I got to spend time with a few amazing women today, Pam and Kris. Both Moms whose children died at age 19. Both women who embody something I am calling “Restorative Grace”. Because of Breanna and Andy, these two Mom’s are facing Sunday, Mother’s Day with ‘grace’. They have to love their children in a very different way than most of us. They both use beauty and grace.
Breanna decided (after drinking) to drive, use her phone, speed and did not buckle-up. She died. Andy got into a car with a driver who had been drinking. A head on-collision and Andy is gone. The three of us have been together in the past. Pam frequently volunteers for SCVRJP. Many times, Pam is speaking with the person who was driving in the crash that killed Andy. Kris and Pam share a bond that only people who have experienced the loss of a child can share. What I share with them is a connection to the work of restorative justice.
Both women have lost, the thing Mothers hold most precious, their children, taken from them. Our kids are not supposed to die before us. My own Grandmother sobbed at my mother’s funeral that the greatest pain was losing a child. Sometimes, most times the instinct when we have unjustly had something taken from us, the response is to hold tighter. The response is usually not to give. To give in the face of this tragedy is ‘restorative grace’.
Pam and Kris give. They give ‘restorative grace’. Pam spoke today on her daughter Amanda’s 20th birthday. A bitter-sweet day because Breanna, Amanda’s big sister never lived to see 20, she missed it by two weeks. Kris gives, she shared stories today of interacting with her community, leading her families healing by not being consumed with bitter, angry feelings. Once again, she offered to help out our program.
I stood at the “mock casket” today. I looked over the funeral floral spray, the pictures of a teenage boy, the message “gone but not forgotten”. I started to cry, I told Pam I couldn’t take it. It hurt me, because I know how real the pain is for people who live on, after loved ones are killed in traffic crashes. If you caused it or if it just knocked at your door. The grim reaper takes. He takes life, but the grim reaper, he can’t take love.
Breanna and Andy, these two, they are LOVED with a feriouciousness. Breanna was comfortable when she was laid to rest, she had on her favorite jeans. Andy wanted to give his girlfriend a ride in a truck he was planning to restore. The son he never knew plays with his toys. I know this because of the grace of two Moms. Two Mom’s that know healing means giving, even after so much has been taken, they are giving.
How in the presence of such grace can I do more?
I can easily point to the life changed by restorative justice, my own. I just pray that other lives are touched as well. Buckle up, obey traffic laws, put on your seatbelt, and please don’t drive impaired.