Still Standing

When I last lived in Kona I was grieving the loss of our South Carolina farm and all the hopes and dreams we planted there.  I ended up spending all my free hours sitting under a certain tree at Old Airport Beach. I had no words for my disappointment so I just sat there soaking in God’s beautiful creation and learning to be quiet in his presence.  I began to refer to it as my “office” and my friends knew they would find me there. A few days after the life altering phone call brought the news our precious son had just died in an accident, I began to long for my tree in Kona.  I knew I needed to sit under it’s shade again, the tree where I learned to grieve with God. 

This sweet and ornery little boy brought so much joy to our lives. We watched him grow into an amazing man. There are no words to describe the pain of losing him.

Two weeks after Caleb’s death, still numb with shock and heavy with the weight of pain my daughter in law, children and husband were suffering, I flew 2800 miles with the hope i would find some solace in my special spot.  I only had three and a half days and very little emotional energy, so I planned to focus on alone time and declined most visits with friends (Scott stayed home in order to be present for our children).

My bestie and her husband picked me up at the airport curb, chucked my carry on in the back seat, handed me a water bottle and a baggie of healthy snacks and headed straight for the beach.  They understood the mission.  We were dismayed to find all the beaches closed due to high surf.  Turns out I arrived on the heels of Hurricane Darby; Darby didn’t hit the Big Island, but remnants of it caused the biggest waves I had ever witnessed in Kona.  The surfers were delighted but I was quite disappointed -I had been looking forward to snorkeling in my favorite spots as a break from grieving.  (Thankfully the waves calmed enough for a quick snorkel the last day:)

 We managed to hike over a path of boulders to a beautiful ocean view and carefully sat out of reach of the giant, gorgeous waves.  The ice in my heart (that’s what shock felt like) immediately began to melt into tears.  This afternoon was a warm up for three full days of quiet, grieving, soaking- whatever my heart needed.  I was grateful for the generosity of my husband and friends who made this time possible for me.  

The next day (Monday) all the beaches were still closed, so i found some other trees on the sea wall to shade me as I processed and cried.  I woke up Tuesday anxious to get to ‘my’ tree, so I trekked  along the rocky coastline to find it (beach was still closed so I couldn’t park nearby).  There was a fair amount of habitat destruction from the storm, so I should have been prepared for what I found, but I wasn’t.  I retraced my steps to make sure I was in the right place; my tree was almost unrecognizable.  All the large lava rocks that used to ring it were gone, along with all the other plants and most of the sand.  Its roots were laid bare, curling unprotected in the open air, vulnerable tender parts naked for all to see.  The sight took me to my knees. I was staring at the state of my heart.

she’s in rough shape (PC Anoushka A)

Despite the ravaging damage, she’s still standing.  Still upright, in the same place she stood before the storm stripped away the earth beneath her.  She’s still alive and there appears a possibility she will continue on. I don’t know how, she must have extremely deep roots, invisible to the eye.  More likely, she’s being held up by the Father’s merciful hands.  

But she’s still standing (PC Anoushka A)

Maybe the ocean will eventually bring back some of the sand it stripped away.  Maybe she will learn to adjust to the barrenness.  Maybe her shape and function will be forced to change in order to live with her new conditions.  However the story continues, I pray she continues to stand as a testament to the goodness of God and His loving presence.   

24 Replies to “Still Standing”

  1. Going to Kona to Talk Story seems so right. Kona is so much a part of who you are..I understand that. And yes, your roots have been laid bare..exposed…vulnerable. And your right, in time the sand will come back..you will heal but not be the same. We can never be the same when our heart is broken. I love the story of how the Japanese mend broken pottery with gold..Kintsugi..golden joinery. Instead of hiding the breaks they emphasize them with gold dust mixed with tree sap. The related philosophy of wabi-sabi…seeing beauty in the imperfect …is a difficult idea for me to embrace. Why can’t life be perfect? I’m still working on this one as I struggle to embrace my own imperfections. Enough philosophical rambling. I love you and your family and I know that you know how many of us weep with you and Scott and Erin and all those who loved and cared for Caleb….he will be missed forever.
    Im always here…call me or visit when you need to.

  2. God knew you had to see the beautiful tree. The tree, as all of you,
    have endured so much pain. BUT the tree is still standing. You are to. Things will never be same but, like the tree, we are forced to change in order to live with the new conditions. God is with you as always and forever. May God Bless you All. We love all of you and pray unconditionally.

  3. Wow, as per normal your expression are so heart felt. Thank you for sharing them.
    So grateful you were able to find some time in Kona. May the Father continue to navigate your healing in powerful ways.
    We continue to pray as you Scott and the kids navigate your now.
    Tom & Nan

  4. You continue to stand because your faith(roots) are so deep in your creator. Love you Lalena, wish I could give you a hug, take your pain away. My heart breaks for you and the family.Sending hugs and prayers

  5. Lalena you are that tree, bare but still standing. I am weeping with you too . Thank you for writing in falling forward !

  6. I love how your Daddy met you in the midst of your grief in such a way so intimate, precious and special to your heart. Keep holding on precious friend! He will continue to encounter in the valley.

  7. God is going to bring you and your family to the mind of your friends, and the saints that have know the seasons of your lives. They will pause and lift you and yours up in prayer, send a note, or a message.
    You are not alone.
    Your gift with words and writing it down is heartbreaking and healing at the same time. Much love, precious Lalena.

  8. I drink in your words of hope and find comfort in my own troubles, knowing He is my forever friend , holding on to His hands of Mercy. I love you dear friend!

  9. I love how you use your gift of emotional insight for others to journey with you through the pain. It is healing. Thank you.

  10. I’m so glad you had time and space and support to go and soak your soul. Your words, pictures and analogy are so appropriate to the grief and loss. Constantly praying and thinking of you, Scott and your family. Much love to you.

  11. Such a beautiful message and touching observation, Lalena. “Still Standing” has become my motto – my anchor – as I ask only that ‘God take my hand, and show me the way.” And, He always has – even when my eyes were too blind to see, and my heart shattered in a million pieces. In peace, love, and light♡
    ~ Cindy Bergeson

  12. Lalena… God surely brought that storm even before you got there knowing you’d be there soon. Oh how magnificent is God to prepare a way for you and then to meet you there in the most raw time of your heart to show you that by His amazing grace you’ll make it through this and continue to stand even though you don’t know how. Oh His unfailing love never fails. You are HIS. He’s gotchya!! Grace-grace to you and your whole family!♥️♥️♥️♥️
    Marnie Hazelaar

  13. When your heartbroken every sound on the radio is a love song. The sad ones hurt and the beautiful are felt to the bone. When you turn the channel to escape the sound, another sweet love song :(!

    Thank you Jesus for Caleb, this family, and my sister-in-law’s sweet and beautiful tune.

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