Mike Cope's blog

Monday, January 16, 2006

I got caught Saturday. During the previews before "Glory Road," Chris glanced over at me and saw big, fat tears falling off my face. He asked, "Hey, Dad, why are you crying?" To Chris, no preview could justify those tears -- unless they were tears of joy for the release of the next Bourne movie or perhaps a discovery that King Kong II was being filmed. I gave him a short, brush-off answer. It wasn't the time or place. But what I wanted to say was: Because we're here. In the dark. In this theater. And you're sitting next to me. All week it's been coming, and now that we've slowed down and you're sitting next to me, the dam burst. Because you could have died a year ago. Because I can still hear your mom sobbing, "O God, please not again." Because you were beaten beyond recognition. Because we heard the Bourlands crying out in the hospital when they were told that Brody had died. Because I can still remember those nights in ICU at Cook's with the Bennetts and the Lemmonses. Because I held my breath for 48 hours, waiting to see if you'd breathe on your own. Because Jon Westin's still on crutches. But also because you're all right. Because you didn't have to stay in that wheelchair or that back brace. Because I saw you play football this fall, and because you're playing point guard now. Because you're an incredible young man who is loved by your peers and by all younger kids. Because we're back to wrestling. Because the five of us got to hike all over the mountains of Colorado this summer. And because I can lose to you every day in P-I-G. Because of how close we feel to the other families impacted by the wreck. Because of our love for Sarah, our beloved youth minister, who on the sixteenth day of her first fulltime ministry had to break the news to me and who has been an amazing help to people--with maturity way beyond her years--the past twelve months. Because of the Highland church (like the hundreds who came to cry, hug, pray, light candles, and remember last night). Because of Scott B.'s pastoral care, as we met with the six of you (Beth, Amara, Chris P., Austin, Jon Westin, and you) on Wednesday nights for several weeks after we were all home from the hospital to help you process the tragedy. Because of our spiritual family all around the world who prayed for you and the others (as still partially recorded on my 1-16-05 blog). Because I can still feel your brother's hug when we met at Cook's after he flew from Houston and I drove from Abilene (since only one parent could fly with you and it would have gotten ugly fast if I'd suggested to your mom that she not get in that plane!). Because I still remember Jenna's tears as she cared tenderly for you--her brother-in-law for only seven months at the time. Because Dr. Jim loaded up and drove to Ft. Worth to watch over the three of you and your families himself (while letting those ER docs do their jobs). Because one of our elders, a physical therapist, came over to hold you steady while you showered and carefully bound back up your wounds. Because another of our elders, a teacher at Lincoln at the time, met you to help you up and down the stairs. Because there's no better sight for me than seeing you and your brother playing together--catch or basketball or Play Station--when he's home. Plus, sometimes grief gets confused. And I still cry about Megan. That would have been the long answer. But no seventh grader wants to hear that with a bag of popcorn and a great sports movie coming on. Thanks so much for your prayers for our church this past year.

34 Comments:

  • The events of the past year have brought us all on an incredible journey as the Lord has granted the larger Highland family opportunities to serve, bless, comfort, mourn, and encourage the six precious families that were involved in the accident. We went over to the Bourlands house on Saturday afternoon and Jennifer said that even though it has been a year, even though there are still days when she is walking in grief, she just doesn't want anyone to forget her precious Brody. I think our entire body will always remember the increidble young man that he was and that God was forming him to be an anointed warrior for His kingdom! I love you Mike and I thank God that Chris is still with you.

    By Blogger Lauren, at 1/16/2006 05:54:00 AM  

  • Tears are for sure an appropriate expression for many different reasons as one reflects on the events during the past year.

    Blessings on your family and the others who were involved who are reflecting on the one-year anniversary of the accident.

    By Blogger FeedingYourMind, at 1/16/2006 06:43:00 AM  

  • It is a blessing to be able to journey with you and the others in your openess and vulnerability. I am constantly humbled by your honesty and your God given ability to connect words to your emotions.

    May God continue to give each of the families involved in this life changing event more than what they need...

    By Blogger Donald Philip Simpson, at 1/16/2006 06:51:00 AM  

  • Mike - Today I rejoice with you and Diane and the families of Jon Westin, Austin, Chris, Beth and Amara as you hover close and hug tighter. And I think of Brody, a young man I didn't really know but had observed over the weekend last year in a group of 6th graders playing jokes on each other, a young man whose life has had a very positive impact on so many of our kids - kids that will never forget Brody Brett Bourland, not in their lifetimes. Neither will I as each year progresses, he will forever be a part of our lives and our spiritual journey. And, yes, we love Sarah. She is amazing.

    By Blogger Candy, at 1/16/2006 06:54:00 AM  

  • I wanted to leave it up to Sam to go or not to go to the Lament service last night. Andrew Lang asked him if he was going and he said yes. I am so glad he did. Sam wasn't that close to Brody except for the fact that he played with him in the pool at Winterfest, and watched Brody go forward to commit his life to Jesus. I looked over at Sam last night, comforted by sweet Chris Lair, with his head in his hands just weeping. Someone once told me that someone said we should just move on or ask why are they crying when they didn't know Brody that well. The tears were so much more for our youth and our Highland family. As each one fell into my arms last night I told them that they will never get over this, that they will be reminded of it at the strangest times but that it gives them a depth and a compassion for others like the compassion I have witnessed in yours and Diane's hearts. How beautiful to see our youth huddle around the Bourlands last night.
    I am so glad Sam said he'd like to go because it was truly beautiful and incredibly moving.

    By Blogger Beverly, at 1/16/2006 07:30:00 AM  

  • Chris (and your other children) are so blessed to have a dad like you. And we are so blessed by your words again and again. Thank you for showing us how a father grieves.

    By Blogger Amy, at 1/16/2006 08:10:00 AM  

  • God be with you.

    By Blogger Snapshot, at 1/16/2006 09:01:00 AM  

  • Mike-

    Thank you for your raw honesty. What a testament to the vulnerability each of us has. I'll send up a prayer of thanks for Chris today.

    By Blogger Chris Field, at 1/16/2006 09:02:00 AM  

  • Remind me not to read your posts on my study day...

    Now I'm crying.

    On second thought...

    Remind me to read your posts on my study day.

    I need the tears.

    I still remember holding you in the parking lot and all the other other events that you accounted.

    God has painted the canvas of our lives with colors of tragedy and colors of triumph over the past year.

    Some days I don't know if he knows what he is doing. Most days I know that it will be beautiful. Everyday I thank Him that He is the painter and not me.

    I'm glad the strokes of our lives have bled into one another.

    You and your family are loved by me and my family.

    Always will be.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 1/16/2006 09:10:00 AM  

  • Mike--
    Posts like this will be worth GOLD to Chris some day. Thank you for your example. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you for showing us all that life is hard sometimes and that's ok. Thank you for loving your kids and Diane like you do. I love your family dearly. I'm so, SO grateful for God's provision for you this year.

    By Blogger Brandon Scott, at 1/16/2006 09:51:00 AM  

  • You are far more than welcome for the prayers. We (I at least) thank you for the ways you have ministered to so many and made much of God in the process.

    By Blogger TCS, at 1/16/2006 10:25:00 AM  

  • Mike, I've long thought that there is a close relationship between great theology and poetry. Your blog today was poetry of the heart. It reminded me of C.S. Lewis's poem that begins, "Love's as warm as tears, / Love is tears." On 27 November 1994 I offered a communion meditation at Highland Church, which I called "Tears at the Table: A Communion Meditation for Mike and Diane Cope." Your blog today reminded me of what I wrote back then, as I thought of your pain as we gathered at the Table: "Tears are peculiar things. They are tiny memorials to pain. They are telescopic instruments which help us see our future. . . they are seeds of hope." I see all these things in your message today. Tom Lutz, author of "Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears," says that "Tears are the most substantial and yet the most fleeting, the most obvious and yet the most enigmatic proof of our emotional lives." He adds, the "prohibition against male tears . . . only takes center stage in the middle of the 20th century, and event then it was not fully observed, as we can see in the weeping of film stars and crooners." Thanks for the humanity, the passion, and the faith that you transmit to us all through your own tears of grief and joy. Darryl Tippens

    By Blogger Darryl's Reflections, at 1/16/2006 10:32:00 AM  

  • We in Fresno remember how much we were looking forward to seeing you, learning from you...and then how we felt like we got punched in the gut. The wind was knocked out of everyone here (Eric was already here) when we heard about the accident. We wept and prayed for you and for the other families. And the ZOE conference was a chance for us all to pray and be together while we waited for news.

    We can't wait to see you all again. And while we know that others still suffer and grieve, we rejoice in your healing and relief. Let's pray some more when you get here.

    By Blogger Thurman8er, at 1/16/2006 10:42:00 AM  

  • Mike, I love you.

    By Blogger Larry James, at 1/16/2006 10:45:00 AM  

  • Mike, thank you so much for your words. Not only do THEY comfort me, but so also did last night as well.

    I must admit that my first emotion is anger, raw anger, when a tragedy involves a child[ren]. Last night helped calm that anger for the Highland kids' families, especially for the Bourlands. It also helped soothe the anger for a dear friend, young widow with a 5-year old daughter [dad died of a cardiac aneurysm 3 years ago], killed by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve as they were returning home from church services.

    Little 5-year old is still in the hospital, but seems to be improving. The doctors have not wanted her to be informed of her mom's homegoing right how. They feel the shock could throw her back into coma. My candle, therefore, was not only for my loved ones here at Highland, but also for this little girl and her remaining few family members.

    Thank you for last night, thank you for your gentle words, thank you for your loving heart that you share so generously with all of us.

    May there be blessings upon blessings poured out on all that grieve this day.

    Thank You, Jesus.

    By Blogger Kathy, at 1/16/2006 11:03:00 AM  

  • Mike-I carry you and your family close to my heart today. I love you.

    By Blogger Josh Ross, at 1/16/2006 11:22:00 AM  

  • Your family, the Bourlands, and all of the others involved remain in our hearts.
    Are you familiar with the Bob Carlyle song "We Fall Down?"
    I guess it is really about getting back up after failures, but I think it is encouraging for heartache, too. I just kept thinking about that song last night.
    May the Lord hold you all.
    With love,
    The Moores

    By Blogger cathy moore, at 1/16/2006 11:36:00 AM  

  • Pain. Fear. Incredible strength through weakness. Blessings. Comfort. Tears. Grief. Love heals your heart.

    By Blogger Paul, at 1/16/2006 11:41:00 AM  

  • Nothing to add but my name,prayers,love and thanks to the list of all those who mourn and rejoice with you and yours as you remember the horrible wreck last year. I hope knowing that there is a huge community of people who love and pray for all those in the wreck somehow helps. Thank you so much for sharing the full process with us.

    By Blogger SG, at 1/16/2006 12:17:00 PM  

  • Psalm 56:8 says your tears our listed on God's scroll (NIV). Other versions say that your tears are stored in a bottle. I like that one & I think in heaven He will turn your tears into a heavenly ointment & pour them over your head. Thank you for sharing from your heart. It blesses me (& others too!)

    By Blogger Beaner, at 1/16/2006 01:10:00 PM  

  • Not sure where this came from, but it powerfully spoke to me this week.


    If I knew it would be the last time that I'd see you fall asleep
    I would tuck you in more tightly and pray the Lord your soul to keep.

    If I knew it would be the last time that I see you walk out the door
    I would give you a hug and kiss and call you back for one more.

    If I knew it would be the last time I'd hear your voice lifted up in praise
    I would video tape each action and word so I could play them back day afer day.

    If I knew it would be the last time I could spare an extra minute or two
    To stop and say "I love you", instead of assuming you'd know I do.

    If I knew it would be the last time I would be there to share your day
    Well I'm sure you'll have so many more, so I can just let this one slip away.

    For surely there's always tomorrow to make up for an oversight
    And we always get second chances to make everything right.

    There will always be another day to say our "I love you's"
    And certainly there's another chance to say our "Anything I can do's".

    But just in case I might be wrong and today is all I get
    I'd like to say how much I love you and I hope we never forget.

    Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, young or old alike.
    And today may be the last chance you get to hold your loved one tight.

    So if you're waiting for tomorrow, why not do it today?
    For if tomorrow never comes, you'll surely regret the day

    That you didn't take that extra time for a smile, a hug, a kiss
    And you were too busy to grant
    someone, what turned out to be their one last wish.

    So hold your loved ones close today, and whisper in their ear
    That you love them very much and you'll always hold them dear

    Take time to say "I'm sorry", "Please forgive me", "Thank you", or "It's okay"
    And if tomorrow never comes, you'll have no regrets about today.

    By Blogger Brad, at 1/16/2006 01:32:00 PM  

  • This took my breath away. Prayers for all!

    By Blogger David Michael, at 1/16/2006 04:37:00 PM  

  • You know, I didn't cry last night...until I could see that Diane was crying. But the tears were comforting and healing to all of us. I needed to cry...I think we all did. It was a way of sharing our grief and hope together, as others have so eloquently said in their comments. It was a huge blessing to me to be able to wrap my arms around Chris and hug him close as the memories of my scared and tearful prayers for him a year ago ran through my mind.

    Also, I have a confession to make. A couple of years ago, I began saying "drive-by prayers", where I pray over the houses and offices and churches of my loved ones as I drive by. I was in my parents' neighborhood this afternoon a little after 1:00, and I decided to drive by your house and pray over it. When I saw all the cars there, I wondered what was going on. Then I saw the Bennetts drive up and all four of them got out with Chris. That was when I realized that all the families involved in the wreck were meeting at your house together. My prayers became even more fervent and heartfelt as I prayed for God to spread his comforting and healing presence over each one of you gathered there. I pray that special time today was a blessing to you all, and I'm so glad I just happened to be in the neighborhood. I love you soooooooo much!!

    By Blogger Heather A, at 1/16/2006 04:55:00 PM  

  • Thanks so much, Heather (and others). It's been a good day. The families of the six children who survived the wreck met at noon with the Bourlands (along with their family and other friends) at Brody's grave. Then the six families, who met at our house every Wednesday after the kids were out of the hospital for a couple months, came here to process the year. Tonight many of us went to the AHS soccer game where Taylor, Brody's older brother, was playing. The four boys--Chris C., Chris P., Jon Westin, and Austin--were ballboys, along with Brock, Brody's younger brother.

    By Blogger Mike, at 1/16/2006 06:52:00 PM  

  • Mike... Tell him. Believe it or not, those are some of the greatest things a dad can tell his son. I know. I'm not a dad but I am a son. I'm 22 years old and neither of my parents are Christians. I remember the first time my dad told me he was proud of me... It was at Denny's a year and a half ago that he told me he was proud of the man I was growing to be. This Christmas break I went home and over coffee at Starbucks he told me that he loved me. It is the first time since I was 13 and since my parents' divorce that I can remember him saying it without echoing me as we hung up the phone.

    By Blogger Ryan, at 1/16/2006 06:52:00 PM  

  • Mike, thank you for not letting us forget, even when remembering is painful. Highland has a part of my heart that no other congregation does. It always will.

    By Blogger TKP, at 1/16/2006 08:57:00 PM  

  • I remember hearing the news a year ago that a vehicle from Highland had been in a wreck, and Chris just popped into my head. Found out later he was indeed involved and injured. I still picture him as a blond-haired two-year-old running up and down the halls with Steve Hare. Praise God for the healing that has happened and that is to come.

    Mike and Diane -- I've been needing to hug you for a year. I don't know when I'll see you next, but when I do, watch out because it will be a full frontal attack.

    By Blogger Deana Nall, at 1/16/2006 09:02:00 PM  

  • Mike, I was away this weekend but thought about all of you. This past year at Highland the Spirit has been moving...evident in so many ways...courage displayed, tears spilled, arms wrapped around each other, walking forward but slowly just to make sure that we are still arm in arm. I pray that the Spirit continues to guide our family.

    By Blogger julie, at 1/16/2006 09:05:00 PM  

  • I was impacted at NCYM by this tragic story. What is amazing is seeing God work in this and in you.

    Here in the NW, it's a bit of a frontline in the battle for the Kingdom. We need to hear stories of faith like yours and others. There is no way anyone involved with this story could have gone through it alone and survived. It is proof God is alive and well.

    Yet, even in tragity, God is still faithful and He is a strong tower.

    peace.
    johno~

    By Blogger Johnathan M. Thomas, at 1/16/2006 09:29:00 PM  

  • wow, I would be crying too. I am so glad that god intervened in this. I did not know you when this incident occurred, but I am grateful that this brought everyone together in prayer.
    Heather

    By Blogger wondering04, at 1/16/2006 09:49:00 PM  

  • What a blog.

    By Blogger Tommy, at 1/17/2006 06:36:00 AM  

  • Mike,

    You have a heart of God. What you describe to us is like a parable to me. Now, I picture God sitting with His Son, Jesus, in tears. Imagine Jesus asking His Father, "Daddy, why are you crying?" His words, as it seems?

    "I almost lost you for eternity when you prayed to me on Mount of Olives. I ached when they scorned and scarred you. I held onto my breath when they pierced you on the cross. Then angels were ready to go but I held them back. Remember the earthquake? It quaked from the drops of my tears. But, now, you're here on my right side."

    Like Father, like Son. Bless your heart for sharing this with us.

    By Blogger Mark Lowenstein, at 1/17/2006 04:46:00 PM  

  • Thank you.

    By Blogger Tracy, at 1/18/2006 09:14:00 PM  

  • Mike, thanks for blessing me with this post. I sat with one of my daughters last night at Downtown and had the same tears of joy for having her with me.
    Keith

    By Blogger Keith, at 1/19/2006 09:16:00 AM  

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