Uncle Tim… Heaven Draws Near (part 3)

uncle-tim

The call that changed everything…  Karen and I were in the middle of watching Top Gun… one of Jamie’s favorite movies… when my father-in-law (Grandpa Ken) called to break the news.

Since Heidi wasn’t home at the time, I remember needing to call my brothers.  First, Carlton… he confirmed Jamie’s death.  I don’t remember his exact words.  I just remember the firm finality… and his heavy… quiet… confusion in the midst of rapid-fire decision-demands on a Dad, my little brother, in shock.

We didn’t really grow up saying we loved one another.  Yet, before I got off the phone that night with Carlton, I told my brother I loved him.  Always have… just never said it enough.

I also called my older brother, Dave.  He’s one of the fastest thinkers I know… yet, that night he, too, was much more reserved… quieter than normal.

The next thing I remember most is knowing we needed to tell Heidi, but oh how I did not want to tell her.  How do you tell your only child that the closest she knows to a brother is gone?   And gone… by his own hand?

Heidi’s return home that Saturday evening… shattered whatever heavy silence lingered.  I wanted to protect her… but this… was bigger than me.  Even as I asked, instructed her to sit down, my soul prayed unfathomable prayers… she immediately slumped to the floor… crying, “I knew it!  I knew it!  I knew.”… too heavy – even for a 6’3” Dad to hold up…

We knew we needed to get to Colorado as soon as we could.  Rather than leave immediately in the morning, we opted to go to church.  Heidi requested we go.  And as difficult as it was to go … weighted & raw…  I am thankful we went.  Our Sunday School sincerely loved on us that day.  They listened.  They reached out with hugs and words of condolence.  They even gifted us with an envelope…they had no idea how needed that cash gift was at that time.

While I had many questions throughout this, God’s Presence… His Grace and generosity… His Hope held me close.

Prayers and encouragement from a body of believers… truly, girds our souls with deep roots for daunting times … that demand… endurance.  I cannot deny… These are His provisions poured out among His people.  A Sovereign, yet profound mystery.

As we drove north that day, I remember a profound sense of questions… and indescribable sadness.  Where do we go from here?

When we got to Carlton and Kathy’s that Sunday evening, I remember the questions surged.  How exactly did he do it?  How was the scene left?  What exactly did his room look like before he left?  Was there a note?  Any evidence offering conclusive answers as to why he did it?

I’m sure not everyone handles this kind of thing the same.  But, I am thankful Carlton and Kathy allowed us to investigate through Jamie’s room well into the night.  I remember one of my brother-in-laws going through room contents with me.  Heidi, Michael and one of Jamie’s friends also waded through his stuff for several hours… exhausting.

Jamie had been in the process of painting his room when he left for the weekend, so things were a little disheveled… but, minimally so.  Overall, his characteristic precision and order remained despite the project.  Ultimately, we pieced together enough to somewhat calm the guttural urgency.  He left no one note to give conclusive answers.

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.

Fannie Crosby All The Way My Savior Leads Me

Jamie professed Jesus as Savior.  He’d been baptized just a couple years prior.  Baptism is a public profession of personal faith entered into by personal initiative yet witnessed and upheld by a community of Christ followers.  What silenced his hope?  How could he succumb in those final moments?

“… All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.

Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see…”

Jamie wrestled darkness for sometime.  We learned he’d battled insomnia for some months.  He battled bouts of extreme emotion.  But, his final decision… was as decisive, tidy, and ordered …  consistent with his historical personality.  Why?

My own imagination seemed to stew beyond me… over and over again, I saw him in what I imagined his last moments may have looked like.  Neatly packing away his minimal belongings.  Removing the strap.  Securing its place… sinking into the pressure… never to unfold his hands again.  Why didn’t he just put his hands down?  Why didn’t he get interrupted?  Why couldn’t the paramedics save him?  Why did he have a copy of Helter Skelter with him?

When the family had our time at the funeral home… I remember others commenting about how peaceful he looked.  When I looked, I didn’t see him.  His body, yes.  But, his soul was not there.  Could we uncover any answers in the casket?   I had to see his wounds.  His body lay so unnaturally still with his collared shirt pulled up to his chin.  Longer necks seem to be more common among our genes, so this looked severely off.  I didn’t expect his body to hold his countenance; yet, I think I hoped for more answers.  Pushing back his collar near his ear… the purple ring revealed… where life pooled … and stilled.

Where do we go from here?

continued Uncle Tim… Heaven Draws Near (part 4)

 

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One thought on “Uncle Tim… Heaven Draws Near (part 3)

  1. Pingback: Uncle Tim… Heaven Draws Near (part 2) | Shadows Presence

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