Saturday, June 15, 2013

That night.

So, it has been over a year since I have wrote on here! A lot has happened... graduating college, and landing a job and all sorts of other stuff along the way.  The main part of this post will be a story. A very true story. I want to take everyone with me back to the night of Dec. 30th 2011. I have been meaning to write this all down, but for whatever reason it has not happened till now. Even though a year and a half has gone by, I remember this night more vividly than any other. I want to write it down because I know that as time goes on, I will start forgetting more and more details.

Here we go...

The setting was TCX a conference for college students involved with Cru. In a hotel ballroom filled with almost two thousand people, the energy level was way up there. We were now less than 5 minutes away till the evening session started. I remember sitting on the left side of the ballroom, maybe the 15th row back in the first seat on the left. The Greater Twin Ports Cru claimed their seats. I was excited, but I was exhausted. I was tired of worrying about my mother. I was tired of crying every time I mentioned her situation. But alas, I was hoping that the speaker could bring words of encouragement. The countdown on the giant screen said less than 2 minutes to go. I get a text from my father that says "Call me right now". I make sure my program and my Bible were safe under my seat and then I walk at a fairly rushed pace towards the back doors. I had an awful feeling in my stomach, but I was hoping my dad just wanted to talk about something, you know, not important. I get out of the very noisy ballroom and into the lobby. I call my dad. This part is a bit blurry. All I remember him saying is "Mom's gone." I remember wanting to puke. I remember just pacing and occasionally bending over. I was trying my hardest not to hyperventilate. It took awhile, maybe 40 seconds for the tears to come. My father was trying to comfort me, but I wasn't listening. Never have I felt such a pain. He kept talking and I just kept pacing. The sobs started to come. My good friend Jacob came from behind me not knowing that I just got the news, but once he saw my face, he knew. I hung up. We sat down on some chairs. He just sat there with me. There was nothing to say. I just felt lost. It was such an empty feeling. I cried and he cried with me. I am not sure how much time passed, maybe 20 minutes, but I wanted to go back in. I went back in when the last song or second to last was playing before the emcee would come up. I immediately went over to the Cru staff, Luke, that I was good friends with. While the song was playing I stood next to him. I tapped him on the shoulder. I tried to say "She's gone" or "My mom just died", but I don't think anything came out. He knew what happened. We stood there with arms around each others' shoulders. Just crying. I tried to worship. I tried to sing, but I just cried. After the songs were over I went to sit down. The emcee came out and cracked a few jokes. I remember everyone laughing, but I couldn't engage. I felt like I was in a different dimension just watching everyone. The speaker came out. I grabbed my journal to take notes, but I still didn't know how to actually focus on what was really happening. I just looked around and saw all of the people laughing, joking, smiling, and I just could not join in. I picked up my Bible and I left the ballroom again. I am sure people were watching me as I left, but I didn't notice. I went back to those chairs. I just sat there. I tried to pray. I couldn't think. What was I supposed to think? Minutes later, Luke and Jacob come out of the ballroom and sit with me. They both did not say much and anything they did say never really soaked in. Luke said we should go over to this "prayer booth" It was a make-shift room made out of curtains. Luke knew some, maybe all of the people that were already inside of this booth. He introduced me right away. He told them that my mother had recently passed away. They (one man and two or three women who were Cru staff) looked at me with that "Aw, I'm sorry" face. Luke then had to go back out to the ballroom. It was Jacob and I and some strangers. They asked me questions about when she passed to which I responded "about 40 minutes ago". Their faces changed from that "aw, I'm sorry" face to the "Oh my! I don't know what to say" face. It was obvious they thought that my mom passed away a week or month ago. I am not sure how long we prayed, but I remember talking a lot and I think they did too. What I remember most vividly was the tears. These people just met me, but they felt my pain. All of us had tears running down our faces. I remember leaving that prayer session feeling a little better. At least I was able to talk about it. I went back into the ballroom to hear the very last song. I remember trying my hardest to just let God take control of this situation. At that moment, I felt God and He was near. After the song, I talked with friends, I cried some more, I remember feeling lost again. I wanted to tell them I was fine, but I was far from. I decided after the evening session was over, that I would stay the night and then I would go home. The next few hours consisted of me wandering around not really trying to be social. I was in a lobby with hundreds of people and I just stared at other people and watched their body language. I remember telling Jacob, that I wanted to gather the Greater Twin Ports Cru people together so I could tell them why I was leaving early the next morning. Jacob and others made sure that it would happen. There was a few hours where I just sat down by myself and thought. I may have spoken to a few people, but it was still very hard to focus and engage and to interact. At midnight, I started walking towards the conference room where the people were gathered. Before I got onto the escalator, I ran into Jonny and Danny, two friends that were with Cru that I knew from Ashland. I asked them what they were up to and I remember Jonny saying "We're coming with ya buddy." After we got off the escalator, I went over to the ledge looking down at the floor below. I wasn't sure I wanted to do this. I didn't really want to talk, but I gathered what few thoughts I had and I wiped the tears and went in. I wasn't sure how many would be in there, but it was crazy. Maybe 80 people were all sitting down. When I walked in everyone became silent. I am willing to bet that most everyone already knew what happened. I felt like sobbing again. I tried my best to hold it together, but I saw people already crying. In a very shaky voice I told everyone about my mother and her passing. They then prayed over me. It was wild to have so many people surrounding me literally in prayer. I remember hearing lots of sobbing. It was an amazing prayer session though. I felt God again. He was there. After we prayed, which probably took 15 minutes at least, many people gave me hugs and words of sympathy or encouragement. That night, I don't think I really slept at all. That night my world was forever changed. I can now talk about this story and be somehow encouraged. That night shaped me. It sucked, a lot, but I am stronger from it. God knows. I was blessed to have such amazing support.
I feel relieved. I have finally written this story down. If any more details come back, I may add them.



  1. I know you told me this story when we met up earlier this year, and I still honestly don't know what to say. I am so incredibly sorry for what has happened, but man Sean, to see how the Lord is working through this experience in your life is amazing. You have chosen to see the light in a very difficult situation, and that takes a lot of strength. I think it was important to write this down as part of the process, and I hope you feel peace with it. Much love, and prayin for ya.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement and prayers. I think I feel as much at peace with it as I can right now. Thanks for being a solid friend.

  3. I feel your pain Sean, I truly mean it. I am so thankful that you had good friends with you when you received that call. Sometimes it's not the words that they say, but holding you and crying with you. Or just listening or being there. I think of you often as well as your family. I remember your mom's last conversation with me at the garage. She was such a strong woman. I asked how she was and she replied after nodding her head, "I'm o.k. It will be o.k." I vividly remember her look in her eyes that day. I think she was more concerned for her family than she was for herself. But her smile and laugh seemed to make everything o.k. with our conversation. Thank you for sharing this intimate part of your life with us. <3

  4. Hey Sean. Here is the journal entry I wrote that night - verbatim. I thought I'd share it with you as you might be interested and encouraged...

    Dec 31, 2011 - 4:44am
    Minneapolis, MN

    Here at TCX and it is early morning on the last full day. Last night about 7pm Sean's mom died. I've never cried for the sake and hurt of someone more than in the last 9 hours. It's been a whirlwind of emotions. The whole GTP team came together at midnight and prayed for him. To see the love of Christ expressed in such a way was epic. I have been so floored lately by God's grace. About an hour ago a group of students and I led a random guy named Sean to Christ. One of them shared the Gospel and I gave him a bible and a John Piper track. I have to call my dad in about 2 hours so he can come get us and then I am spending my morning driving Sean to Menomonie so that he can get home asap. We hope to be on the road by 8am. We will need God's gracious and abundant provision in the next 12 hours. I have so much more to write but I desperately need to read my bible and spend time with my Lord.