Drove by his high school today. It wasn’t the first time. Not even close. I pass by it at lease once a week, but today was different – today it hit me hard. A memory came flooding back to me, and it was completely unexpected. It brought me back to his senior year. It was a cold day in December, and I received a text from a friend letting me know that East Providence High School has been placed on lock down because of a gun scare. I was at work when I received the text, and immediately asked my co-workers to pray. I tried calling Christiano, but couldn’t get through. I tried texting, but there was no response. I even tried the school, but to no avail.
I grasp at anything; anything that will connect me with my boy – even if only for a moment. To walk where he walked, to touch where he touched, to see what he saw, to feel what he felt. Yesterday, I was privileged to do all of those things. We went ice skating with Christiano’s friends, at the Bank Of America City Center Rink. A friend of ours put the event together in honor of Christiano. There were at least forty-two people that came out. I was blessed and a little blown away. It was special just to be there, since that was the first and only rink that Christiano ever skated on. Thankfully, we have his first time captured on video. His experience was pretty messy. He held lots of hands and had quite a few falls, and I got to watch my daughter have almost the same experience. She held lots of hands, but there were no falls for her. My two little guys, on the other hand, had plenty. It was so wonderful to stand with our loved ones where Christiano once stood.
God has been challenging me to keep my perspective open; to keep my mind, ears and eyes open to the things that He has for me. Having all of my senses open and ready for what God has to say about things is vital for my healing, restoration and growth. Allowing God to control our perspective helps all of us, really. It can help us from getting into an ‘I’ve arrived’ rut or from thinking we know it all. Thinking we have all the answers or that we have it all figured out can be a dangerous place, and, sadly, too many of us reside there. I admit – I’ve visited from time to time; lots of us do, but some never leave. This may be why we rarely hear ‘I’m not sure about this,’ or ‘I may have been wrong about that,’ or ‘I’ve gained new perspective on this issue, so let me go back on what I said before.’ Instead, we sometimes let our human revelation continue to be our guide.
Every year on Valentine’s Day, we lay out four boxes of chocolates. This year, there lay only three. What I would give to love on my eldest son today; to hold him and for him to hold me.
I love you and believe in you. I want to do what you created me to do, but I don’t know how. I feel like I don’t know how to make the right decisions. I don’t feel like you hear me when I speak mostly because I can not hear you, see you, or touch you. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I can trust you. I gave you total control of Christiano. I prayed over him and released him to your care 10 days before he died. I want to trust you but I just don’t know. When people talk about stepping out in faith I get upset or I feel like it doesn’t work. I don’t want to think or feel this way, but I do. I don’t know what you have in store for my family. I want to trust you again. I want to know you more. Lord you are sovereign and you are good. I do not know your plans for me but still in all this darkness and confusion, I must believe your word. And your word says that you know the plans you have for me and they are good, plans to prosper and not harm me. I do not know how losing my son in a tragic car accident could be good, but you do. Your word says our days are numbered; I used to believe that meant that our lives here on earth were short compared to eternity. Now I believe they are literally written in a book when we are conceived like so:
Christiano Tré Barbosa
6,834 days 6 hrs. 11 mins.
At the very moment of conception your life is breathed into us, and at the very moment we accept your son as Lord and savior your breath of life, the real life, is breathed into us. I also want to believe that life really starts when we die and not just physical death but death of our will. As I write this letter to you I feel like you are saying to me right now, that christiano is not my son, but he is yours. That on that night I released him to you, he was yours to do as you please. Lord you know better than I, and you will somehow turn this for good. I don’t see it, I don’t know how, but you do. I want to have that trust with you again that everything will work out, that everything will be okay, that assurance that you are protecting my family. I desperately long for it! I desperately long for sweet peace! I desperately long for your comfort!
These here are the cries of an earthly father being poured out to his Heavenly Father. My husband is an amazing man with a heart to provide for his family. He wants to keep us safe from harm, healed from sickness, and protected from all pain. He longs to have answers to our questions and a remedy for our suffering. So, he does all he knows to do – he turns to The Lord. For, He knows better than all of us.
When Chris sent this to me, it reminded me of a psalm written by David, who was also a man after God’s own heart. I’ve read many books on grieving since our son passed away, and in almost every one there is a warning not to forget the fathers. I am truly grateful that this hasn’t happened to my husband. A few great men have reached out and come alongside him, and that blesses me so much. But, I’m even more grateful that I married a man who is real with his Father God; a man who knows where His true help comes from, and he is faithful to remind me regularly.
I brace myself for each new day, especially the significant ones. Holidays, snow days, school vacation days, Sundays, and birthdays. I anticipate all of these days with great despair because each special day that passes reminds me of Christiano’s permanent residence and tells me again that he isn’t coming back here. On February 6th, Christiano would have been nineteen years old. It still seems surreal that he won’t turn another year older; that we won’t see his toothy grin while singing the Happy Birthday song; that he won’t blow out the candles on his cake; or, that we’ll never buy him another birthday gift – ever.