The Surreal and The Sacred

There are some things that are simply too sacred for words. 

That's how I feel about Kiley's story.  I know that whatever I write, it won't be enough.  It won't sufficiently capture the paradox of pain and beauty that is wrapped up in all of this.  But, I trust you, dear friends, to bear with me through this post.  I have been absent for a while because I know I have to write this.  I know that my heart has to spill this out before I will be able to write anything else. 

I know I have to write it, and I've tried.

I just can never quite do it.

If I tell her story here, it seems so real and so final.  I wish it wasn't.  I have such conflicted emotions about bearing witness to all of this.  There are times when it all feels like a terrible dream.  There are times when the presence of the Lord is so real that it seems like we're about to touch Heaven.  Sometimes it's all at once an honor and a nightmare to experience the unfolding of this thing.  The prayers and peace and the tears and "I can't believe it" whispers are real.  It's just so much to take in.


It was just over a year ago that I was sitting in Kiley's dining room, oohing and ahhing over her four beautiful children and her belly just starting to show #5.  It had been years since I had seen her.  She and Scott were in a Bible study with us in Iowa (back in the day!) when Joe and I were very newly married, and she and Scott were very new parents to sweet baby Aiden.  That night, over dinner, we marveled at the way that God is in the details.  He had established our friendship in Iowa and then arranged for our growing families to be reunited years later, living in the same town in Wisconsin.  God is so good.

We feel so blessed that we have gotten to know Scott and Kiley again.  To be in Bible study together, to worship together at church and with friends, to have our kids laughing together at the park.  They invited us to all kinds of events at our new parish, introduced us to most of our friends here, and we always knew we could call them to ask where kids eat free on certain days of the week.  :)

A couple of months ago, Kiley was sitting in my dining room. We were laughing at the antics of all of our children running around, and she was trying to convince me to hurry up and get pregnant with #4. We talked about parenting and schooling and teaching our kids about Jesus.  I'm so thankful for friendships with depth...when you can talk easily about the things that really matter, and also laugh so hard your sides hurt.  Best combo ever.

This is where I keep getting stuck.  I don't even know how to go about describing the events that led to her going home to the Lord. It's still very new. It was all so unexpected.  Above all, because we are believers, this is very Holy ground.

It was a Thursday morning that Kiley went to kickboxing class at the athletic club. In the middle of class she sat down... and that was it. There was a blood clot in her brain stem. They airlifted her to the UW hospital and did everything they could. We were hopeful, but the third scan showed no brain function.


Surreal is walking into a hospital room, knowing it will be the last time you see your friend on this side of eternity.

Sorrow is hearing brokenhearted friends asking her to stay.

Solidarity is watching your husband reach out for hers...laying hands on him in prayer.

Fatherhood is three praying priests in the waiting room. 

Serene are the moments of remembering her redemption.

Sweetness is listening to the words a husband whispers over his wife in her last hours.

Sacred is the presence of Love Himself in the midst of the weeping.

Stillness is holding sweet baby girl, just four months old, days after we put her mama in the ground.

Heartbreak is hearing a three year old announce "mom's dead".

Healing is watching a community come together, embracing this family in their brokenness. The Body of Christ is alive and well, friends. I am so thankful to have seen Him move, felt His hands at work here.

Hope is hearing God's goodness proclaimed even in the darkest of hours. Heaven will surely gain more souls because of the faithfulness of broken believers.


We prayed for a miracle. Kiley knows how to get people praying.  :)
Sunday, March 3, Kiley got to meet her Savior. 

There is really no way to wrap this up. 

There is a gaping hole in a beautiful family.  There are little ones trying to comprehend eternity and trying to cope with this life without mom.  There is a man missing his other half. 

But the family knows this:
Romans 8:18
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

There is a community struggling, grasping for hope.  But they are a people committed to bringing this about:
1 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and God of all comfort;
 who comforts us in all our affliction
so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction
with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

There is a God who gives and a God who takes.  A God who knows us and loves us.  A God who grieves with us and blesses us with the promise of eternal life.  We have a God who is good and faithful and present and sovereign.

We are in this storm.  And the waves will continue to crash.  But we have this in Him:
Hebrews 6:19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain...

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight...
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

-excerpts from On Joy and Sorrow by Kahlil Gibran

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