Click

What can you see in  this picture? Rijen and I standing in front of our house in Austin, Texas.  We are smiling, I’m excited and although we are sad to be leaving Austin and each other, I think both of us are ready to move onto the next phase of our life.  This photo was taken right before Rijen took me and the kids to the airport. The kids are already in the car, the luggage securely in the trunk. This photo is supposed to represent our time in Austin together and remind me of one of the many places we have lived during our marriage. This photo was taken on Tuesday, May 8th.

On Thursday, May 10th, this photo changed. It still looks the same to you perhaps. There we are, still smiling, the house looks the same, Rijen’s hand is slung casually around my waist, I’m kind of crossing my foot in front of the other, a little antsy to be getting on the road to the airport, and you can see the camera bag trying to be hidden behind the column.

What changed about this photo is what I see when I look at it now. What I desperately wish you could see now….which is who we were smiling at.  There, valiantly standing in the pouring rain, taking this picture at my request, was Layne, Rijen’s little brother. This would be the last picture he would ever take.

I close my eyes and I capture that memory in my head, us looking out at him, standing in the rain, the click of the shutter preserving our memory as we step out into our future.

I close my eyes and picture Rijen and Layne standing in the hallway upstairs, looking at each other for the last time Thursday night, neither of them knowing it, the click of the light switch as they foiled each other’s attempt to turn off the light.  A last laugh, a last goodnight, before the light went out.

It becomes hard to reconcile, that some of us, with all of our faults and weaknesses are allowed to continue to step out into our future: to make mistakes, to love, to struggle, to strive– while others are not, their lives tragically cut short.  It doesn’t seem possible that he is gone.

It doesn’t seem fair, and then the photo shows me grief, regret, and helplessness.  I want to go back to that moment, where Rijen is standing on that step,  the children are buckled in their car seats, the luggage resting in the trunk, Layne waiting to help us as I hand him the camera, apologizing that he’ll have to stand briefly in the rain.

I want to rest in that moment, the comfort of it– I want to step off of that front porch and put my hand on his shoulder and tell him how much his family loves him, how important he is to each of us, explain all the plans and ideas and fun times that we wanted for our future and how much we will miss him, how it will never be the same without him.  The inside jokes we thought we would continue to trade back and forth, the family events we would celebrate, the conversations about his future.

Whether it was the tiny sliver of time that I had with him, or the lifetime that his family was privileged to have, we all have pieces of our life that will never be whole again without him there.  We each will deal with this and seek comfort in different ways according to our faith and understanding of the plan of Salvation.

During such an unexpected and tragic event, I draw comfort from faith and the strength of family,  yet inevitably I also struggle with unanswerable questions.  For me, I attempt to reconcile this conflict by telling myself that if I can’t understand why this tragedy happened, I must at least learn from it.  I owe Layne that much.

What I have learned is to gain perspective once again.  It will sound cliche and obvious, but no less true. Life is short. Love your family. Show them and tell them.  Be a better person.  Think about time differently.  I want to focus more on my children and just enjoy being part of their development without worrying so much about what more I should be doing in mine. Be more thankful. Keep striving.

Those who know me well, know I love this poem, which always helps me make sense of sorrow:

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

With our limited mortal knowledge, we may never be able to know which moments will be the last for us or any of our loved ones. We can only capture them in the present in the best way that our Creator has entitled us to do so- with love.

Layne with Fiona and flowers.

Layne & Rijen-long time traveling companions.

Layne was standing next to me when I took this picture. We had lost track of Rijen after the long climb up the tower. Layne wanted to go all the way to the top, but I convinced him not to. We always think there may be a next time……

Layne assisting Fiona at the Louvre. She followed him around the whole time.

Don’t forget, Layne, he was on your team.

Layne loves Amsterdam

Click

Layne Christian Hendrick
December 27 1988- May 10 2012

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11 responses to “Click

  1. And now I am crying. My thoughts and prayers are with you guys. Thank you so much for sharing this. I loved it all.

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  2. So sorry to hear about this loss, Megan. Your words convey so much. My thoughts will be with you and your family.

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  3. You’ve experienced much grief and loss in a very short time. My thoughts are with you, my prayers are with you and your family. May the sweet memories bring you peace and keep you whole until you meet your loved ones again. Much love to your husband for the loss of his brother …I lost my younger sister last year. It’s just NOT something you expect to happen. I pray the Lord’s peace will envelop you all.

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  4. Sending love and prayers to your family. We’ll be thinking of you and and Rijen’s family and taking your words to heart!

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  5. Your words are both inspiring and organic. They have brought me to tears. Thank you for being so honest and for writing such an amazing tribute to Layne for all of us to benefit from. While I have only spent a few days total with him during the past 6 years, he made a lasting impression. I remember how patiently he played with Clara who followed him around the house (in fact I do believe he was her first crush) constantly and he never seemed annoyed. I remember enjoying the updates Rijen would give us on how he was doing while on his mission. I remember how he would sit and listen as Devin and I would talk about some issue or problem and he seemed to genuinely care about what we had to say and would even follow up later by asking how things were going – like my Christmas experience, for example. I remember how he happily spent the night on the couch this past summer just to wake up and literally fold himself into your car – complete with luggage on his lap – to drive from Maryland to North Carolina…without a complaint or even eye roll! He was such an amazing person and was always so nice and considerate. I can see why he will be missed so dearly and I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Layne and for including that very fitting poem.

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  6. This post feels both organic and inspired. It is a very emotional and moving tribute to Layne and has brought me to tears. Although we only spent a few days total with Layne over the past five years, he managed to make a lasting impression. I remember him patiently being Clara’s constant playmate at our house when she was only two years old. I honestly think he was her first crush. I remember how he would genuinely listen to any story or situation we would be talking about and later remember to ask about it, like my Christmas experience. I remember enjoying Rijen’s updates on Layne while he was on his mission. I remember how he spent the night on the couch just to wake up and practically fold himself into your car amidst all the luggage to drive you to North Carolina and didnt even come close to complaining. He was so thoughtful and so kind. We are so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and reminding me about this fitting poem. He was an amazing person.

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  7. Dearest Megan, Aleida sent us your very beautiful tribute to Layne and we are so grateful to her for sharing it with us. We have always felt you were and always will be a part of our family and we feel the same about Rijen. We look forward to meeting Fiona and Leif one day. We are mourning with you. We hurt because you and Rijen are hurting. We are so grateful for Aleida in our family and that makes us grateful for you, and of course for Rijen. This sweet tribute will ring in the hearts and souls of all of Rijen’s family. Please know how sorry we are. We feel that Layne passed away doing something he really wanted to do – serving others, and especially serving his beloved brother Rijen. Please know of our love and caring for you and Rijen and your sweet family. We are praying for all of you. We know that Heavenly Father’s warm arms are around you and will stay with you to comfort you during this very difficult time. We feel that Layne is with you and will continue to be with you, though he can no longer be seen. His sweet spirit will be with you in times when you need him. You will be able to feel him in the wind, when you walk in the rain and feel the soft raindrops fall, in the quiet times when you are reflecting on his life. He will comfort you, he will console you. He loves you so much. He will not leave you alone. You will feel Layne’s comforting arms around you at times … we know this is possible.

    Love, Garth and Kay Lynn Wakefield

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  8. I had to take breaks from reading this entry to avoid tearing up next to my co-workers. I remember Layne playing Call of Duty (?) with Rijen while Steffan and I were visiting in Austin. He would overhear our conversations and insert his comments through Rijen, as if he were in the room with us. My thoughts are with you, Rijen and his family.

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