Day 6: Jesus & Johnny Cash

When I first started doing #AdamsActs, four years ago now, I didn't really know what I was getting myself into. I think my goal was to create a more positive outlet for my grief than, well, spiraling into clinical depression. I didn't really realize it at the time, but what I really needed was the opportunity to process my grief as an adult for, probably, the first time. My oldest daughter, Annalee, just started middle school. She is the exact same age that I was when Adam was killed. I cannot imagine her enduring the traumas that I endured at her age. I cannot imagine her calling family friends to inform them of such a tragic event. I cannot picture her standing in front of a court room, asking a judge for the maximum penalty for her sibling's killer. I cannot bear to imagine her private grief, her guilt for surviving when her sibling did not.

I can't believe that I did those things. And honestly, I can't believe that it took me this long to realize that inside, I was still grieving like a middle schooler. When you always feel a thing, it's hard to identify that thing as dysfunctional. And the "thing" I always felt was this crushing, devastating belief that I should have been the one to go. That God made a mistake, and it was me who should have died. Adam was so good. 

There was a scene in the movie Walk the Line about the life of Johnny Cash, where he and June Carter are talking about Johnny's older brother, Jack, who died from an accident with a table saw. In the scene, Johnny is just coming to after detoxing from a long-battled addiction to various pills and narcotics. He sees that June is by his side, despite everything he has done to make a mess of his life. He looks at her and says, "You're an angel." And the rest goes like this:

June: No, I'm not
Johnny: You've been there with me.
June: I had a friend who needed help. You're my friend.
Johnny: But I've done so many bad things.
June: You've done a few, that's true.
Johnny: My Daddy's right. It should have been me on that saw. Jack was so good. He would have done so many good things. What have I done? Just hurt everybody I know. I know I've hurt you. I'm nothin'.
June: You're not nothin'. You are not nothin'. You're a good man, and God has given you a second chance to make things right, John. This is your chance, honey.

I love that scene. I love it, because I know what it's like to look at all your sins and your flaws and to think, "I shoulda been the one on that saw." I could not help but see my life, my worth, my circumstances through this lens of loss and guilt and grief. It was this notch that had been cut out of my world... and I could not see or hear beyond what was missing. When something so big and central is lost at such a formative time in one's life, it frames everything else and perspective gets lost. That is what it was like for me all these years, except I didn't know it. 

So, when I started focusing my grief outward, and really letting God's promises of healing and redemption take root inward... I healed in a way that I never had as a girl. I've done some bad things, that's true. But, there is nothing better than the moment when June Carter tells Johnny Cash that God's second chances are bigger than the things he done wrong. 

Now, Day 6.

Jay and I had an appointment with the audiologist because he lost one of his hearing aids. It's a big deal, not being able to hear everything everyone else takes for granted. So, the hearing aids are a huge gift, and so are the people who make it possible for him to hear. For my first act of kindness, I give you this video of the first time our son could hear everything for the first time. It's had over 170k views. Because it's precious. Expect to sob...

Okay, don't these people deserve some treats!?

We thought so too.

Jay was super excited!

But, mostly because he thought we were going to eat those treats for dinner at the audiologist's office. He was less excited when I explained those were not his dinner.

Apart from one weak moment when he didn't like the ear mold goop, and said that the audiologist "breaked him," he did awesome, got fitted for his new, neon yellow ear molds and had his hearing re-tested and his hearing aid re-programmed as a result. 

The interesting thing about Jay's hearing loss is that she referred to it as "notch hearing loss." This means that most of his hearing is in the normal range to mild hearing loss, but at a certain frequency, there is this notch that just sort of cuts out for him. Within that notch, are several common speech sounds and multiple every day things that he cannot hear. It is the strangest thing to see one's child respond during a test to a barely audible whisper at one frequency, but not even register a louder sound of a different frequency. It's like an auditory blind spot. 

Doing these acts of kindness, publicly grieving and re-processing Adam's death as an adult has been a lot like getting hearing aids for the first time. It's as if I discovered this "notch," a child's grief that won't ever go away, but needed to be redefined and reprogrammed in order to function properly. It was my Johnny Cash moment, where I had an opportunity to keep hating myself and hurting people... or I could accept that God's grace really was sufficient. And so I did, and so it is.

It's not really about me, it's not really about doing for others, it's not even really about Adam. It's about the God Adam loved. It's about his Jesus, it's about my Jesus.  It has been a lot of things, but a big part of it is confessing the sin of unbelief. I have claimed to have faith in a God that I believed made a mistake. I did not trust and I did not let him lead. Not when it came to this notch of pain... the blindspot in my faith. 

June told Johnny that "you can't walk no line." And that's what this is about, deciding not to walk the line any more. 

"How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man." - Johnny Cash