Someone told us to go to bed. I thought I would remember every detail. They directed us, my husband, Tim, and I up from our chairs. I remember the look of pity written all over their faces as they gently nudged us towards our bedroom.
The dark in the room enveloped us. Giving into exhaustion, I lay down as he cradled me in his arms. He placed his hand on mine. We had been married now twenty-seven years. The comfort of his embrace was fleeting, to be replaced with grief. Despair mocked me, filling the air around us. We lay there frozen. There was nothing anyone could do to help me. The discomfort left me feeling trapped in my own body. A whirl of thoughts crowded my mind. I didn’t want this; how was I going to carry on now? We lay there catatonic, the only movement were the tears that had formed a puddle, soaking my hair.
I thought over the events of the day: a broken windshield, a fight at the school. I called Toby home. We talked it all over and I felt relieved he was at least confiding in me. He told me he still loved her, his girlfriend of six months, and I thought he would get over their breakup. I thought watching his baby sister would take his mind off it all. It was a Wednesday, May 11th. Toby left to pick up Taylor, his sister, from her Bible school program.
I left for my Bible study. The minute it was over, I received a text from Tim, “Toby left Taylor at home alone.” My stomach tightened, and I knew, I said to myself, “Those pills, he’s going to try and hurt himself.” I went to the sanctuary to pray not knowing where to find him. He could be anywhere. Tim called and said, “Toby’s gun is gone, he took his deer rifle.” I was already in the van, I had picked up one of Toby’s friends and called his cousin, Keegan. He knew him best, maybe he could find him. He did find Toby. It was evening now. When I arrived, Keegan was sitting in the field, rocking and crying with his hands cupped to his forehead. I went to him already knowing the answer, but I had to ask, “Is there any hope?”
I had to call our older girls, I didn’t want to have to tell them, but I had no choice, they had to know. With Tim nearby and the phone at my ear, Ashley, our oldest, answered. I told her they needed to come home, Toby was gone; she said, “No, what do you mean, he’s gone? You need to tell me what you mean.” I took a deep breath, looked over at Tim, and said, “Toby’s dead.” When Abbie heard, she fell to the floor.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I thought back to the day Toby was born. I told Tim he could pick his son’s name. I asked the nurse for a baby name book. Tim flipped through the T names and he came across the name Toby. He said, “That’s it right there.” I read the meaning of his name, “God is good.”
One gift Toby gave me was the gift of brokenness. It left me empty. This is a gift because when you’re empty, God can fill you up. And when God fills you, you’re stronger than before. Now I was walking by faith and not by sight.
I have found that my testimony isn’t a one-time story in a neat little package to sit on a shelf and admire. It’s ever growing each day. Just like the shock waves that shot through the fiber of my being when my child died, they continue to pulse through my veins. Time after time, I have read scripture and devotionals that spoke to my very need at that moment. That is God, he speaks to us.
We all know there will be ups and downs in this life. We are not alone. Suicide is a hard topic. Before Toby died by suicide, when I would hear the word, I would try to forget it as quickly as possible. Now, I feel called to talk about it and make efforts to help as many as I can.
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
In our field of despair, I asked for hope and there was none. Looking back, I have to smile, God was there the whole time. He spoke to me, He continues to speak to me through people, through His word, and through Christian music. I have learned to hear the still, small voice of God. Just knowing that He speaks to me gives me hope. God is in control; He knows the number of our hairs and the number of our days. I’m placing my trust in Jesus.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
My hope is in God’s great love.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
This is only a small part of our story and just the beginning of my hope. I love so many scriptures that have helped me through, but this one really sums up perfectly where my hope lies:
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
God is good.
2018 Northwestern Christian Writers Conference
Faith Radio Crystal Communicator Award Winner