Posted 2 days ago
Over the past month we have had some beautiful reminders of Riley, but nothing seems to top how God allowed Riley to touch Kirk on Father’s Day. While we were in church on Father’s Day I was able to remember my Father, tell him how I loved him and it was beautiful to be able to talk to my dad without him becoming emotional over Riley’s situation. It was almost liberating, since the only emotion I could feel was that of excitement for my dad as he is experiencing the glory of God with Riley. But this thought also made me feel saddened for Kirk as he would experience his first Father’s day without Riley. I prayed that God would allow Riley to touch Kirk in a very special way on Father’s day. God surely answered my prayer even before I prayed it because on the way home from church Kirk received a phone call from Kimmy. Some of you may know Kimmy - she is a rising senior on the ECU soccer team. She has loved Riley and our family over the past few years. She has also encouraged many to support us and our efforts to help others with Riley’s Army. She has entertained and played with our four children often and since Riley’s death she has become a special friend to Paul, Ella, and Ashlyn. Shortly after Riley’s funeral we told Paul we were adopting Kimmy as another big sister and his question was, “When is she moving in?” With this being said, Kimmy called to wish Kirk a Happy Father’s Day. She told us she remembered on Saturday that she would need to call Kirk on Father’s Day. She then explained to us that her father had died when she was Paul’s age and she was very close to him. On Saturday night when she went to sleep she had a very vivid dream and Riley came to her and said, “I’ll wish your dad a Happy Father’s Day for you, if you will wish my dad a Happy Father’s Day for me!” So Kimmy’s Father’s Day call was extra, extra special to Kirk.
Over the past 3 weeks we have been trying to transition back to work which has been difficult, but also good as God reminds us daily He still has work for us to do here on earth for Him. However good God is, this past week has been especially challenging for our family. Although we know Riley is in a great place with God, we can’t help but miss her. We went to Bush Gardens with the other kids this past weekend and it just wasn’t the same without Riley’s vibrant energy. On Sunday evening the kids went to vacation Bible school with some friends. We did well checking in, but when Ashlyn realized she was going to be in a class by herself she melted. She simply did not want to be “without a family member”. The volunteers were kind to allow her to move up to be with Ella and this seemed to correct the problem. Ashlyn’s statement that she did not want to be without a family member has been used by all 3 children regularly these past few weeks. Although others grieve with us and try hard to support us, it is somehow comforting to be surrounded by our own immediate family. We together are experiencing the loss of Riley who brightened our lives day to day and at times even minute to minute. She was and still is a focal point and constant presence of love for our family, but her physical absence, at times, is haunting. With each other we know the extent of loss we are feeling right now without even speaking it to one another-somehow this is comforting. So as much as Ashlyn didn’t want to be in Bible school without family-we too had difficulty returning to work on Monday without family surrounding us.
With love from some special supports, prayer, and the grace of God our pain gradually eased to tolerable by the end of the week. We feel comforted by those surrounding us who are able to talk about Riley with us. It is comforting to us because it is very difficult to talk about Riley without God being a part of the conversation. It is in speaking of Riley and leaning on God that we will gradually be healed.
We were blessed by friends who came on Friday afternoon to entertain the kids. Paul loved the individual attention since he misses that so much from Riley. While the kids played we were able to go and order pictures from a photo sitting done just 2 weeks before Riley passed. Seeing the beauty of our 4 children together in pictures is and always will be overwhelming for us, and we are thankful that God has blessed us with so many perfect pictures that will help us keep our memory of Riley alive.
Of course nothing will keep Riley alive more than our other 3 children. They are who they are because of the gifts they received from Riley-her acceptance, her love, her faith, her example of dying, and her spirit and presence even into death.
The other day I felt like Riley spoke right through Paul. I was feeding the kids lunch and as usual Ashlyn was talking about Riley. She always says how very sad she is that Riley had to die, and how she doesn’t understand why she had to die, and how she wishes Riley was still here. Recently Ashlyn has been having some nightmares and so on this particular day she said that her worst nightmare was that Riley died. I responded by saying that I was sad Riley had died also, but I was so glad God had given us 3 other children to love and that my worst nightmare would be if they all went to Heaven and I was left here. Well, Paul just jumped right in and made me feel like the stupid one when he said, “My worst nightmare is the “H” word”! He was speaking of “hell“. And then he added that his second worst nightmare would be if he had to stay alive on earth forever. Clearly Paul pointed out the TRUE worst nightmare - our denial and absence of God and the inability to obtain presence with Him in Heaven. With this lesson we are so thankful we are not experiencing the worst nightmare and we pray that others who knew Riley will not experience the "worst nightmare" either. John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Thankful for God’s constant presence in our lives, Kirk and Kelly