Ten years ago today, a beautiful Saturday morning turned into one of my darkest days.
As I opened the door to the police, I knew that something serious had happened... either my parents (who were travelling the South Island of New Zealand) or my brother (who was with friends), were seriously harmed.
I remember going into shock as the policeman reluctantly told me that my brother had died at a dance party on an island. He was only a few weeks away from his 25th birthday. I remember asking why no one else had died, only him.
The most difficult thing I have ever done was phoning my mum to tell her. As her cheery voice answered the phone I remember contemplating not telling her... I figured that if she didn't know then she would stay happy.
That day ended up being one of the longest days in my life. The main feeling I remember was loneliness. My husband was busy keeping the onslaught of media at bay and our 9 month old son occupied. All I wanted was to see my mum and dad.
I had lost my one and only sibling, my special big brother.
Our house slowly filled with family and friends. Food, hugs and tears abounded. I still felt alone.
Finally late that night my parents arrived home and we embraced and cried. From that moment I really started to grieve.
It was all over the news that week. I remember seeing a shot on tv of a body bag being rolled on a stretcher from a boat to a warf. It felt surreal realizing that it was my brother's body in there.
A few nights later, as I lay in my bed in the darkness, the deep sobs began, along with the angry questions to God. Everything seemed hopeless. Waking up each morning only brought the painful realisation of what had happened. As I cried out to Him, He clearly whispered back to my spirit... only a sentence... but it was enough.
I still had my questions, I still had my grieving to do... I still felt angry and things did not make sense. But something deep inside me had changed during the deepest and darkest moments... His words had brought peace to my soul... and hope.
Ten years have passed, yet sometimes it feels like it was only yesterday that I said goodbye to my brother as he left for his trip. The night before he left I had cooked him a meal... if only I'd known it would be our last together.
I wish I'd told him how precious he was to me. I wish I'd told him that I loved him so much.
Since that day, we have all grown up, more children have been born, older loved ones have passed on... but the memories are still strong.
Sometimes they come suddenly, riding on a song, a fragrance, a place or a familiar feeling.
But there is one thing I will never forget... that day when darkness came in like a flood, peace and hope came riding in after it, and they’ve never left.
"I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." John 14:27 (NLT)
Forever loved, Jamie Lawrence Langridge