living in between

September 9, 2011

I’ve been blown away by the responses from my last post, and very honored to have read it today as part of the eulogy for my departed brother.  It was a tear-filled day for most of us and now the numbness is setting in… is this even real?  Am I going to wake up now?  I’m sure he’ll just call or text me any day now.  I know I’m not alone in these questions.  Many have expressed this kind of doubtful malaise that sets in after so much emotion and grief.  We still feel this loss but don’t seem able to stay connected to it in any meaningful way.

As hard as it is we should examine our grief rather than waste it.  I seem to recall Jesus asking the question on more than one occasion “why are you weeping?”  Regardless of the context I’m pretty sure it’s a safe bet that he already knew exactly why they were weeping.  It could be that he wanted them to connect deeply with their grief and examine their wounded hearts.  Words just seem so inadequate to express the emptiness and loss.  But why is it loss?  Because love is a reality, even in this broken place.  If we didn’t love Adam this day would have been a great day to simply enjoy the weather and then listen to politicians over promise and under deliver (sorry I guess that’s in their job description).   We do love Adam and that is why it hurts.  In the words of C.S. Lewis: “The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before.  That’s the deal.”  So we have all these memories that are flooding back and bring this strange mixture of joy and sadness.  Joy that we experienced these things and this person, and sadness that we won’t have the opportunity to share them with him again… at least for now.

If we are to have any substantial hope in this life it must be anchored to the next.  Death loses in the end for us because it has already lost to the One it could not keep.  While we give mental assent to this and even sense the longing for it in our hearts we still know the experience of death to be very real.  And very painful.  By faith we see the empty tomb in front of us and that is where our hope rests but we still have the here-and-now to deal with… work, school, bills, even funeral arrangements.  Our experience now is characterized by this tension between the joys of love and the sadness of loss.  Our experience then will have no loss and only the joy of love will remain.   It is in this tension that hope is born, and hope is a painfully beautiful thing.

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.  –Mumford and Sons

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It’s never an easy thing to tell somebody they’ve lost a loved-one but in this broken place it is necessary.  Last night (9/3/11) I received a text message from an old friend that simply read “hey man if u can call me asap.”  Since I hadn’t talked to this guy in probably 15 years or more I thought it prudent to call right away.  He relayed his remorse for having to be the bearer of bad news.  My best friend from childhood and adopted (not formally) brother had just been killed in a car wreck.

Adam Suits (6/1/74 – 9/3/11) is survived by a son, daughter, father, mother, sister and friends.

I make no apologies in that this post is certainly therapeutic as I wrestle with my own feelings and lack thereof.  Not unlike a lot of people I tend to have a delayed emotional response to such losses.  I’m sure that it will take me quite some time to unpack all the emotions and memories I have but I hope this helps.  For those of you that knew Adam I pray that my processing here will help you as you mourn your loss.

From soccer to camping to random acts of insane vandalism, we were inseparable as kids.  Actually that’s not entirely true.  Our parents DID separate us after an incident that provoked a visit from the local Sheriff followed by the FBI (who knew that blowing up mailboxes was a federal offense?!).  I don’t really recall exactly when Adam moved to Greesnboro but we were still very young and since we got to hang out every other weekend and all summer long it didn’t really bother us too much.  We were still able to get in plenty of trouble.

One Christmas I had received a paintball gun from my parents and that night Adam and I wanted to test its accuracy and strength.  So being the genius kids that we were we came up with the bright idea to shoot one another in the back.  Not good!  We had whelps the size of apples but it was something we always looked back on and laughed.

We attended youth groups together at our church and went to summer camps that were very rich and meaningful.  The love of God in Jesus Christ pierced Adam’s young heart one summer and I sensed the change was real and heartfelt.  Yes he had his demons later in life but that doesn’t change what I saw and experienced.  I’m frustrated to a great degree over what may have been for Adam, but I’m also certain that his joy is now complete and his heart is whole.  A few years later Adam would come to live with us full-time and finish high school with me at Trinity Senior High.

Like most brothers do, we got into plenty of fights.  Some were nastier and more physical than others, but we always stuck up for each other.  The summer leading into our Senior year we had attended a party that wasn’t really our “crowd” so to speak.  There were some guys that didn’t really care for my presence (something about me dating one of their ex-girlfriends – mmm high school).  I was never even really in great danger but just the thought of it put Adam on edge and he mouthed off enough that he pretty much scared the other guys senseless before anything happened.  Those of you that knew him know that he was not the kind of guy you want to piss off.  He had this other level to which he could take his aggression and anger and it was palpable to pretty much everyone around… especially if you were the focus of said anger.  While this would be one of his greatest weaknesses in life it was also a means of defending his loved ones and reflected a fierce loyalty.

As people go, Adam was a twisted mixture of virtues such as that fierce loyalty and he also suffered from intense self-destructive tendencies.  He was a talented athlete.  But the same anger and aggression that the football coaches loved to see on the field was the same anger and aggression that caused him to be kicked off the team.

As conflicting reports have come out surrounding his death the few variables that are consistent are:  alcohol, speeding vehicle, and Adam.  Not a good combo.  When I heard that I actually blurted out to my older brother, “that selfish prick!”  In truth it was a selfish act and I’m angry at what that now means for those of us mourning the loss.  I’m mad that I had to tell my mom and my sisters and hear them weep.  In memorial services we tend to only hear the good or funny stories and neglect the whole person.  But we’re called to love the whole person as we are wholly loved in Christ.  You can’t love people in slices. Adam was a great sinner and was a deeply wounded person for whom Christ died.  Seems to me that we do the gospel a disservice by passing over the very things for which we all are in need of a Savior.  So we remember that we too are but dust and are called to faith in the one who overcame death for his own.

The last time I spoke with Adam was about three weeks ago.  He called me to wish me a happy birthday and rag me about being so old… something good brothers do for each other.

I love you and miss you dearly.