The room felt warm. It was crowded with family and friends, hugging and comforting each other. On the kitchen table was his picture– the 36-year-old son, brother, husband and friend that had died in a plane crash just two days before.
I was sitting at the table, trying to come up with the words to say. I was there to write a story about the man they knew. I was there to ask them questions and hear their best stories of him.
I had pulled up to the house late on Sunday evening, and I hung around in my car staring at the lights in the window. There were several cars parked in the driveway, mourners.
They let me into their home, which has never happened to me before. My stories about the deceased has always been over the phone or from the press perimeter set up at funerals. I’d never seen this side before– the warm room, the pictures.
Mom couldn’t finish a sentence without crying, and one of his brothers never looked up from staring at his hands. We talked for nearly an hour until I got up to leave. I shook hands and exchanged numbers and then something happened. My pen was away. The recorder was off.
They started talking about his best stories, about his greatest adventures. And they laughed.
I saw so many glorious things in all this. The first was the extent of the family’s support for each other, and it wasn’t just family. Friends were there too, and I realized the house wasn’t a house of mourning— which I had thought when I pulled up. This was a house that was loving and comforting and warm.
My prayer is that I’m building a family that is loving and comforting and warm too in all situations. The best way I can do that is by seeking a God who is already all of those things. I see it in my parents and their parents. They were raised and my brother and sister and I were raised to love and to help our family always.
So we can laugh when the vacation plans go array.
So we can find hope in difficult times.
So we can always have a home.
The second thing I learned from that family was that joy cannot be stopped. Three weeks from Christmas, this family would face the holiday without their big brother, without their first born, without their husband, and despite all this, there was laughter in his name.
They remembered what a joy he was and honored him with laughter and memories. Those won’t go away.
If your family is struggling in some way, know that joy cannot be stopped. In this horrible situation, it still prevailed. In your own family, joy will win.
This family let a reporter into their home. I thought I was there to tell a story. Instead, they told me one about family and love that I won’t ever forget.