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December 2014


Fission of my Heart

I sit here searching the depths of my sorrow. Confined in a dungeon against my will. The fission of my heart has lead me to this place. It wasn’t a clean cut. No, the jagged tear of my beating heart is from top to bottom. This prison, It’s a forsaken place with cold stone walls and miles of hallway to nowhere. I know because I walked every one of them searching for answers. Moisture from the earth above has penetrated and seeped through the rock. Every few seconds the sound of new mineral laden water drops strike the floor with precision from above shattering the cold silence. There’s very little light to speak of from one small window with thick iron bars. Slowly dragging my palm and fingers along the cold stone. Broken chains and shackles from long ago litter the dark earthen floor. What does it all mean. As I wander with one had on the wall, my fingertips fall into each valley between the stone where cold mortar rests. Rough to the touch I push on to feel every stone. To wonder what it’s like on the outside. Searching for warmth and signs of life I find the only window is out of my reach. Dappled sunlight wars to enter, barely enough to cast a shadow. I stretch my hand up to reach the light if only for a moment for relief but I am met with disappointment each time as I extend on the balls of my feet to be reminded it’s not for me. Crouching to my knees with one hand extended onto the wall, my head lowers to find rest on my outstretched arm. Mercy is not found in this wretched place but I continue to look for it.

I wrote the above the evening of Friday December 26, 2014. It would be the next day on Saturday that my wife and I would pick out a headstone for my son Caleb. We were invited over to a friends house for the evening on Friday but as the time got closer to leave, the storm clouds of my thoughts were getting deeper and I had absolutely zero desire to be around anyone. In the last few minutes before we were set to leave, I found myself on the couch with my arm over my face and the back of my head wedged back against the arm and cushion. If I could disappear into the couch, I would have. I asked that Tiffany go on without me.  I had few days and I kept finding myself in an off and on funk. I tried to paint a picture with my words of what I was feeling but it still doesn’t fit right. Even now as I continue my thoughts, I still try to find words to describe where I was that evening.

Saturday would come and the morning came with just as much weight as the night before. Having to pass through another unknown door. We were focused but the closer we got, the more real our situation became. Talking briefly in the days before, we knew we had to do this and it was just finding the right time to do it. Being price conscious, I mentioned,  “do we shop around?” The thought though of prolonging this task lead me to go a place I hear on the local radio often and Tiffany really had no stomach for shopping around. I still had no reference and no experience in picking headstones and Google searches really didn’t do it for me either. After years of hearing ads on the radio, I felt comfortable going to Earl Wenz Inc. in Breinigsville, PA.

I work in Breinigsville and it just seemed right. I only had a mental picture of what this place might be like after years of ads on 790 AM and as we approached and pulled into the driveway, the picture did not match at all with my mental image. There weren’t any parking spaces per say, just a horse shoe stone drive with some puddles scattered about. The property was strewn with stones of all types. I pulled to the side of the driveway and parked. I quickly turned my head and surveyed the lot to digest my first impressions. Because it wasn’t at all like I had imagined, I was a little apprehensive. The business is run out of what seems like a very old house that was converted to be used as office space and very dated from the outside. We guessed what door was the entrance and slowly approached on the old concrete sidewalk. It was warm morning. Almost spring like for being early winter on the calendar. Tiffany knocked and the front door quickly opened and we were greeted by Bill Wenz. He invited us in with a warm smile. After our pleasantries, we were invited into his office.

Tiffany and I were already on edge. This was a big moment for us. We had no idea what to expect and there was certainly and awkwardness about our situation. There wasn’t really any easy way to say why we were there. Had it been for an elderly aging parent or grandparent who past away and had lived a full life, it may have been a bit different than to have to say we were there to pick a stone for our son who tragically past away at just 18 months of age. Even as I type these very words, it’s still hard to believe it’s true. I still have this weird hope I am just in a wicked bad dream and will wake up soon. Anyway, our passage through this next door had already begun and we began to tell our story. After telling Bill about Caleb and our ideas, he wanted to show us some example stones and what he had in mind. The three of us went outside to walk the property. He first took us to a heart stone with a teddy bear wrapped around it. Honestly the whole teddy bear thing did not do it for us. We had something else in mind.

Tiffany began to mention she liked the heart shape but not the bear. She began to tell Bill about her new affinity for hearts since Caleb passed and why she only wears socks with hearts on them. I wasn’t totally familiar with the story but as Tiffany began to describe it, her well filled and began to spill out down her cheeks and onto the ground along with my tears as well. It was an emotional moment. I would like to detail that story in another blog post but as for now we were still on the hunt for the right stone. We continued for some time and found another standalone heart stone that both caught our attention. It was black. We told Bill we really liked it and all but decided that was the one. Bill led us back into the office where we would spend a lot of time discussing options. In that discussion, we talked about the size. The one that we liked was a bit big for one plot. When we told Bill we bought plots on either side of Caleb, he brought up doing one stone for the three of us. This idea intrigued us and continued to explore that option with some custom ideas that Bill would sketch on paper. After several iterations and hours later, we decided on a stone design.

Bill also took us to his shop on the property where all the stone work is done to show us other examples and also the process by which our stone would follow. It was a great moment to actually have a decision made. Bill was great and made the process easier than we thought it might be. He thoughtfully answered all our questions and I am glad we pushed past our initial apprehensions because Bill in my opinion really hit it out of the park. He obviously has very talented artist on staff and I am confident our stone for Caleb will be nothing less than perfect. We wanted something that stood out because of the location where Caleb is buried. There is unobstructed view down the main center isle of the cemetery to Caleb’s resting place and we wanting him to stand out from the rest without being obnoxious in such a small church cemetery. No, it’s not super huge but does need a cement footer. I think the base is just over 5 ft long. I will post pictures when I have them and the stone should be set in the May-June time frame of 2015.

I’ve felt much better since that day. My spirits have been better and without any depression. I think this process was a bug weight lifted off of our shoulders and the next step in our healing process. I can’t say what other people do and or how soon is too soon but we waited a little over two months to get this done and probably would have done it sooner but we had financial obligations to get out of the way and other time constraints. I’m glad we are past this step and I am please so far with our experience with Earl Wenz Inc. I will report back with any updates and will add them to the end of this blog post and perhaps have a standalone post once the stone is set with pictures.

I keep looking up and continue to praise God for all he is doing in our lives. We continue to be refined and continue to covet your prayers. It’s currently New Years Eve and we are looking forward to a bright new year and a fresh start. Our next big milestone will be April 6th, 2015… Caleb’s birthday.


Pieces of Me…

It’s December 25, 2014. I awoke today about 5:30 AM without the ability to fall back to sleep. This is not new and normally my restlessness on this day would be because the ensuing joy that would soon follow as our children discover what they seemingly waited for all year, gifts under the Christmas tree. Today is much different than years past. I haven’t posted a blog recently because of my suffering. I wish there was some easy way for me to express where I am emotionally however human language does so little to convey sorrow. I wanted this blog to be a place for me to journal but I find myself not doing so as not to be some depressing blog where after people read it, they want to run in front of a truck. I still struggle with so many things its hard after not writing for some time not to be so scattered.

It’s so easy when asked, “How are you doing?” to say, “I’m OK.” This type of response though cordial, avoids a deeper human interaction that puts me in a place of vulnerability. It’s not uncommon for most people to say they are OK when they aren’t. Many reasons surround such a response that I will not dwell on as I speculate why other people do the same thing I do. I can only speak for myself. I’ve had many trials in my life and experienced sorrow and anguish at the hand of imperfect people who wounded my soul by turning what I’ve shared as a weapon against me. To be close to people certainly is an art in some respect. Allow a little of me and see where they go with it. I’ve learned through suffering to erect walls and and keep to myself. Discuss the surface within reason and only engage when its necessary. This was all before Caleb came to be.

Losing my son however has taken me to a different state of being. A different level and type of suffering that has no comparison. My deepest challenge is to make sense of it all. As much as I want things to be my old normal, there is little refuge from this new place I find myself in. Now that I’m a pickle, I can never be a cucumber again and this is where I find my challenge. I have these new clothes on and don’t know where they came from. I touch them with my hand and look down and don’t recognize who I am with them on. It’s a stage of grief. It’s been hard lately to see Caleb’s likeness. At first I sought after every photo but now I hide them from my sight. I only glance at them to see what my reaction might be at the time. There are so many reminders that my erected walls are having trouble keeping me safe. Fresh mortar is being mixed while the old is not yet cured. I build higher and faster but gaps in the wall are leading to structural problems and it’s hard to keep up at times.

Human interaction is my weakest point. I tend to hold one inviting hand out while holding the other up saying, “Stop, don’t dare come closer.” I send mixed messages. The truth is, I do not know how to act or what to say a lot of times. People want to know how I am doing but how can I even begin to describe what I can barely comprehend myself? I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on so many things and life goes on whether I can keep up or not. So I’m learning all over again as if I’m an infant. I’m starting all over after discarding everything I thought I knew. learning how to maneuver and navigate new waters with a rougher sea and stronger headwinds in a rickety old boat. Dry land is on the horizon and it’s just a matter of time until I get there. This is not to say that all my moments are like this. I’m functioning at a high level with work and my responsibilities however it’s what occurs between my ears in the meantime that consume me at times.

Some days I just don’t want to be around people. Introverted to a whole new level. At times I’m this way with God too. My faith is strong however it seems all of my relationships are suffering. Early on, I found some writings by John Piper on the Glory of God. I actually wrote about them in a previous blog “The Switch, all for His Glory.” This would compel me to send a note to John piper via his website to thank him. One of his office workers recommend a book of John’s and actually mailed it to me free of charge. The book is titled “Suffering and the sovereignty of God” I am still trying to grasp what I read. This because though I heard of Calvinism, I never really studied it. There was some really good deep theological stuff in that book but at the same time it leaves more questions than answers and I’m working on those now because it challenges a lot of what I thought I knew.

I know I need more devotional time but I sometimes find myself both engaging God while at the same time pulling away… In the same way I treat my carnal relationships. I am all over the map. Sometimes I’m just looking for an escape. If I stay in my hole, no one will find me right? I’ve had bouts of depression and anger and on a whole I am doing better and this blog post covers several weeks of emotion. So don’t leave here thinking I’m in the bottom of the sea. I very much have new joy at times and have happy moments. Those are coming back but it’s the daily weight of my internal dialog that leaves me detached at times. So yes, Both Tiffany and I both very much have our ups and downs. We are in the very early stages of our grief. We try our best to put one foot in front of the other and push on. We are both still very much being refined by God.

Waking up today on Christmas has been exceptionally hard without Caleb. I stood from the top of the stairs looking down on our living room where my children and wife were ready to open presents. I wanted to take pictures and video like normal but there was one gift that was not there. Caleb. In my heart as I walked down the steps, I wanted to turn back to “Caleb’s closet” to bring out his large portrait picture to set near us as if to make him present with us though not possible. It was a fleeting thought but my heart yearned for him to be with us. I feel bad that Caleb has been relegated to a closet but it’s hard to see his likeness right now. More reminders of his absence that only amplifies the pain.

For now there’re new shiny distractions on this date to tend to so as much as I want to seclude myself in writing, my family awaits. The kids seems to be doing rather well with everything. We all miss Caleb in our own way and every day brings new challenges of their own. My wife just completed memorizing the first chapter of James so I also have some catching up to do in that regard as well. I have some time off from work until January 5, 2015 so its a nice break from my day job though I will be working on my home instead as I’m finishing my basement for more living space. I could use some sunny weather too. The sun has been hiding a lot and that’s had a negative affect on me. Is it too much to ask for an early spring? 🙂

So this is my update for now. I can’t say when the next one will be but hope it helps you to understand me a little better and where I’m at. There’s nothing easy about suffering and grief and it’s even harder to put into words. Let’s see where this goes. I will keep looking up and please continue to pray for my family. Thanks!


Author: Andrew Dubas