The Worst Nightmare

For some of us, the terrible nightmare begins by walking through the progressive illness of our loved day by day till discovering that this was the last one.   For others, there is no warning,  it is a sudden and traumatic loss.  Mine was the sudden one.

I have been encouraged to tell my story to help others.   If this is the first months of your own loss, please be gentle to yourself and read this when you feel strong. 

My nightmare started while I was still awake.  It was late and I was pulling on my pajamas when the phone rang.  “It must be Ben!” I smiled, “He's calling to tell me about his bicycle ride today with Jared.”  Ben, my 25 year old son, was living in Vancouver, far away from me in Milton, Ontario and was training to bicycle 300 km from Seattle to Portland, a fun ride for these strong and experienced competitive cyclists.  

Snatching up the phone, I was surprised to hear my son-in-law, Jason’s voice calling from Calgary where they lived.  “Are you alone?” he asked.   That's a weird way to say hello, I thought, and especially considering it was 11:30 pm and that I did live alone.  He did not wait for me to answer.  “Hanne is on her way over,”  he continued.  Hanne is a dear friend.  “What? At this time of night?  Why is she coming now?”  "We called her, " he answered. 

And then the nightmare really began.  

“Are you sitting down?” he asked.   There I was, on the edge of my bed. 

“There has been an accident.” 

“What?  Who?”

“Ben.  Ben has been in an accident.”

“What? What happened?”

“Ben was hit by a car.”

“What?  Is he OK?  Is his car OK?

“No, Mom.  He was hit while he was bicycling.”

“What?  Is he in the hospital?”

“No, Mom.  He was hit and ... he was killed.”

“This is not funny, this is a sick, sick joke.  Don't tell me such a sick joke!” I shouted into the phone.

“No, Mom.  It is true.”

That is when I collapsed to the floor screaming in pain.  It was like someone had taken a baseball bat and swung it full force into my gut!  Breathless, I screamed “No!” over and over. My son-in-law explained my daughter Colleen had gotten the terrible news first and was distraught, but they wanted to tell me before the Toronto police came to officially deliver the news.  

I called my pastor.  As I choked out what happened,  the pain crushed me so hard that I had to vomit.  I could not stand up and crawled to the bathroom.   For the next hour, I lay sobbing on the cold white floor, while he tried to comfort me over the phone.  I agreed with the true words about God being in charge but I could not understand why this happened?  And why to me?  Was God rejecting me?  Punishing me?  After a while, I could not longer absorb what he was saying, but each time a new tsunami wave of grief crashed over me, I was grateful for his calming spirit of peace and kindness.  For me, I knew there was nowhere to turn but God, but today, my hope lay on the ground shattered - and why didn't God stop it?   

When my friend Hanne arrived in the depths of the night,  I was completely exhausted and had screamed myself hoarse.  She hugged me.  She made tea.  She said kind words but I have no recollection of what she said except being comforted by her presence.  We sipped tea as I slipped deeper into a numbing shock.  I could not think, I could barely talk.

She was the one that let the police in.  They sat on my couch like we were having a nice little social visit, a man and a woman, dressed in full black uniform.  I stared at their guns and puzzled as to why they needed them to deliver news like this.  I was glad when they finally showed me the police traffic accident report.  I needed to know the story.  How could such a terrible thing happen and who did it?!  But they had only had a few facts, that a male cyclist was hit in Langley, died at the scene and that the driver was charged on the spot.  No details why.  No name of the driver.  But that "male" was not a statistic, he was my beloved, amazing son, Ben.  Benjamin John Farrant.  “They have nothing to tell me, what good are they!  Why did they come!” I shouted in my head as I silently drank tea. 

Hanne locked the door when they left.  I wondered, why bother?  The  most terrible evil imaginable had already come in, and no lock could have stopped it.  She put me to bed and tucked me in like a helpless child.  When I started to weep quietly and she sat down beside me and hugged me.  Exhausted, I fell asleep for a couple of hours.  When I awoke it was still dark.  The nightmare was still true.   

My precious sister Zina had arrived from the far side of the city.  She helped me book my flight from Toronto to Vancouver where Ben was born, had lived and now died.  She helped me pack.  She helped me get to the airport.  We hugged and we cried.  I looked into her eyes and saw sleeplessness, agony and her own broken heart.  She understood that my heart had been so violently torn apart.  It felt like someone had ripped off my right arm and torn out a chunk of my heart with it.  She knew I was broken and hemorrhaging inside.

My beloved daughter, Colleen, and I met a few hours later in the crowded Vancouver airport and clung to each other weeping, while friends and family encircled us in the depth of our pain.  She was a lifeline to me.  My dear family and friends stood under me and held me up with understanding. They grieved alongside us,  loving us and under-girding us in every way that they could.  There are no words that could adequately express my gratitude.  To each and every one, I will never forget your love and concern. 

I am a person of faith and that is how I walked this journey.  God has sustained me and given me back my life since then.   But for a long time, I pounded on His door while my tears seeped under it, trying to understand.  Today, I have some wonderful perspectives which help me.  But, at first I was so very confused and withdrew from God while he drew very near in loving kindness to bind up my broken heart.  I am so very grateful that, as a kind shepherd, he carries the injured lambs in his arms close to his heart.  I have been tucked in there. There is so much more to say about this, enough for another blog.   

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Benjamin John Farrant July 21, 1980 - July 6, 2006.  He poured himself out to serve.  A hero. 

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