Sadness

I’m sure that title goes without saying, but I don’t have a better one for this post. Eight o’clock tonight marked my final moment to say “goodbye” to Stephanie. That’s when the LifeBanc (organ donation) folks wheeled her away. There’s some consolation that lives are being saved, and neither of us would have it any other way. (Though, right now, that consolation is less than I know it will be in the future.) I know if I was on the other end, it would be a vastly different story.

My story is still a horrible nightmare to me. I can’t seem to believe this is happening, let alone to me. Nothing feels real right now. That’s probably a good thing, and probably God’s way of protecting me. It’s going to take some time to know what I’m doing, so a slow progression of realizing what’s actually happening is of great benefit to me, I’m sure.

It’s probably going to be a long night for me tonight, and the next few days likely won’t be better. I want to take the opportunity to thank you all again for your prayers and understanding and patience and kindness over the last days. I also have been encouraged to keep writing. I feel selfish again thinking about that, but I’m not sure what else to write about besides my journey through life. And like I said, I feel that we all do well to share our stories with others to learn from and experience God through them. I guess we’ll see where things lead, if people really want to stick around. Thanks, again, though. I’ll try not to be a downer or a whiner too much.

86 thoughts on “Sadness”

  1. We are mourning for you and my heart aches for you, your babies, your family and Stephanie’s family. I can’t comprehend your pain, but I am praying with an ache in my heart and a desire for miracles to still happen through her story.

    This morning I was reading “Streams in the Desert”, and the entry for the day made me think about your previous posts about God’s miracle for Stephanie’s life.
    “Difficulty is actually the atmosphere surrounding a miracle, or a miracle in it’s initial stage. Yet if it is to be a great miracle, the surrounding condition will not be simply difficult but an utter impossibility. And it is the clinging hand of His child that makes a desperate situation a delight to God.”

  2. Brad,
    Like many of the other people commenting, you don’t know me. I’m from Hartville, and I noticed you said you had some family from the area, which is probably our closest connection. A friend of mine shared your blog with me and I’ve been reading along since last week. There’s really no words I can say to make your pain and sadness go away, but I just want you to know that I have been constantly praying for you and your kids throughout my day, every day. Your faith through all of this truly is amazing and wonderful to see. You have been an inspiration for me and many others I’m sure. It seems that God works in strange ways sometimes, but I know that He has a great plan for you and your family. I hope that you will continue to write and share your story with us, as I will continue to pray for you.

  3. Brad,
    I agree with all the comments above. You have touched me and those I shared your story with more than words can express. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers and I will continue to ride your bus. Thank you for your inspiration and transparency in this most difficult situation. Thank you also for your gift of organ donation. I am a dialysis nurse and work with kidney patients and know firsthand what a amazing gift you have given to others. May our God wrap you in his loving arms and hold you tight in the days to come!

  4. Hi I am melissa I am 13 years old my mom sharon and I have ben fallowing your blog with so many emotions running through our heads for you I am very sorry about your loss. I just wanted to tell you that my father is in need of a liver and I have ben worried sick that he might not make it or might not get it because I have not seen very much improvement in his health and it scares me. But you have shone us what it is like to be on the other side of a liver transplant and how greatful I should be when he gets it your faith has ben an insperation to my little sister who is 8 and i. Last night she called me in her room after she had layed down to go to bed and asked me to pray with her and I did the first thing that came out of her mouth to pray for was you and your family that almost had me I tears so thank you for the insperation

  5. I’m so sorry. The best advice I ever receive when it came to grief was that “it doesn’t get better, it gets different.” As I am sure you know, life was the best when you had her. The pain won’t ever leave. You will always miss her. It will lessen though and fondness of memories will return, always with a twinge of sadness. New memories will be formed, and they won’t be better, just different. Life is different after a loss, and most people don’t seem to understand that. My dad died when I was a teen, and I had several younger siblings. I had the pain of loss myself, but I had a mother who grieved for a spouse. There is a lot of numbness at first. Disbelief where you head is kind of wrapped in cotton. The world feels fake, raw, and pointless all at the same time. Sometime near the end of that first year, when most people expect that you are mostly done grieving it hits you. Holidays suck for the first year. I wouldn’t even do them. Would the kids miss a birthday that much? You do what you need to in order to get by, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. There is no time limit for grief and don’t ever let anyone say that to you. You don’t ever get over it, and certainly not on anyone else’s time. The second year is weird. Not every moment is sadness but there are a lot. You’ve laughed again and genuinely had a good time by this point as opposed to the show you put on for others or the motions you went through previously. As time goes on, there are more moments without the raw pain. It grows less and less. You never forget. You never “get better”. It just gets different. At the end of the day, you have two beautiful babies born of her’s and your DNA. And she is there with you in soul. You will see and hold her again.

  6. Hey Brad,

    Our immediate and extended family are continually praying for you and your family. In the midst of your tragedy, thank you for making the wonderful decision to allow Stephanie to help others through organ and tissue donation. A friend of ours who lost her husband a few years ago recently received word that his tissues and ligaments were able to help some 70-80 people! Praise God for them and I hope and pray that you will see such tangible fruit from your decision when the time is right.

    As someone who benefited greatly from people like you and Stephanie in our time of need just over a year ago, please don’t feel selfish in writing. We read with no expectations… not for you to be strong, to fall apart, to “feed” us (though you often do, through the evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in your words). While we certainly would not want to pressure you to write if you do not desire to, when you do it helps us pray.

    Though we lack any semblance of full understanding, we desire to be with you and support you in your grief. May God hold you up and be your strength!

    Ben & Katie

  7. I wish had words to extend to you that ease your pain. I am amazed at your story and I want you to know that you have touched many people. I can only think of 2 passages in Romans 5:1-5

    Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

    Though I have not endured what you have, this is one verse I always return to. Also Romans 8:18-30 with this verse which I am sure you know well.

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (8:28)

    Focus on Him and His words and He will sustain you through this. And God will do amazing things through you and Stephanie. May God bless you abundantly. Thank you for blessing all of us.

  8. Continue to pray for you Brad and your sweet babies. These days will be hard, they’ll be so loud and busy. Filled with things to do & a life to celebrate. You may not feel like celebrating though. You may feel as if you have water in your ears…with everything muted and a bit hazy because your missing the one you’d normally be leaning on for days like tomorrow and the next.

    I’m thinking of Psalm 62 when David talks about how he felt as if he were in the slimy depths where he couldn’t even stand up…Take Strength in our refuge Brad. Take strength in the Holy Spirit your Great Comforter. In your family & friends. Flipping to Psalm 40, David then writes, “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

    Nobody’s asking you to stand today…but know…slimy pits aren’t where it’s at…Firm Places are where you’re going to end up.

  9. Brad,

    Thank you for sharing so much through your blog. You are very strong to be able to share so much with everyone and keep everyone updated.

    We are so blessed to have known Stephanie. The thing that we remember most about her is that she was so sweet and always smiling!! And what a beautiful smile. She will be missed by many.

    We will continue to pray for you and your family.

    Tony and Jennifer Johnson

  10. Dear Brad,
    I hope you do keep writing. You have been a great encouragement to me in my faith over these last days and keep reminding me of what’s important and what silly things I stress over. If you feel worn out and can’t write for a while people will understand but I sure hope you will check back in.

    ~Gayle

  11. Dear Brad,
    I am weeping with you and your family today. I’m sure that no words of comfort from anyone can salve your raw wounds. John Piper has a poem and cd he wrote and reads himself speaking in 1st person as Job. It is a very short little volume. In the darkest days, weeks, and months of my life, I listened to and read that poem so often. It is brought to life with stunning photography. The title escapes me now, but I’m sure someone can find it at a local Christian store for you. My 19 year old writer daughter said at the time, “What in the world is this incredibly gifted poet doing writing such tedious books on theology that should be simple to understand?” None-the-less,I remain a devoted Piper fan… But while I cry and pray for you today, I shout for joy with Stephanie. For she has entered into the glory of her Master. She is cuddling in His lap, nestled in the shelter of His wings. She could not be more beautiful or happier than she is right now with her savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. I know you know this. And I know that knowing this does NOT take away one single oozing pustule of your pain one bit. But when I fall asleep, I want someone to remember that I will be alive and well in Jesus’ arms…and that I would want my family to be comforted by that reality too.
    Praying for you and your little one,
    Lisa Nieman

  12. Brad,

    I have no mastery of this language that could possibly put together a set of words worthy of your pain. I only post to simply say that I have been and will continue to pray for you and your family. I have wept with you and for you… I am only a friend of a friend but will continue to read, pray and occasionally post to simply let you know that I am praying…

    Shannon

  13. Brad, I’m the mommy of 11 who is Stephanie’s “thorn sister” who just posted 2 above about the John Piper book. This is more for your friends and family to get you than for you to get yourself. So if anyone around Brad is reading these comments, please consider this book instead of flowers. It will give him so much comfort and joy and a palpable sense of God’s ever present loving hand in his life. The book is entitled: The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God. It is hard- covered and comes with a CD of the author reading his own poetry (as all poetry should be read by its own author). It is available from Amazon.com and most any Christian book stores. Again, may the grace and peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with you always. Amen and Amen.
    In Him,
    Lisa, Mommy of 11

  14. My tears are flowing for you and your families. It’s just awful. I’m so sorry this happened. I am praying for you all. May God be your comfort and support in this terrible time.

  15. Brad,
    Let the tears fall and weep like the rain falling. We all are. Feel the pain and anger and helplessness and numbing. Always pray to God for strength, guidance and to be with you. I don’t have verses to quote or want to share my experiences b/c this one is yours. Know when you feel alone surrounded by people that God is there. Thank you for sharing. Sharing your life and Stephanies and the sharing of life TO those you do not know as well as the life you have also GIVEN to people you do not know.

    Our prayers in Atlanta continue for you and your family.

  16. Brad,
    My heart is torn from my chest in pain for you and your children. We don’t know each other, and share no connection other than our Savior Jesus Christ. I’m am praying for Gods mercy, comfort, and peace to overwhelm you the rest of your days as Stephanie will surely never leave your heart and mind.

    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Hard to understand that promise of Christ, but I’m sure He will be faithful to you.

  17. Brad,

    May your beautiful Stephanie fly on the wings of the angels, and rest in the palms of the Lord. I selfishly hope that you continue to write, as you have brought me closer to Jesus Christ. But, as a Christian, I truly understand that you will do whatever gets you and your children through this tough time.

    Love in Christ!

  18. I think your blog is amazingly touching, expressing your emotions in words is a true gift you have. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss my heart just broke for you with each entry. Your children are blessed to have you, peace be with you.

  19. Brad, Anna and I are so sorry for your loss.
    You do not know us. Seto shared with us your blog, and to pray, at Seekers this past Monday. Keep writing.
    Holding you and your family up in prayer.
    God’s Love will keep you.

    Eric Paul

  20. Brad, your writing has touched me deeply. I don’t know you, but I know who you are because you have expressed your love, your faith, your questions and your anger so transparently. Your words describing everything you have gone through have been inspired. Your story has made me reflect on the uncertainty and briefness of our life and that the only thing we can be certain of is God and His love for us. I am re-thinking my advice to my teens regarding career choices, re-assessing my life and my priorities. I long to be more effective in helping others find the connection with God that you demonstrate.

    Thank you for clinging to God through all the difficulties you’ve faced. Thank you for sharing your raw emotion and pain. Thank you for being yourself, a simple God-follower, and being a leader. We can all follow your brave example, in whatever difficulty that might come our way. I know God will not waste this pain and will continue to use your life and your brokeness.

    I pray you will continue to be bathed in His comfort and grace. I pray your children will come to love the Lord Jesus Christ as you and Stephanie did.

    Much gratitude,

    Becky Hastings
    Cape Town, South Africa

  21. Dear Brad,
    I have been praying for you and your family in this very difficult and tragic time. My heart truly goes out to you; our circumstances are different, and if I said, “I know what you are going through” it would be a lie, but I can relate in some small way as my precious husband went passed on to Glory 19 months ago after a painful 13 month journey with a cancer so rare that only 9 people in the world had it at the time. I am missing fully half of me as I continue through this world in my “new normal.” I have not lost my husband; I KNOW exactly where he is, and HALLELUJAH

  22. My heart is breaking for you, Brad. My the Lord grace you with the sme strength and courage in the coming days as you have been blessed with through this tragedy.

  23. Brad,
    Just wanted to say you are NOT a whiner!! You are being honest and encouraging MANY with your faith in Jesus as you walk through this tragedy. So sorry!! May Jesus meet you right where you are at and may you KNOW His goodness and love in spite of your agony. You don’t know me, but I know Scott.
    Warmly in Christ,
    Heidi

  24. Dear Brad,
    I have been praying for you and your family in this very difficult and tragic time. My heart truly goes out to you; our circumstances are different, and if I said, “I know what you are going through” it would be a lie, but I can relate in some small way as my precious husband passed on to Glory 19 months ago after a painful journey with a cancer so rare that only 9 people in the world had it at the time. His pain was such that I couldn’t even hug him for months…After 20 months I was only able to lie in bed with him after he died;the pain was so intense he couldn’t lay down.
    I am missing fully half of me as I continue through this world in my “new normal.” I have not lost my husband; I KNOW exactly where he is, and HALLELUJAH one day I will join him there! But…until then…I cry, I laugh, I wait, I listen to what God has for me to do in the meantime, and I TRUST HIM. I don’t have to like God’s will, or even understand God’s will, but I do have to TRUST it. And I refuse to let satan steal my JOY! If I allow that, he wins this battle. And I am too stubborn to allow that! God does have a plan and a purpose for everything, that we cannot see or understand. All I know for sure is that God WILL use my situation AND YOURS for His Glory. That I know for sure!
    Keep up the writing! It is very good – very good for you (cathartic) and very good for us. We are learning and growing through your willingness to share this journey with us. May God bless you with His Strength and Comfort you with His Presence.
    Blessings,
    Tracie Moore

  25. Brad,
    We have been praying constantly for you from Charlotte. My prayer now is that in the days, weeks and years to come, God allows you to see glimpses of His bigger plan in all of this. I know your heart is for His glory.
    I am praying extra hard for Brady. I have a 3 yr old boy too who I am so close to. I can’t imagine someone having to tell him I’m not coming home. I pray incredible wisdom for you and your family to communicate to and nurture your kids!
    In Christ’s love,
    Jen

  26. Brad,
    I’m sorry I wasn’t able to leave a note before this afternoon, but I am so sorry for Stephanie’s passing. I feel like I caught just a glimpse of her in your posts, and realize how many people both she – and you – have blessed through your lives together. God will continue to use her memory and your life to speak of His glory. Please know that my immediate and extended families are continuing to pray for all of yours and Stephanie’s families. Especially as the initial shock will wear off – it’s when you need the most support. God is faithful and will wrap you in His arms when you need it the most!
    love in Christ, Stephanie

  27. Brad — I do not know you or your family but my prayers go out to you . I have not read all your posts but Stephanie sounds like a very strong, courageous woman who loved you all dearly. May God’s peace help the pain you are feeling

  28. Brad,
    We will continue to pray for you and your kids and your families. Stephanie will live on in your heart and in others…what a wonderful blessing! I cannot imagine what you are going through, but want you to know that we are lifting you up to Him!
    God Bless You!
    Amy (for the Waters/Sopoti clan)

  29. Brad,
    You don’t know me, I attend canton first friends and we have quite a few mutual friends. I just wanted you to know that you have touched my heart and I will be praying for you and your beautiful children. Also thank you for being real. You are not whining or a downer, to me you are strong and courgeous sharing your heart with us. I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  30. There’s no “rules” here, brad. You don’t have to be happy. You don’t have to be upbeat. You don’t have to be inspirational. You dont have to post daily. You don’t have to *do*… anything. You’re giving us a gift by sharing, not the other way around.

    I’ll tell you what’s selfish. Me following your blog like a hobby. Me reading the most tragic episode in your life, then going to play on the Internet. Me watching a brother in Christ crumble, then go lay on the couch for a bit. Me knowing my family needs some help and encouragement, then feeling like I don’t have time because of work + house+ dog. You want selfish? There’s sefish.

    Through the horror of what has happened, you’re giving us a gift that you are under no obligation to give. To me, that’s selfless.

  31. Brad, I am very sorry about loosing Stephanie, but the pain the joy you have brought to people all over the world is amazing. I hope that you continue this journey writing about Stephanie and your children. I talked to my priest last night and he is going to say a prayer in church on Sunday for Stephanie, it again is so amazing how many lives you have touched. You should be proud bringing so many people back to God and maybe that is what God wanted you to do. This blog you have kept will help you and your children I believe understand Gods love. I am very proud of you because I don’t know how many people could do what you have done. Giving all of us a gift!

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