! and you are FUN and full of life and positive energy and excitement. i just had the odd, but true thought that if i wasnt already a member of the church and i met you- i would want to know more just because of who you are and how you represent yourself.

hope this comment wasnt too creepy- it was honestly how i felt and i thought you should know! :)

hope you had a great day remembering your wonderful brother.

Photo Visions Hawaii said...

I saw your link today on a friend's page, which led me to your blog. Thank you for your beautiful post. I'm sorry for your loss. It's so difficult to lose a loved one, especially unexpectedly. There's a feeling of emptiness that you try to keep filled with good memories.

My husband's sister passed away unexpectedly two years ago as she gave birth to her 7th child. We miss her very much, but yes. God is good and has our sister as one of his most special and vibrant angels with him. We will see her again someday and it will be a joyful reunion. Thank you for sharing, Heavenly Father's blessings to you and your family!

I'm Natalie. said...

steph, that was not creepy at all. It was so so kind. THANK YOU!

N

Sister Uyehara said...

God is GOOD and so are you Natalie :)

Alicia said...

I came over from DPS (GREAT post on confidence! I so needed that!)... and came across your post. Almost 3 years ago (next month) my younger, 20 year old brother died. Reading your words was like reading an entry in my own journal. Yes, God is good.

http://theladyisablogger.blogspot.com

Annie said...

Yes Natty Gann, God is good. And I know He's taking good care of our buddy--and good care of all of us.

I love you.
Mom

Annie said...

p.s. just posted a video that will make you think of Gavin and smile.

Tony said...

Hi,
Got here via DPS article ... helpful stuff.
You are very brave to share this post and your faith shines through. The Lord is able to sustain us thro' every valley and thro' every storm; He is FAITHFUL and will never leave us!
Greetings from UK, ex-missionary pastor who worked 20 years in South America, now freelance photography and some church ministry.
Enjoy my Flickr...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7243480@N05/

Linda said...

Natalie,

You are truly a Gem! I have learned so much from you about photography but I have also learned so much about dealing with grief. After loosing my parent reading your blog entries about Gavin have help me through some pretty tough days. Thank you for sharing : ) My thoughts are with you and your family today.

P.S Have you ever considered writing a book? I'm sure what ever you chose to write about, it would be a best seller.

Hugs,

Linda

I'm Natalie. said...

Thanks Linda. If I wrote a book it would probably be titled "Don't Listen to a Word I Say, Because I don't have a clue what I'm talking about." :) HA!

hunnyblossom said...

That was such a comforting article and in the end its always good to know God is sovereign :). Thank you for sharing.

runjun said...

Came here through your post on DPS.....Have faith on the Almighty ...he is there and will always be there with you......

Wendy said...

I have a "Two Years Ago Today" story, but it ends the same as yours. God is good. All the time, He is good.
Thanks for your vulnerable post...
Wendy Scott

Sindy Hand said...

I have learned the same thing since i lost my dad 6 years ago. I dont think i'd be able to move on if i didnt know God. Yes, God is good.

Thank you for sharing this, may God bless you.

:-)

Katherine said...

Thanks so much for sharing this with us all! My dad is in heaven now too. Do you have some pictures of you and Gavin that you can share with us?

Igno van Niekerk said...

Thanks. Makes one realize again that we have to appreciate every moment, every smile and every breath.

Brady and Rachel said...

You put it all so perfectly Nat. Thank you for sharing. Its hard to believe it has been that long already, I remember you telling me on the beach one day about 6 months after he passed away. I was in shock. I couldn't believe something similar that happened to Brady's little brother, happened to your little bro too. Its never easy. Heavently father decided he was ready for them both. I'm so grateful for the peace and comfort he has given our family, as well as the peace and comfort he has given you and yours. God is good.

Anonymous said...

Dear Natalie,

My heart sunk and I had tears in my eyes reading this blog. I am sincerely sorry for the loss of your brother. I was instantly taken back to the moment just six months prior to your loss, when my mother passed away at the young age of 51. I agree with you, it is a mountain we have to climb when someone we love is no longer here to make new memories with us. I know your and my heart will never heal completely from our losses but I hope we can one day find comfort in knowing this was the way it was meant to be.

Bless you and yours. Thank you for sharing your heart xxx