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Thanks and The Patwa Connection

September 8, 2012

Thanks for the tidal wave of support the kids and I have felt over the past couple of weeks of the anniversary of Sydney’s death. I really have been overwhelmed at the magnitude of care I have felt during this time and I know my parents and Sydney’s parents have experienced the same.

I had a special time last weekend sitting back and listening to the audio of Sydney’s funeral, something I haven’t done since shortly after her death. Even though I remember nearly every detail about it, I was impacted once again how God wove the story of her life, and how well it was represented by all who contributed to the funeral sharing and set-up. It is a beautiful and moving tribute, but also a compelling “sermon” of sorts, which affects and changes you to hear it.

Being reminded of this, I want to encourage each of you to find time one evening, or morning, or Sunday if you can’t make church, to listen to it (just scroll down on this page until you see August 29, 2011). The audio quality is pretty good, so try to hook up to some external speakers if you can.

Later in the day, after listening to the funeral, I was reminded of an old song that Sydney and I used to love listening to in high school. It is called “Gulf Coast Highway,” and is sung by Nanci Griffith and Darius Rucker (you can listen to it here). I started laughing when it popped up on my iPod because I remember playing it in the car when we were dating, taking turns singing the duet as if we were performing. This kind of thing was hilarious to do with her because she would get SOOO into it. I can see her now pointing at the windshield with one hand and commanding a pretend microphone in the other.

Anyway, this song, curiously doesn’t appear on her duet album “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” but appears on a lesser known album called, “Blue Roses from the Moons.” Which is ironic because blue rose is the metaphor I used in the tribute poem/song I wrote for Sydney just before she died. Also, the song talks about “blue bonnets” and “the only place on earth blue bonnets grow.” There is another line which says,

“And when she dies she says she’ll catch some blackbird’s wing
And she will fly away to heaven
Come some sweet blue bonnet spring”

I don’t know what this all means, but I have to say that I am more curiously open the perspective of living in a amazing story, which has meaning and connectivity in ways more powerful and detailed than we can imagine. We are living in a masterful painting, in which our lives are simply one unique stroke of one unique color, with unique texture that will never be repeated or duplicated in this painting, or any other that will ever exist.

So is this all connected for meaning? Perhaps, certainly in some way. But it may be nothing like the connections that I have drawn. Living with eyes for the beauty of God’s creation in life and human flesh, and His redemption of us in a fallen world, is like being aware of a new dimension.

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Whether it’s a song on my iPod, or significant life event, God has a persistent, yet gentle way of reminding me that I am in an wonderfully woven story. Of late, the most front and center reminder has been the latest trauma in the lives of my dear friends, Amy and Adam Patwa. For those of you who don’t know the connection, Amy and Sydney became friends, I’m going to guess about five years ago, when they rode up together to a Hope women’s retreat. They quickly discovered that they were two nonconforming nutty women with free spirits and  a lot to laugh about it. They were close almost instantaneously and continued to bond over the next couple of years when they were both, in their early thirties, diagnosed with cancer.

Who would’ve thought that two young women in such a small church would receive such devastating news in a very short time, shortly after becoming friends. So, God began to weave our stories together. Well, just a week ago, the day after the one year anniversary of Sydney’s death, Amy and Adam got some difficult news that her cancer was spreading significantly. So, on August 30th, we gathered in the Adult Ed room at our church for an emergency prayer meeting for them.

Truthfully, I wasn’t even going to go at first. I was so exhausted by the emotions of the anniversary that I was secretly glad to see that we had “Back to School Night” scheduled at the kid’s school; I immediately reasoned that I was already busy. Thankfully, a dear friend gently reminded me that both of my kid’s teachers would be glad to meet with me another time if I would just email them.

Upon reconsidering, I realized, as our pastor Mark had reminded me when he gave me the news, “It is not a coincidence that this is all going down in the same week as Sydney’s death anniversary. God has linked your stories and your families together.” And as I sat in the blue chairs in the Adult Ed room, weeping and praying for my friends who were courageously gathered with us, I thought about the many times we gathered there with Sydney to pray, and the many times that friends gathered for us unsolicited when we were in the hospital. I remember getting pictures taken by smartphones to show us how many people loved us and were praying for us. As all these thoughts and feelings rushed through me, I had the thought, “Why would I ever even think I would want to be anywhere else in the universe now? This is where I am supposed to be. God is using my story and our tragedy alongside theirs. This is part of my story, I am part of theirs, and this is important.”

My heart was heavy again as I spoke to Adam last night, but incredibly full to hear the signs of God’s faithfulness to them in this terrible time. So many amazing ways God has been loving them though the horror of this awful trauma. How can it be? But it is.

Please pray for my friends. You can follow their story at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/amypatwa.

From → Stories

One Comment
  1. Kim permalink

    Todd,

    Chuck and I, as well as our daughter, Sarah, have so appreciated your posts. We appreciate the gift you so generously share in writing about your journey. Your most recent post reminded me of a song by Michael Kelly Blanchard, a singer/songwriter Chuck and I have followed since college days. Know of our continued prayers for you and your family.

    In Christ,
    Kim Millsaps

    The Hand That Paints the Day

    There’s a hand that paints the day.
    As the moments rush.
    And no colors get away from the Master’s brush.
    On His canvas stretched to time.
    All the human hues,
    Blend and blur a design,
    God could only choose.
    There are dreams dabbed in doubt.
    Hopes washed in pain.
    There are broken hearts, that leave a mark.
    A deep crimson stain.
    There is laughter’s motley joy.
    Whispers wet with sighs.
    There are shades of shame, regret’s rain.
    Running from the eyes.
    Stroke by stroke the Masterpiece,
    Grows in gift and grace.
    Till this Love’s last line completes
    The Painter’s tear-stained face.

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