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Mercy Lord

In the very early morning hours around 3 am after my son Caleb passed away, I found myself completely broken and my spirit was consumed with deep sorrow. I recall very vividly that moment when the weight of what happened only hours before and consumed me and the pain became more than I could bear and that’s precisely when I cried out to God and I kept saying, “Mercy Lord, mercy. Mercy Lord mercy.” What I was after was mercy from the pain and anguish. The shredding of my soul of which felt like was being torn from one end to the other with mashing and tearing back and forth. The pain would not abate. I would liken it to being perhaps run over and over and over again and even though not necessary but that thing keeps running you over. The pounding did not stop. It was in that moment where I had no option but to fall at the feet of God so to speak as there was no human way for me to escape the pain. I felt compelled to beg God for mercy. I was in fact on my face on the floor prostrate sobbing uncontrollably.

I bring this all up again because this past week a young girl of six years old was struck and killed by a car here in Colorado Springs in a neighboring development while riding her bicycle with her mother. I first heard it on our local radio station while I was driving to work on Friday, September 22, 2017. I recall feeling a pit in my stomach and I texted my wife at the next stop light to mention it to her as well. I continued to drive but could not help but feel for the family involved. To know the tragedy of losing a child. To know the door that family passed through. It started to weigh on me and I said a quick prayer for the family. As the day went on I went on with my business and did not give it a lot more thought but as I drove home I heard the same story repeated on the radio as they provided updates.

The next day my son Aaron asked me to take me to his girlfriend’s house that just so happens to be in the very development where the girl was killed. On the drive over, I could not help but think about that family again. As we got closer, my son Aaron told me it happened right near his girlfriend’s house and she actually knew the family and did babysitting work for them.  For me this was starting to get a little too close to home. As we approached the destination and not knowing where this took place, off to the right I saw the makeshift memorial with a tarp and toys right on the corner. My heart sank again and I could not help but stare as we drove by.

I dropped my son off and started to head back home and the weight on my heart became greater as I approached the memorial again on the way out. I started to slow down my car considerably as I approached and almost wanted not to look to my left but felt compelled. I pulled over my car and set the transmission into park and took my foot off the break. I continued to feel that moment. Feel the pain. Feel the sorrow of loss. Feel for the family involved. I started to pray for them right there and I said, “mercy Lord, mercy. Mercy Lord, mercy.” I started to get consumed with pain as my own loss and pain came to the surface. I continued on and prayed for that family my whole ride home.

I turned the local Christian radio station on and as I approached my driveway I started to become overrun with emotion. I put my car in park and began to sob uncontrollably. I felt empathy for that family and my own pain and loss consumed me. I pressed into God like that morning when I lost Caleb and repeated, “mercy Lord, mercy.” Mercy for that family in their sorrow and from mine. I continued to press into God and find relief. I find it is the only place for refuge.

So often I suppress the pain and loss of my son and try to lose myself with the distractions of this world but those feelings are there deep down. Early in my journey I both pressed into God and I fled God in anger and perhaps shook my fist at God at times. I’ve been through so many spiritual ups and downs since my son passed away and though I’ve gotten and feel way better than the early days, there is still a weight that is on me in some respect and a dark spot on my soul where the pain remains. This is not something I expect will ever go away but this incident and reminder this week with the young girl who passed away is a stark reminder of the only place I can find refuge is with the Lord.  It’s in those moment where I truly press in and seek God and his peace and mercy that I find any relief.

 

The truth is there is no escaping God’s presence. The bible speaks to this in Psalm 139:7-12

7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;

If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.

9 If I take the wings of the morning,

And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,

And Your right hand shall hold me.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall[a] on me,”

Even the night shall be light about me;

12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,

But the night shines as the day;

The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

 

The context is that running from God is futile. There were days early on that I was so angry with God and it served me not. I only find refuge when I press into God. Time and time again I find myself broken with grief and I press into God as it is the ONLY place for refuge. It’s like a one on one phone call where my spirit connects to God. It almost has like a tunnel feeling where this tube opens up and God is there and on the other end my spirit is able to connect. I can’t quite put it into words properly. What I know is that I find help there. I find relief. I find some peace.

Psalm 46 sums it up quite well:

6 God is our refuge and strength,

A very present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear,

Even though the earth be removed,

And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

3 Though its waters roar and be troubled,

Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah

4 There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,

The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.

5 God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved;

God shall help her, just at the break of dawn.

6 The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved;

He uttered His voice, the earth melted.

7 The Lord of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,

Who has made desolations in the earth.

9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;

He burns the chariot in the fire.

10 Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth!

11 The Lord of hosts is with us;

The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

 

Though I go through life trying to make sense of tragedy I know that God has a much bigger plan and I don’t always see that. I often take it personally when it’s not about me and never was. The bigger picture is that all things are for God’s glory. Ultimately all this pain and sorrow will be made right and I long for the day when I can see my son again. I continue the best way I know how on this earth and all of its troubles. I continue to keep looking up and do my part in life to do my best with all that I know how. God continues to bless our family and we remain faithful.  I certainly do not have all the answers and my journey is still ongoing. I still have pain and I still experience that sense of loss. I will continue to serve God and even though I don’t always understand his plan I trust it’s right for me. God has made me stronger through it all. I don’t always see that until I am tested. This was a big test of my faith and I have remained true.

I continue to ask for your prayers and if you would find the time and if you are still reading this blog post that you might pray for the family who recently lost their child here in Colorado Springs. They are just starting this journey and I can say I know their pain. I feel their pain. My prayer is my writing might help some other person out there or have some impact. Feel free to reach out to me or comment on this blog.

for reference: 

http://gazette.com/child-6-killed-by-car-in-northeast-colorado-springs/article/1611688

http://fox21news.com/2017/09/22/colorado-springs-school-mourns-the-death-of-six-year-old-student/

http://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/local/colorado/2017/09/24/6-year-old-girl-hit-killed-van-colorado-springs/698923001/

 

Author: Andrew Dubas

andrew@dubas.org

 

Note: I am not a professional writer just some dad who lost a child and and find healing in expressing my experience in this blog. I did not proof read this blog for errors or grammar issues. I will ask my wife to look it over later and will correct as needed. 🙂

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Not Four

As Caleb’s birthday approaches on April 6th and as much as I try to run from my son’s death, the more I get reminded there’s no other way other than to find healthy ways to process his passing. My default is to suppress and ignore it as mush as I can. The problem is there’s always this undercurrent of truth in the background and that reality always seems to find a way to surface contrary to my best efforts. As an example, last week I pulled up my phone and opened Facebook to clear my notifications and the first in my feed was a “Facebook Memory” from 3 years ago of my son Caleb. Being very tech orientated I proudly posted a lot of video and pictures of my son during his short life on Facebook and I am now plagued with reminders on Facebook from years past and just last week a reminder video I don’t recall seeing or taking popped up and I felt compelled to watch. The first few seconds were OK but I found myself flashing back and then getting angry about his loss of which led to this Facebook post:

 

Though the above Facebook post was a moment in time that does reflect how I feel all the time, it just goes to show quickly the truth can surface and how vulnerable I am to bubble over with emotions I normally do my best not to experience. Having a new son has been a great distraction but I’ve had some weird dreams about him and water and drowning and as much as we keep our new baby on a short leash I am reminded I am really not in control of outcomes. God is the ultimate decider of my fate and of all things and I can only do my best to accept his will and keep my attitude in check.

I’ve watched my faith become very strong and very strained though this process of recovery. As I mentioned to my wife the other day the most difficult thing to do when processing is trying to convey feelings with the limitations of the human language. There just isn’t a way or enough descriptive words to accurately describe the range of emotions and pain and deep sense of loss. Some days even when I want to imagine the good times with Caleb it quickly turns to the reality he will never be coming back and I won’t see him again on this side of heaven and for that matter what will heaven even be like with Caleb and will I even know who he is? Too many unknowns apart from what I know to be true and that is the pain and loss of losing a child here on this earth. 

I can’t say I have a good way to process all of the icky emotions that surface and they usually go to anger. I guess i’m pissed off and there isn’t a way to make that go away right now and I’m not sure that it has to in this part of my life as I am still learning. This will be a life long process and I will take where I am today with great functionality over the pain I felt in the first days and weeks after Caleb past away. One thing I do find that helps is to check my perspective and there is one passage that makes it real and it’s found in Job in the bible where God says to Job (Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?): Job obviously went through a lot of stuff that God allowed to happen and when Job was finally questioning God his response is remarkable and also helps me keep my own pride in check. God created everything and I am at his mercy.

Job 38New King James Version (NKJV)

The Lord Reveals His Omnipotence to Job

38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

“Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell Me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements?
Surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
To what were its foundations fastened?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
10 When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors;
11 When I said,
‘This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!’

12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
And caused the dawn to know its place,
13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It takes on form like clay under a seal,
And stands out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the upraised arm is broken.

16 “Have you entered the springs of the sea?
Or have you walked in search of the depths?
17 Have the gates of death been revealed to you?
Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?
18 Have you comprehended the breadth of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.

19 “Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,
20 That you may take it to its territory,
That you may know the paths to its home?
21 Do you know it, because you were born then,
Or because the number of your days is great?

22 “Have you entered the treasury of snow,
Or have you seen the treasury of hail,
23 Which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
For the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is light diffused,
Or the east wind scattered over the earth?

25 “Who has divided a channel for the overflowing water,
Or a path for the thunderbolt,
26 To cause it to rain on a land where there is no one,
A wilderness in which there is no man;
27 To satisfy the desolate waste,
And cause to spring forth the growth of tender grass?
28 Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
30 The waters harden like stone,
And the surface of the deep is frozen.

31 “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades,
Or loose the belt of Orion?
32 Can you bring out Mazzarotha] in its season?
Or can you guide the Great Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
Can you set their dominion over the earth?

34 “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
35 Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, ‘Here we are!’?
36 Who has put wisdom in the mind?b]
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
37 Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
38 When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?

39 “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40 When they crouch in their dens,
Or lurk in their lairs to lie in wait?
41 Who provides food for the raven,
When its young ones cry to God,
And wander about for lack of food?

(the passage continues in Job 39 etc so please read the rest)

What it comes down to is that I am not in control and God is. All things good and bad are for His glory and when I get mad at God I remind myself of the passage where God said to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” God has a plan for everything and everything happens for a reason whether I like it or not. Life has given me a lot of emotional tattoos and it has made me who I am today and one day it will all be made right regardless what this world throws at me and I look forward to the peace heaven will bring. 

On April 6, Caleb Andrew Dubas would have been 4 years old and I can only imagine what he would be like. There are so many things I miss about him and in so many ways I can imagine how he would be but those aspects are fantasy that I only entertain for short periods of time so I don’t end up down the emotional rabbit hole of pain. One thing is for sure both Caleb’s birthday and his death day still hold a strong placeholder in my world and I will continue to process his loss. I will continue to ask for prayer as Tiffany and I still battle with this loss. I am not sure how often I will write or if anyone is listening… I just wish Caleb was here so I could wish him a happy birthday. I miss him deeply and I will continue to lean on God for strength because it is his will in my life not mine that will be done and I am reminded of that on a regular basis. 

 

Author: Andrew Dubas

andrew@dubas.org

 

BTC: 16TbZMCMRshQCzetw2wZMpMqgMxRbd7WUH

 

 

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New Beginnings

When my wife and I learned some 11 months ago we would be having another child the news came with mixed emotions. I think fear was very real and in the front of our minds especially for my wife whom for so long could not even hold a baby let alone be around babies. To this day she struggles when seeing little blonde hair boys who are Caleb’s frozen age of 18 months. Would there be comparisons? Who would this new child look like? Would we accept him? Would my wife get postpartum? The unknowns were quite overwhelming. As time when on and the pregnancy became very real and obvious, reality crept ever closer with each passing day closer to delivery.

At times during my wife’s pregnancy I would question God as to why he would allow our son Caleb to die only to bless us with another child. It only makes me question free will and how much God allows or controls. The whole Armenian / Calvinist struggle. It’s not something I need to figure out but certainly as I ponder why things happen the way that they do, I find myself questioning a lot. Wrestling with reality and my existence. I get at times down some deep theological rabbit holes as I search for answers and press into God. Something does not feel right in the world and I sense things changing. I can’t quite place my finger on it yet but with political and global financial markets in turmoil and uncertainty, it is leaving most me with an uneasy spirit. I find myself looking up as to know God is about to move in a big way when things break down. Global war seems to be in the air…

All these things and the pain we have gone through only heightens my awareness to the world around me and for what life my children will experience. Though these thoughts permeate my spirit from time to time, nothing is more mysterious than the miracle of life. On July 20, 2016, we welcomed a new son into this world and the anticipation was intense and the emotions consuming. I know my wife and I wept with joy when our new son was born. We accepted him with open arms and embraced God’s blessing. One of the neatest thing to see was that God gave him dark hair unlike most of our other children. There was no need to compare because our new son was obviously different. God knew precisely what he is doing. I lose sight of that often in my own pride and selfishness. We are truly blessed.

One of the most difficult things and even now that our new little guy is two months old, Caleb’s name keeps coming to my lips when I want to say hello to the new baby. This is the same for my wife. We have to think for a second. It’s like we are programmed to say Caleb even though our new son is named Xavier. I think over time this will diminish and I know for myself it is getting easier to say Xavier instead. This new little guy is starting to smile and is growing well. One thing is for sure, he is a huge mental distraction from the pain of losing Caleb along with our older kids in school and the business of life has really made a big difference. Though I still try to control how much I think about Caleb, it is becoming easier to talk about him and our loss with others. Doing so is mostly therapeutic it is still fresh being not even two years out from Caleb’s death.

I continue to press on and seek God’s guidance. We host a small group from church and its been great to get to know knew people and make friends here in Colorado. We continue to explore this great state visiting 10 state parks this past summer. The beauty of this state is intoxicating… I really enjoy it. I often think about writing but more times than not, I find myself too busy with life or not feeling lead to write. I like to write when my emotions are ripe so that they spill into my words so you might understand and feel where I am. As for now I am long and need to sleep. I just wanted to update on our status. We will see how much I write but this process I think needs to be shared. That there is hope after losing a child. That things do get better with time. That the wounds slowly heal. To God be the glory as we try to figure this thing out.

Author: Andrew Dubas

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Not Three

Though things have been going “fairly” well, it doesn’t take much to depress me when it comes to Caleb. If Caleb were still alive, we would be celebrating his third birthday April 6, 2016. Though I explained where I was last year around this time when I wrote “Not Two“, again, I am in a different place emotionally this year. In the back of my mind I occasionally am reminded it’s getting closer to April 6th yet this year compared to last there is no comparison. Last year around this time April 6th marked the first birthday we would not have Caleb to celebrate it with. Though I tried not to think about it too much then (last year), I realized on that day just how crushing it really was… How much pent up emotions were setting below the surface…

This year though I made it to April 4th with very little interaction with my emotions when it comes to Caleb’s birthday yet this morning my wife sent me a text message with a picture of a flower arrangement that my father-in-law had purchased to place at Caleb’s grave for his birthday. Though it’s a pretty arrangement, it was in that moment that I was forced to remember my son is dead and he won’t ever be three. Sure, I already know this to be true but normally, my thoughts of Caleb are controlled or in “my time” as I see fit as those type of emotions are best in moderation because if uncontrolled can depress me quite quickly. When I consumed that picture Tiffany sent me through the windows to my soul, it quickly gave me more than what I was prepared to handle and I had to stuff those emotions back down and filter them before they got out of hand… It’s just where I like to be.

It was also during this time that I realized we have another marker in history coming up on May 15th, 2016. This will mark the day that Caleb will be gone longer than he was alive on earth. Another sobering thought among many I had this morning. It sucks. Plain and simple… As much as I try to describe what it is like to lose a child, I fail miserably because the English language does not have enough words to convey such anguish. Yes, I can function as normal but there is always this “icky” noise in the background of my soul that haunts me. It’s not so constant that I can’t be distracted from it but when I have nothing else going on around me or in my brain, that leaves an opening for Caleb to pop in and usually its not “Caleb” or the good things I miss but the fact that he is gone and not coming back or my mind wants to go to the trauma surrounding that event or when there or other “triggers” that take me there outside of my careful control.

From a spiritual perspective, I can be quite bitter at times towards God though that is getting better. I still very much go to church and pray and have a relationship with God but there is a good amount of time where I am just going though the motions and I don’t like it one bit. There are times where I mentally run and reject God in my thoughts (cold shoulder) but it gets me know where. I can’t escape his presence. This is both good and bad… Though there are times I get mad enough and want to run as far as I can, I am left with only myself and the pain of losing my son and God is still there anyway so there is no benefit to running but sometimes I want to even though I know it’s useless… This is where I am at times… Don’t get me wrong, I do press into God and I need to but my desire and my walk has been like a roller coaster this past year as I internalize the reality that God is in control and Caleb was never mine.

Perhaps I should try writing when negative emotions are not so in my face like now with Caleb’s birthday. When I write however, I like to feel inspired to do so. I think in a way I want others who have lost a child to know where I am in my process. If you read my past blogs you would see I am all over the map even though now nearly 18 months after losing Caleb, I am way more steady than I was this year last year even though my writings may not reflect that. I can actually look  at pictures of Caleb and video and talk about him more freely than ever before without it being so intensely painful. Let there be no doubt that I am enjoying parts of my life again. Life is moving on and I do find joy and can laugh again but deep down there is very much  a part of me that is broken and right now so close to Caleb’s birthday the broken part is coming to the surface more than usual so I am writing about it…

I am really enjoying living in Colorado too. The snow capped mountains are food for my soul. I feel God when I see them. I am in awe of his creation and it is very humbling. This is the good part just before I get mad at God for taking Caleb or “allowing” him to die. I know death is part of life and we will all drink from that cup one day but It doesn’t make it easy knowing God is in control and allowed it. I will never understand the big picture until I see God face to face but I know God has a bigger plan it’s just hard and hard sucks. Losing a child sucks. The pain from that event sucks. I would much rather have Caleb and not this pain but I know this life is not all rainbows and unicorns. Perhaps my selfish desire not to feel this pain is why I am mad at God because of course “my way” would have been better right? At least for me and Caleb anyway had I been the author of life… Reality though is writing a much different story and with many plot twists. I just need to keep looking up and trust God because he knows what’s coming around the corner as I obviously do not. It’s what I wrestle with at times… not all the time but it’s where I am at in this process. I just get mad and I know God has big shoulders. He can take it. I am just looking for some understanding and processing something like this is hard to explain.

I am done rambling for now… Rest in peace Caleb Andrew Dubas. I miss you my son.

birthday-flowers

Birthday flowers to be put at Caleb’s grave site.

image

Author: Andrew Dubas andrew@dubas.org

 

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It Doesn’t Go Away…

The loss of a child runs deep… It’s been 15 months now since my son has passed away. Most days are seemingly normal for the most part with exception to triggered thoughts that come from nowhere. Watching a football game this evening a commercial came on the TV for some crime show and it briefly showed a morgue body tray being pulled out with a covered body and my brain instantly flashed back to the mental trauma of seeing my son’s lifeless body at the hospital. Being there in the ER room while the doctors tried to revive him still haunts me deeply. It’s not something I think about often and I try at all cost to avoid re-playing those memories however sometimes they just pop in to my brain suddenly and take center stage when triggered by certain associations. I then have to process quickly and redirect to some other thought. It’s hard not to run down bunny trails in my mind. I’ve certainly gotten better control but I am quickly reminded how deep into my soul my son resides.

I haven’t written in a while and I’m not sure what that means. I’ve been fighting through every day and on the surface I’m OK. Deep down though, I’m stuck with a really bad reality that invokes many different emotions. It messes with me if I allow it but sometimes I have a difficult time not wanting to dwell… I seek after God however many times I take my son’s death personally. I find myself some days angry at God. I question a lot of things and I can’t help but be real about it.  It’s a struggle. I miss my son and I don’t understand. Life is so incredibly fragile and my son wasn’t sick. He was perfectly healthy, happy and loved life! He was just starting to say his first words. I never got to hear him say, “Dad”.  I guess the list goes on for eternity… I am grateful for the time I had with him yet I am more focused on the pain and loss at times because that comes front and center.

It doesn’t go away… This new reality is constantly poking me in the gut when I least expect it. It’s hard to avoid. I guess I’m just pissed off. It’s not right… I have no control to change it. I’d liken it to a stain on my soul that will not wash off. I try to peel it off and get away from it but I’m afraid its permanent. There is no escape at this point. Though from where I was until now I certainly have made progress. This whole thing is a process…

In other news since my last writings my Wife and I learned we are again with child.  We are expecting a new baby July 26, 2016. This also comes with mixed emotions. We have been committed to letting God decide the size of our family and I thought for sure if God allowed our son to die why would he bless us with another? This new baby will have no idea the life we had up to this point. He/she will be another clean slate. To take all the things we have learned from our other six children, my late son and apply this to the new one. I’m already running scenarios in my mind about what this might be like. In some ways I am scared to start over. Could I possibly endure another loss? Will we get it right this time? I have some teenage boys who are growing up fast. The trauma of losing a child runs so deep and it’s a pain I’d like to never feel again. This fear certainly will affect our decision making. I can imagine I will be quite obsessed with a new baby.

It will be like having our first all over again. There are exciting and scary times ahead and this road has been crazy. Having lots of children is no walk in the park. It is very demanding and rewarding at the same time. I am looking forward to a new baby Dubas. I know he/she can’t replace Caleb yet my fear is the baggage will affect this new little one… In addition, my wife is 42 and there’s a lot of risk with a pregnancy now and all of these things weigh on my mind.

God is in control not me and every day this is ever more evident. I do thank God for the many blessings in our lives. It’s just a process that is not anything like I’ve ever experienced. Life is moving on but pieces of me are stuck in the past. It’s a tight rope walk. One day a time.

 

Author: Andrew Dubas

andrew@dubas.org

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Rest in Peace Caleb Andrew Dubas

Caleb Andrew Dubas Saturday April 6th, 2013 – Tuesday October 14, 2014.

I wasn’t sure what this day would bring. It’s definitely emotional. I woke up at around 5:00 AM mountain time to my phone vibrating with messages. I had a lot of work emails and got busy working some issues that needed tending and it seemed like today might just be a normal day in that respect however once the east coast was awake, the well wishes started to roll in on social media and text. While in the shower (where I do my best thinking), I was processing what I might post to memorialize Caleb on this day and the water started to stream from my eyes as I started to count the cost and feel the loss all over again. I’m not focused on the trauma of that day but only how I miss Caleb. The good memories that I like to savor yet also jerk my soul because I won’t be seeing Caleb again this side of heaven and I don’t know how many days God has numbered for me. It’s hard for sure and I can only draw closer to God. This is the only place I find refuge and strength.

I know in Luke 16:25-26 God speaks of a chasm and Caleb can’t hear me however I did ask Jesus to relay the message that I love and miss Caleb. I know I won’t get a read receipt but I trust that Caleb is with the Lord and I will see him again. King David spoke to this in 2 Samuel 12:23 that he would go to him (his son who died). This is comforting to an extent but there is an unknown amount of time between then and now so I will continue to trust in God and keep looking up. I can’t help but look around the world with all the chaos and trust that Jesus is coming soon. I know there have been world wars and people in past generations have felt the same way but for me it just feels ripe. Like something is afoot. Time will tell but for now I remember my son and miss him. I have to get on with my day so I will cut this one short. I love and miss you Caleb Andrew Dubas!

Author: Andrew Dubas

andrew@dubas.org

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It’s Not About Me

Sunday October 11, 2015

Earlier this morning after first church service, with lot’s of people walking in every direction and I took a seat on a comfortable chair in the foyer to collect my thoughts and soak in the sermon I just heard along with my surroundings. I started to look around and between the people walking I caught a glimpse of Pike’s Peak mountain in the distance out the front doors of the church. My wondering eyes immediately stopped and focused. I stared down this mountain soaking in it’s beautiful detail against a cloudless deep blue sky. It was difficult to take my eyes away as I began to feel insignificant and small in the scheme of things. I started to think about my life and what it all means.  Where I’ve been, where I am and where I am going. Listening to my son tell me about his evening the night before at homecoming dance, he described some of his classmates. I could not help but think about my own childhood as I told him the people in our life and the interactions we have with them shapes us. I said to him that God put those people our life for a reason.

I am coming to believe that as much as I have choices, I really don’t. Sure, I can decide to put on a red shirt instead of a blue shirt or black socks instead of white socks but how much of that really impacts who I am? I am who I am because of the experiences I’ve had in life and because where God has placed me for specific purpose and ultimately for his glory as he works out His will in my life. As I take an even deeper look, I see things for what they are. There is good and there is evil. Even though wicked things happen on this earth, God is sovereign and nothing is going to happen unless God allows it. There are no accidents. The way things are… are the way things are and for good reason. For God’s glory. So for me to separate myself from his will is impossible. Try as I might, God always pulls me back and points me in the direction of his choosing.

Early on, I took Caleb’s death very as very personal. Not that I ever expected that my life would be perfect after following Jesus, I just don’t see why. This is where Idolatry creeps in as I try to create a god who would never allow children to die. I can’t help but think that if I were God, I would do things differently though the truth is I don’t have a clue. These are the big things in life I wonder about as I try to figure out God and his will for my life. Why things happen the way they happen and why am I here in this very moment writing this very sentence. I guess a lot of what I am experiencing is really a philosophical questions about free will, God’s will and what choices we really have in respect to affecting God’s will or truly making our own decisions and if the decisions we make are really only a perception of free will or is God’s foreknowledge of the decisions we would make in life really just part of His plan for our lives from the beginning. Since God knows the end, didn’t it already happen?

Though I travel this blog entry down bunny trails, I have become more and more aware of how my life is not about me and it never was. Everything points to God’s glory. God will be glorified in everything in the end as his perfect will unfolds whether I understand it or not. In the moment, I don’t always see God’s plan for my life because I am too selfishly focused on how it affects me in the here and now instead of how it’s shaping me for the future. It’s the bigger looks back that I see God’s hand causing certain events in my life for his specific purpose. So many small choices piled up to a point where my son had a chance to wonder off to that pond. Any one of those small choices in life played a part but by themselves where very insignificant.

I try not to consume my mind with theological/philosophical questions but being a thinker, I ponder what it life means since we only get one of them here on this earth I want to understand what I believe and why like why I trust God’s plan for my life and how little I have to do with it. God has most definitely brought me to this place and it’s here that I realize that it’s not about me and it never was. This is not to say we are puppets. In fact, to prove I am not a puppet I will write the words, “I am not a puppet” because I chose to. Just like I put a blue shirt on instead of red one that begs the question if Judas in the bible had a choice to betray Jesus. Did he? There seem to be some choices that we make that are very much our own but others that seem to be our own but were part of the big picture from the beginning since God created it all. Did I really chose to put that red shirt on?

I was put on this planet to do one thing. To glorify and worship God and this is what I will do even when I don’t always feel like it. It was hard not to take Caleb’s death personally as I know God has the power to raise him up again or not allow it to happen in the first place. I know life does not work this way and no amount of faith could affect God’s will. It’s easy to praise God when things go our way but more meaningful is to still praise God when things don’t go our way because it’s not about us and I will do just that… Praise God through the storm. I certainly don’t have the answers but I know the one who does. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I know the one who does.

Tuesday October 13, 2015

Even though I was very busy at work, there is definitely an undercurrent with tomorrow looming on my soul. It’s not about a day but a reminder of what I am missing, what I don’t have and what has taken Caleb’s place… A very mysterious state of being that does not feel like home. In some ways, I am still in shock… I recap this last year and feel like it was just a bad dream and I am waiting for someone to wake me up. Did Caleb really die? Though I don’t really expect that to happen, I just like to wish it were so sometimes…

When I got home from work I started my chores and Tiffany left to go to Walgreens with Alexis so I cranked up the music which I don’t get to do often and it seemed that God’s Holy Spirit met me there for sure right where I was at. The well of my soul overflowed with some water that steamed down my face and God met me right where I was. Good stuff.

Later, Tiffany and I went to our couples bible study and we had a great time. We’ve met two other couples there and we really click. At the end when the pastor asked who wanted prayer, Tiffany was the first and only one who raised her hand and Tiffany explained that we lost our son one year ago tomorrow and we wanted prayer. This was a big step for her and the entire room surrounded us and prayed. It was a very special moment. Most of the people we barely know and are just getting to know… I felt very much at peace. I feel at home when I am at church. Very relaxed. I really enjoy that time and it’s been great. Rocky Mountain Calvary Church has been a great match for us. The sermons seem to be written for us and this very moment in our lives. Hard to explain other than being divine (duh). 🙂

In fact, speaking of divine…When I got home, my wife mentioned she did not even want to go to bible study because she did not want to be around people. She was obviously stressed… So much is going on and every day is challenging. When she went to Walgreens she stopped on the way at to pick up our daughter Alexis at the community fountain and took her along. While there Alexis called with excitement to Tiffany, “Hey mom, look what I found!” Turned out to be heart socks! I know I wrote briefly about the significance of those in an earlier blog post but they were the only ones on the shelf and the last set to boot. God met Tiffany in that moment and when she got home, she said she changed her mind and wanted to go to bible study and we ended up having a great evening. So for now, I feel very relaxed about tomorrow. I miss Caleb like crazy and tomorrow a year ago was a very bad day for us but tomorrow is not last year and we are going to be OK. We still struggle but as I look back over this year, God has been guiding us the whole way. We still covet your prayers and let’s see what tomorrow brings and face it head on as the battle belongs to the Lord.

Author: Andrew Dubas

I can be reached @ andrew@dubas.org

 

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He’s not coming home…

 

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Next to giving my son’s lifeless body CPR and giving him my own breath, the second most difficult thing I’ve had to endure was to call my wife from the emergency room at Lehigh Valley Hospital to tell her that our son would not be coming home. From the moment desperate screaming started after my son Elijah found Caleb motionless in the pond, I still had hope. While running full speed to take my son in my arms to start CPR, I still had hope. With every chest compression and breath I gave to my son, I still had hope he would return to me. While giving stern instructions to my wife to call 911, I still had hope. From the first cry for prayer on social media by my wife, I still had hope. As the prayers and support started rolling in, I still had hope. When the ambulance arrived, I still had hope. On the ride to the hospital, I still had hope. My pleading to God increasing with every mile, I had hope God would hear my cry.  Caleb was in good hands, trained professionals and I still had hope. Arriving at the hospital and rushing into the emergency room with Caleb a fierce and well prepared team of ER doctors and support staff were taking control and I had hope. I continued pleading to God as time stood still, I still had hope. Sitting in the ER room with lots of organized chaos all around me I still had hope Caleb would come back to me.

An eerie quiet fell over the ER room and I quickly began to realize Caleb was not coming home. The ER doctors were not able to intervene or to reverse God’s will. The prayers of many faithful failed to change what was predestined to occur at that very time, the very moment that God had preordained before the foundations of the earth. Reality and the raw truth of the moment had consumed me completely. God said, “No” and time and space seemed to stop as I had only one focus. My wife was home in prayer with many other people from as far and wide as social media would take and as fast as word could travel. A lot of people still had hope and faith that God would intervene in that very moment however I and the people in the ER room were the first to know the grave news and now I was the first to pass through this door with no return. This door I had past through left hope behind as a carcass on the ground of life. New reality crushing me from every direction. No way to go back the other way and one by one, others too would have to pass through this same door as they came to know that Caleb went to be with the Lord. It was his time (Psalm 139:16)

Time stopped and reality continued to punch me over and over in the gut as I had to call my wife. From every button pressed on the phone to the ringing I heard in my ear, I can recall every moment as vividly as that day. My anxious wife distraught with stress answered the phone awaiting my call. You see my wife still had hope… She was eagerly waiting for good news from me as she hadn’t yet passed through the door. When I heard my precious wife’s voice all I could say was, “Caleb’s not coming home Tiffany”. To share this news with my wife was to crush her spirit. There was no way around the door. No way to reverse reality and with that my wife fell to the floor in uncontrollable sobbing. All I could do was listen on the other end of the phone to her desperate cries and suffering as she joined me in horrid misery and untamed anguish.

As the one year anniversary of my son’s death is upon me, I’ve spent time in reflection of that day today and that door I had to pass through from one world to another. Literally where my life changed in an instant then to where I am today. In those first fiery hours where I spent time in shock and anger trying to make sense of it all and shaking my fist at God in my pride and disbelief. This last year as been a journey. Though I have gained mental strength and fortitude, I am still weak. Driven… yet restrained. Moving forward yet stuck. Full of faith yet numb. As this write and this moment in time is just that… a moment. This blog post is me processing the last few hours of my day and most of what I am writing now is what I thought of just on my way home from work. I have up and I have downs. If you read my last post you can tell I am in a different place. I try not to put too much weight on the one year anniversary and I feel just like Caleb’s birthday, the days leading up to that day were more difficult than the day itself.

(break – few hours – couples bible study tonight at Rocky Mountain Calvary)

My wife and I have been intentional about meeting people here in Colorado at our new church and we are making some great new connections. Tonight I was able to briefly share my story to two couples and it felt good to express where I am at and where God has brought us. The one couple who had eight children asked if anything good came from it. I had to reflect a bit because being so close to the anniversary I’m left in a place where I am more focused on the tragedy of that day and the trauma we went through vs God’s plan so it’s all very real and a bit raw. I spend quite a bit of time reflecting on my life and where I am and where God has brought me to. As I’ve expressed in previous blogs my life and who I am is not about me. Everything is for God’s glory and it’s easy to lose site of that. I am truly blessed and God continues to bless my family I feel because of our faithfulness.

This journey is really just beginning when I consider eternity. This very moment is extremely small as hard as it is I look forward to seeing Caleb again. I’m not sure what that will be like. A lot of things in life seem really small compared to what I have been through. So there is so much flowing through me in all of this. I am truly growing spiritually. Through the first half of this blog was a moment in time, I took a break and and I am in a different place. It’s remarkable. I just need to keep looking up and pressing on. I’m not sure if I will post on the anniversary of Caleb’s passing. I was considering just continuing this post in draft and post it 10/14/15 but I feel led just to post where I am at and where I was just in the last few hours. This post is just processing the upcoming anniversary approaching fast. Know that I am well and my family and I continue to covet your prayers. The next few weeks will be extra challenging as it’s hard not to focus on losing Caleb who was/is incredibly precious to us. God’s will, not mine be done. Caleb is not coming home…No, he is home. Home with God who created him. Until we meet again little buddy! New hope.

Author: Andrew Dubas

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reminder: I am not a professional writer. I write to express my emotions the best I can as it relates to losing my son and the battles I face and win lose because of it. So please excuse typos, grammar and other structure issues and that I bounce around a lot. This is really for me more than you but I know people visit this site for various reasons. In fact, since this site went up, the stats show 16k+ unique visitors. I just pray Caleb’s short life and my experience can help another family or parent get through their own struggles as there is hope after losing a child and yes it’s difficult but I promise you I would not be where I am had it not been for God in my life and my faith in Jesus Christ my Lord and savior. 🙂

Instead of fighting God, press in.

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I MISS YOU CALEB ANDREW DUBAS. REST IN PEACE MY SON.

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Different Place…

Eleven months and ten days since Caleb Andrew Dubas has passed away and I am in a different place. Every day I go to work, I see the majestic rocky mountains and nearly every evening I watch the sunset as I walk around my new neighborhood. There’s certainly something to be said about physically relocating after a child’s death. While in Pennsylvania, at the same home where Caleb died in our backyard pond, I had constant reminders of that day. Every time I walked outside, I had gut wrenching reminders and flashbacks of what happened. From walking paths where I would walk with Caleb on my back in his little blue backpack to every square inch of that house that he loved to explore. That house was all Caleb knew in his 18 months of life. We had some great family memories there and even though I prefer to dwell on those good memories, living there brought the evil of that day to the front of the line in my minds eye making it extremely difficult.

In the first few months after Caleb past, I was trying my best to survive and get through each day one at a time. In some ways I tried my best to shut Caleb out of my mind all together because of the pain. The good memories just reminded me of what could never be again as they always brought me back to his last day. Pictures, video, physical location triggers, smells and the list goes on as they all would equal pain. To this day I have every video I took of Caleb from my phone on my phone. I am now at a point in my journey were I can take a glimpse but just about 1 year out, I am still tiptoeing my way around a very delicate situation on how to manage that pain. I never really know how I might react or feel. Certain memories are very good but all I have to do is hear an ambulance in the distance or see standing water and I am right back to that day. Sure, those triggers and thoughts I can manage by not dwelling on the event that each trigger takes me to by quickly moving to another thought, however the temptation to wallow in the mud is very real. I can go to dark places when that happens and it’s not a good place to be.

God opened doors for our move to Colorado and I  am glad I went through that door. Being somewhere completely different has been a huge blessing and a lot of healing has taken place in the couple months since we’ve been here. I won’t say its all been fun and games as our family is back home along with our support system but for me to reflect back over these last months in Colorado Springs vs any day back in our old home, I will take this a hundred times over as I don’t have those mental triggers and it’s allowed me to move on in a different way. The lows are not as low, the triggers are short lived and I can finally start to see Caleb’s image in photo and video in moderation. The shear intensity is much lower than the first few months and I imagine time will continue to heal. I feel I am healing in a sense but I am in a different place. Different physically, spiritually and emotionally. I have to live for my family now and their future. We are all on this journey together… forever changed. We are rapidly building new memories and inviting new opportunities to share our experience with others.

I often wondered what God’s plan in all of this and I think of the grand things while missing some small very neat things that have occurred even recently. My wife joined this Facebook group for parents who have lost children and she shared her story and pointed them to this blog. Initially this blog was a place where I could pour out my raw emotion in a very selfish way because writing about my emotions was easier to do than in person. I still find it hard to express in words my every day life and what I feel. There really isn’t a way to truly understand what losing a child is like until you lose a child let alone translate an extreme feeling into finite words that do little to convey what they really mean. I think though sharing my story might give hope to someone who is just starting their journey down a road no one wants to travel. my faith in God and his plan for my life is what drives me into each day. I know that from this tragedy that God will be glorified and good will come from it. God is my rock and my salvation, my refuge and strength. Some days are still very hard by all in all I am in a different place. Different because I can never be the same as I was before Caleb passed.

I can grow and learn and help others but there is still this place where I find myself a little numb to life. It hasn’t been quite a year since Caleb past and I know I have a long way to go. This road was really rocky in the beginning with lots of potholes. I often would end up in a ditch on the side of the road but it has since smoothed out a bit. I still hit bumps and each day has enough trouble of it’s own but it’s certainly nice to drive down this road and look out the window and see the rocky mountains and all the glory of their creator looking back at me. There is a peace I find here in Colorado. I know God brought me here for a reason and I keep looking up. I’m here waiting on you Lord. Show me the way!

I get glimpses of life after losing a child and yea its different, but it’s not all bad. The bond with my wife is getting stronger and my other children are growing up strong. We will fight to live another day because it’s one day closer to glory and one day closer to Caleb. This life I live is not for me but for God who created me. All of my life is for His glory and Caleb was for his glory. Caleb Andrew Dubas was truly a blessing. I miss him with all my heart and I cherish every moment I had with him. I did my best to save him but God has another plan. I am ready for that plan and I will keep looking up.

I am in a different place… and it’s not that bad. I’m still not sure what to make of this “different” but compared to where I was when I started this journey, I will take THIS over THAT since I can’t change the past. I can only affect NOW and here is where I belong… seeing what tomorrow brings while living for today.  I miss you Caleb Andrew Dubas!

Author: Andrew Dubas

 

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Memorial Monument

My entire family and I recently relocated to Colorado. Things in our lives have been very hectic as one might imagine moving a family of eight halfway across the country. I haven’t felt led or inspired to write lately however I wanted to post an update as to a memorial monument that was set at my Caleb Andrew Dubas’ grave site. The initial process was documented here. My work relocation was sudden and I was quite worried that Caleb’s stone would not be set before we left for Colorado. Though God knew the details, I was pleased when I got the call that Caleb’s stone would be set two days before we left. It was certainly a relief and bitter sweet. I initially had a secret plan to buy roses the night before we left and set them on our way out as we left for Colorado as a last show of respect as I can’t predict when we will be back to Pennsylvania to visit. I was out of town when the memorial was set and returned Friday June 26, 2015. The forecast for Saturday was rain (moving truck loaded) and Sunday we were set to leave early for Colorado. Friday evening when I arrived home I felt an urgency to visit Caleb’s grave and see the memorial for myself. I asked who wanted to go with me and everyone wanted to go. My wife grabbed a box of tissues and we left. I think I was a little more excited this time as opposed to this visit. Everything went well and we were very happy with the result. So without more details I will leave you with some pictures.

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