My heart is in my stomach. I’ve got lead in my veins. I step in the shower and try to scrub away all the painful thoughts. Scrub my head so hard my scalp is raw. Rub my body down until my arms are sore. Let the water rain down my face and I don’t even mind. Sit down, I’m panicking, elbow on my knees, I can’t even weep. Turn the water off. Dry my body off. Send a message, short and to the point, try to walk in love and not in fear or anger. I get so shaky I can’t stop my legs from breaking my balance. I lay down. Shake more violently, pray to God for some inner peace. Feel so alone and no one can see. Reaching out feels desperate, but I need it. Turn to my notes in my phone to write because it’s easy, but it can’t give me a hug now. It can’t talk me down. It can’t give me council, but it’s half past 1 in the morning and I feel like nothing is working. My heart rate is slowing to normal, my eyes grow heavier and God let’s me know he has me when I feel cold. He has me when I feel old. He has me when I think I should be farther along then I am. He has me when I’m desperately holding onto all that I know. He’s always faithful, always stable. He is The rock on which I stand.
The question is not of who won or who lost. The question is why did the cancer have to be such a sore looser? My friend, Trevor is home with Jesus.
It’s easy to say clichés like heaven couldn’t spend another minute without him or he’s in a better place and we’ll see him again one day. It’s easy because they’re true, but it doesn’t make the ache any softer for a wife who finds herself missing her best friend and her lover; her some much more then I could ever ponder. I know the little I knew him in comparison leaves an ache in my chest and tears in my eyes. My wishes to spend more time, write music and sing with him like we planned before the his voice was, for those dreams, silenced. But heaven and hell both know that his voice could not be silenced! He climbed higher then Everest, and reached father then the coast and around the world with his smile, his passion, his joyful exuberance. His faith was stronger than anything I’d ever seen and his gentleness was to the atomic level, only to be rivaled by his compassion like the ocean and his love vibrant and present as color itself. He thought deeply, dreamed wildly, followed his dreams so rigidly and tenaciously, he would push through steadily until the task was complete.
And though I struggle at moments to breath, I can’t imagine the chest of his Family who’s breath can only be replaced as the cries of sadness and grief are retracted forcefully to be followed by silence or tears or choking over the next emotion unable to be predicted or seen. Their family member who’s life on earth was not left unlived has been cut shorter then they would have ever imagined or expected. But his legacy and memories will never fade. He will never cease to be missed. They will know laughter again. They will breath easier, but he will always be a part of them. Grief will never become past tense, but the tension of that grief will loosen its grip for most days.
The thing of it is, we do not want to forget. The future is mourned not because he’s not with this moment, but because tomorrow’s reality is the same as today’s. The dreams made with him are now ours to trail blaze. In his memory, we gaze into what our friend would have done if he had even one more day. We must not waist our precious days in fear of what might happen. What if the things we set our minds to don’t turn out as sweet as we wished them to.
But what will happen when we look at ourselves, years later, in awe of a man who lived his life as closely to Jesus as he ever could, at that’s all we do? Will we not be moved to live more beautifully, love more purely, fight more passionately, and dream more wildly?
Or will we let ourselves return only wishing, but never being?
Trevor has changed my life. The hours I’ve spent with him have been few and far between, but they were rich in beauty, vibrantly refreshing, enlightening and full of permission to dream. I met him in 2015 and I say goodbye on the 24th day of June in 2019.
It has not fully set in, and I can’t begin to think I could scratch the surface of how special he is, but this is my account of Trevor David Heinrich:
He greeted me with sincerity, shared moments intentionally, exchanged art and encouragement mutually and humbly. He dreamed and encouraged me to dream with faith I hadn’t seen, laughed uncontrollably. He rock climbed skillfully and never gave up, pulling me to become better, even before his dream to climb to Everest’s peak. He let me crash on his couch, sat down with me to have coffee, mid hike accross the US as he raised money. He shared his friends in a Bible study and sat with me, embraced me, and affirmed me in the man I was and was to be. We watched a play at Sight and Sound before he would work there. We climbed some more after he had been going more head on towards his Everest dreams. I sat with him after I got him ice cream. We ate it together. It was peanut butter cup. It was supposed to be dairy free, but that accident became his cheat in his week. We laughed so hard, after he said, “This is so good! I can’t believe it’s dairy free!” We looked at the package, noticed my mistake and lost it. I felt bad as his laughter was interrupted by pain and coughing, but these are some of the moments I never want to release. I saw him marry the woman of his dreams. The light in his eyes could have challenged the sun as she walked towards him; when she took his name. I cut his hair, and spent time with him and his wife. He showed me the things that he was still passionately doing. A gift he was making for his beauty. The Kombucha bottle anticlimactically did not explode, but surely made a mess. Stella and him alike encouraged me and showed me true love and sacrifice. I prayed for him as I followed his story. He never let himself get bitter. He never lost his smile; that smile no one can forget. His heart was the purest. I wish I could have spent more time with him. I wish I could go back and play the times we did have, but my times with him are only a sliver his story that show how amazing he is. His legacy will not quickly fade, and his impact will surely never be counted or measured; it will continue to grow day by day.
The cancer took his life on earth, but it did not take his spirit. Trevor won the race. He is healed. He is whole.
When your shoulder no longer feels like a safe place to land; When you still give your heart, but you can’t give a hand; When your mouth wants to speak, but you know the words won’t stand; Is there anything to do when your love is like sand?
When your grace feels abrasive, and your peace feels like distance; When your love leaves a bitter aftertaste, Is there any way to comfort their soul?
When what you gave was at one time able to be taken and used like gasoline and now it’s as good as water in a gas tank, is all hope lost?
When a friend, or lover or family member is no longer able to see you like they used to, you must let another love them altogether. You must let go of the tether. It’s no longer held in their hand, it’s around their neck. To hold on is to cause them pain, no matter how much you’re trying to help, you’re stopping the flow of oxygen to their brain.
Love like a lighthouse. If they sail away, may they find another beacon to guide them, but stay steadfast in who you are. Shine brighter and brighter. Fuel your light, grow stronger in who you are. If they let you in again, you will both be better. If they move along, pray them onward.
You can’t hold them to you, let go of their anchor. Pray as they go. Show love when they let you. Don’t stop living, don’t stop growing. Please let them go, stop fighting and groping. You’re stunting their growth, you won’t bring them healing. Just let them go, you’re no longer shelter. Let them get clear of the storm, the waves are unbearable, let go, let go, LET GO!
And as you finally let them drift away, the sky might not clear. They might not cross over the horizon like you feared, but if they do, they’re out of your grasp, and there’s no longer a thing you can do.
Sometimes to love is to let go; if it’s your grasp today and your heart later, so be it. If your heart never stops singing for the one you’re releasing, may it be a song as free as the breeze, with your heart beyond a fantasy of what could be and into a realm where love transcends feelings.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Today, I hugged a lady that, last time I saw her, yelled at me for something so silly, I couldn’t even believe. Her face was red then, but it was also red today. Last time, it was from rage, and today from pain, because her husband has now two months been in the grave, almost to the day.
I had a chorus teacher in high school who was known for excellence, her grit, and for making students cry or at least want to quit any activity she would lead. I also know that before she passed onto the other side, she flourished in a place she didn’t choose to show often; in compassion. I saw her become love out loud and as her body withered down and the cancer tried to drown her out, her joy through the pain would grow stronger and stronger, even to her last day.
One time, I lost my dog. Before this happened, I would have privately mocked someone who blubbered over such a thing. I almost had him a year when I heard he was hit by a car. I cried so hard, screamed so loud, and could not speak; when I would try, I would only wheeze. I never felt that way before that day. I was broken. I could not alter what had happened. My heart has broken since through the death of friends, the moving away of my twin, and relationships that would finish.
And isn’t it interesting how in the darkest hours and seasons of grieving, that the ugliness in us takes a season of receding? Our eyes are open to greater things if we recognize that life is so much shorter then we like to credit it for, and eternity is so much grater then holding onto pain.
Understanding trumps rage, compassion smacks power in the face, and taking on someone’s pain as your pain is no kin to mockery.
A hug beat a fist, a listening ear can save a life, and a hand can hold someone’s world from crashing down.
Let the things that seem to break you down hold weight in your freedom and don’t loose it when you’re on the other side.
Let it lead you to a life that remembers pain is not permanent, but love and time are, in fact, the only things that can really heal that.
This poem is a tribute to anyone who has lost someone they loved. This year has been full of young lives lost, as well as full lives completed. Where grief resides, may there also be peace.
Goodbye. This isn’t for you, because you’re gone. It’s for me, because I’m left here with not you, but a shell of memories, beautiful and unique. There is no thing that could make this goodbye easier, there is no thing that could bring back normality. Normal will not return, but change. Once routine comes back into play and I start to come to grips with the fact that your voice will not be there to tell me good morning or that that shirt really doesn’t compliment me; That might be the time that normal is rewritten, but not the same, come sun or come rain, life has changed.
Goodbye to the things you did in secret or at least the things you thought no one had seen. To the infection of laughter in the way only you could bring. Our laughter will not cease, but it will never be the same. The jokes you told will be infused with longing, and remembering. It will no longer be just a joke or a quote, but a cherished moment in time, internally narrated in your voice.
Oh your voice, I want to remember it. Please, God. I don’t want to say goodbye to your voice. I know I will always recognize it, if technology replays it, but I don’t want to forget the way you said my name. The way it sounded when you were sick, or laughing, or when you sang; and not just on stage, but how you sang in the shower.
Goodbye is such an intimate word, and I utter it at a time, by you, it will not be heard, and if goodbye is forever, I may not bare the pain of it, but if goodbye is truly temporal, (and between us, I fully believe it is) then I can only wait until we meet again, and the hello will be sweeter than my hello has ever been.