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A mother loses a son: Sharing gratitude in grief

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By Brandall Atkinson/Guest Column

Two weeks ago today, God took the youngest of my four children home.

It is a phone call no mama — no parent — ever wants to receive.

The events of that day and the days afterwards swirled around me like a tornado showing no mercy for anything that fell in its path.

But in that storm, there were breaks in the clouds.

People from near and far, people I knew and did not know, began to pour out love and support over me and my family.

The Oxford-Lafayette community turned out by the hundreds to show their respect for a life well lived, though short, fully lived.

I always said Walker was a 70-yearold trapped in a 10-year-old body. He was an old soul.

As I have come to understand, these words spoken to me by persons near to my heart, my child’s work on earth was done.

He lived 70-plus years in his brief 14 on this earth. He touched and impacted more lives and people than I think I ever would have known had this sequence of events not happened.

As I looked into the faces of those who attended his services, my heart ached, but was also full.

He was loved. Not just by his Mama, but by hundreds of others.

I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in the plans God has for our lives, for my life and in His promises.

I am not angry at God for scooping up my baby and bringing him home.

Do I wish he was still across the hall tucked safely in his bed waiting for me to wake him up each day? Absolutely I do.

Do I wish he was walking in the door, with his cap on crooked, to tell me all about the adventures he and Booger had on the farm that day?

More than I have words to explain, I do.

Do I wish to see those beautiful blue eyes and brush that mop of hair out of them again?

I will long for that all the days of my life.

But God knew the number of hairs on his head and also knew that on Aug. 28th at 6 p.m, He was taking my child to Heaven. That was Walker’s day.

His time here with me and everyone else was done and nothing and no one could have changed that.

It is easy to think what if I had done this, what if I had done that, what if, what if, what if, but that would have made no difference.

As a Christian, I am called to believe in God’s plan and His purpose in our lives and by believing as I do, I have to accept God’s will in my life.

I have to accept that He has reasons for taking my child to be with Him.

I have to accept that I may never understand those reasons fully.

As a Christian,

I am called to believe in God’s plan and His purpose in our lives and by believing as I do, I have to accept God’s will in my life. 

I also have to accept and embrace the good that comes out of my loss.

Walker J laid the groundwork, in his 14 years, for many things that I am only beginning to comprehend after he went to see the face of God.

His presence in my life has put me directly in the path of some of the best things that will ever happen to me. (and that is not easy to say, but I believe it is all part of God’s plan that his loss will never be in vain).

The friendships born in the face of tragedy, the support shown to my children by friends and teachers and family, the awareness that life can be short and we need to live each day as if it’s our last-just like Walker Joyce did.

There are many, many dots I have yet to connect, but I do know that God is weaving a beautiful and exquisite tapestry out of this loss.

He is bringing people together, He is bringing communities together, He has His hand in everything related to this and my child’s death will never be in vain because of that.

His life’s purpose will live on long past his earthly presence did.

There is no way to thank all of the people who have come to mine, my children’s and my family’s side during this time.

The generosity that has been shown to us over and over, the calls, the texts, the visits, the meals, the army of people who have cared and cleaned and cooked, the memorials, the tributes and mostly the prayers.

Without those, we would all be lost. ‘Thank you’ will never be adequate to express my gratitude to each person who has touched my life during this time.

I ask that you keep us all in your prayers for as long as you feel called to do so.

I would also ask that you share with me how Walker J touched your life, a story or a photo, whatever you can share with me, I would love to hear and see.

These things are hard right now, but will comfort me in the days and years to come, so please don’t be afraid you will upset me.

I want to talk about him; I want to keep that light shining as brightly as his light was when he walked this earth.

Now I have a new chapter to create. God is guiding the pen.

I close the door to the past and open the door and step through to the future and begin this new chapter surrounded by more love and support than I could ever possibly conceive of and the most beautiful guardian angel I could ever know watching over me.

“And the Lord said, ‘Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’” -John 14:27

BRANDALL ATKINSON is the mother of Walker Atkinson, who died in August.