Judson's Legacy

When You Show Up

Judson's Memorial Service

I’ve heard people describe how days like these can be a blur with an existential feeling of hovering above the experience rather than being central to it—I certainly encountered this at our son’s memorial service; much of the day felt illusory and impossible to fathom, as if reality had been suspended. But there is something etched in my memory, even seven years later. I remember the faces. I remember who was present. I can recall the tears, the hugs, the gentle touches, the sensitive smiles…the love. I may not remember the words people spoke to me, but I remember who was there to speak them.

I lucidly recall who forfeited their usual Monday to enter the devastation of death with our family and to honor our son that hallowed day in November. For many it wasn’t convenient, it wasn’t easy, they had to cancel plans, they had to make arrangements, they had to travel distances. But they did. And I remember…because it meant everything to me.

Last month Drake and I attended two separate memorial services for little girls who lost their lives to Krabbe Disease. We hopped on a flight to Kentucky to honor Anna and then two weeks later found ourselves on another plane to Montreal, Quebec to honor Lauren. We wanted to be there—because we remember—we remember the value of presence in that moment.

Of course memorial services draw Drake and I back into our own experience of loss and kick up excruciating memories, and they are by nature emotionally taxing, but that wasn’t the essence of our experience on these trips; they were, in fact, incredibly life-giving. I found myself in awe of the privilege to be present with these families during their darkest hours.  I found myself feeling honored to be invited into their grief and pain. I found my heart and soul being transformed by the opportunity to enter their world. This was real life when so much of the day-to-day can lack substance and depth. It was a gift to be present.

Our dear friends from Texas were visiting this weekend; these are friends who had hopped on a plane to be present with us when Jud died. They asked about the memorial trips we took last month. As I was sharing with them about the profound sense of honor and privilege we experienced by being invited into the lives of these families gripped by the loss of their child, our friend interrupted me with tears in her eyes and a weightiness to her words, “Christina…that is exactly how we felt. We were so blessed to be invited into your pain and be present with you at that time.”

I choked back tears. “Thank you,” I cried, “Thank you for being there.”

And therein lies this beautiful paradox; when we make the sacrificial choices to engage the mess, to respond to the call, to enter the dark places of someone else’s world, we find unimaginable blessings that can only arise from being present. We discover the grace and beauty found in the the most painful, raw corners of life.

So when you show up to the hospital, or the memorial service, or enter into the center of someone’s pain, your presence will be remembered, and quite possibly you might be surprised by the life-giving gifts that can only come from being present.


16 Responses to "When You Show Up"

  1. Christina your words always draw the message right out of the heart!

  2. olopop23 says:

    I totally understand. After so many military funerals and memorial services I have been to in the last decade, I was humbled to be in the presence of those family members. On another level, it brought my wife and I closer together, understanding the tenderness in life. It also helped my oldest son come to an understanding of how life is so fragile when I took him to the funeral of 17 Navy SEAL Heroes buried next to each other at Arlington National Cemetery. I agree, we DO find unimaginable blessings that can only arise from being present.

  3. Beautiful! May you continue to be a blessing to others as our Lird and Savior uses you and your family, and ever so slowly replaces your everlasting saddness with a new joy. God bless you all

  4. So what do you feel is the best way to show up when you live across the country, but can't afford a plane ticket. Honestly speaking, will cards, flowers, gifts, etc. be helpful? Or is opening the mail and dealing with deliveries more painful than beneficial? Thoughts? Opinions?

    • Judson's Legacy says:

      I absolutely LOVE this question! Thank you for asking. To be frank, the cards, flowers, and gifts might get missed right at the time of the service because so many people send them at that time (which is important)! But I would actually recommend sending these things a month or two later to show that you are still remembering them and thinking of them even after time has passed. That said, I think you have to get creative to “show up” when you can’t actually be present. I would send a meaningful photo or video that day (wearing something or doing something in to honor the person), as if you were there. Somehow show them that you have taken time out of your day to “be present” with them if if you can’t be there in person. It truly means the world!

  5. What a blessing you are…Beautiful words..Thank You..

  6. Christina Adelseck Levasheff , thank you! Dear friends of mine are dealing with Krabbe an entire country away and on her bad days it aches my heart that I can't do something more to help. I hate doing my own laundry and dishes, but if they lived closer, I would gladly do theirs so they could just cuddle their baby!

    • Judson's Legacy says:

      Valerie Millikan​ … your heart to want to love from a distance is such a gift! Any ways you can keep reminding her that you ache with her, I know will be received as such a gift! <3

  7. The ministry of presence-precious, necessary and healing. Rising up to the challenge and being community. Christina this is a beautiful witness to what Love requires.

  8. Wendy Turney says:

    I remember so vividly your presence with us on the day that our JT died. It was such a comfort to have you there, and you helped in so many ways just with small suggestions as you journeyed with us. You will forever be a sister to my heart and soul and I love you deeply!

    • Judson's Legacy says:

      I will forever treasure my time with JT and the gift of being present with him when he passed from death to life. Love you so much, Wendy!

  9. Your little guy was so precious! I feel so much sadness. He was such a bright and beautiful little man.

  10. Wow. I have been following closely the lives of several Krabbes kids. I have placed them on our church prayer list, reposted their stories over and over, and on numerous occasions have asked my Facebook friends to stop and pray just for a moment. These break my heart. The families are amazingly strong and deeply thankful for the journey God has given them. I find so much value in the sharing of your stories. Please know that you are not alone as there are many who have been touched by your lives. And your children have connected so many people together for a cause that normally would never have met. God bless each of you. Thank you for allowing us to walk with you.

    • Judson's Legacy says:

      Rebecca…thank you for being a friend to so many Krabbe families; it really means SO much! By engaging the messiness and struggles of life through these precious kids, you are, indeed, walking alongside them in their pain. Blessings to you!

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