That’s traffic deaths this year in Illinois.
On my drive to work there is an overhead electronic billboard put up by the State of Illinois. The next message to scroll through is “Don’t drink and drive”. Followed by a list of minutes to various exits. This is the information I receive in the 5 seconds before I drive beneath the sign. Someone in Springfield felt this is the information I need to know on my morning commute.
On Wednesday it was all the same, except the number was 577.
Five people died between Wednesday and today. Five families lost their loved one. Five mommas’ hearts are now broken.
I don’t know what to do with this information. So I pray for those families. I cry in the car on the way to work. Death was something that was so removed from my day to day existence five months ago. And now I think about it every. single. day. And I don’t necessarily think its bad or wrong that I do. It is part of my life now. One of my children died. I held her as she did so. I got up close and personal with death. Honestly, it was not the scary, horrible experience I would have thought. While it was heartbreaking knowing that she was leaving us, it was also a sacred time. I sensed God’s presence like never before.
Death is a common human experience. Yet in my 33 years of life I’ve had very little experience of it. I think that’s actually rather uncommon from the perspective of all of human history. In this country where I live, in this century I’ve been born to, death, and especially the death of children, is not a common, every day experience. For that I am grateful, so very grateful. There are places in this world right now where the death of babies and small children is the norm. My brain can’t even comprehend that fact. I wonder how those mommas keep going? The same way I wonder how I will keep going…
I know I still have a lot of living to do. And we are living…last night we had pizza and watched the Olympics with the boys. Gabe, especially, is enthralled with the Olympics and the competition and the medals and Team USA. For my part, I’m enjoying it but a little ready for the Olympics to end…but that’s another post. Anyway, we did family stuff and I took pictures and played with Instagram on my iPad (that I got replaced yesterday after my screen went kaput…thanks Apple Care!). But still there are times where I wished it was more “normal” to talk about dying, about heaven, about how sad it makes us that we have to be apart for these days from the ones we love. Cause I feel sort of weird bringing it up sometimes. At the same time, sometimes I wish I didn’t think about all this so much…it hurts!
It hurts to think about how that 582 may very likely climb higher by the time I drive to work on Monday. However, I am reminded of of something I wrote on Caring Bridge back in May.
In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul talks about how this life of faith is like a race, and a long one. We can’t loose sight of the goal. We have one life to live and we get to choose how we spend it…either on ourselves or in response to God’s love for us. And when we are faced with whatever trials come our way, it can be even harder to continue to live trusting God and His love. I am so encouraged by these verses from Romans 5:3-4:
“we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Knowing Jesus and the hope He brings in the midst of suffering and even death…that’s all there is to cling to.