Monday, September 14, 2009


I really should hate Gainesville.

I shouldn't be able to remember anything good about it.

Pain, fear, and hopelessness are what I should remember about Gainesville. I should only remember not being able to breathe. Not knowing if I would make it another day. I should remember sitting on the window sill at the end of the hall as nurses would walk by and hand me another tissue to dry my tears. I should remember the long nights in the ICU waiting room. Alone. Praying to wake up from a terrible, terrible nightmare.

All I should remember about Gainesville is the pain on the faces of the ones I love. The sympathy in the eyes of the doctors and nurses. The guilt on the faces of Ethan's friends. The look in the eyes of those that loved me that questioned how would I live through it?

I shouldn't be able to remember anything about Gainesville except the sounds. The sounds of crying. The sounds of the ventilator that kept Ethan breathing. The sounds of the voices of strangers asking me if they could help me, when they knew there wasn't anything they could do.

I should only remember the whispers. The whispers that asked how could this have happened to such a nice family. The words of the doctors and their prognosis. That's what I should remember about that place.

I should remember all that instead of the fun visits with Seth and Ethan. All the moving days and trips to Target and Wal-Mart to buy new extension cords and garbage cans. Football games and walks on campus. Trips to bookstores looking for just the right Gator tee-shirt. I should remember driving off and leaving Seth at his new apartment, seeing the anticipation in his eyes, while tears flowed out of mine and Jim's. I should only be able to remember the excitement of bringing Ethan my fried chicken from home, and the joy that comes to a mom from being able to give her son's apartment a good and thorough cleaning.

I should hate Gainesville even though I went to Homecoming with Jim 34 years ago. Even though he took me to his favorite places as his girlfriend.

I should only remember the cold, dark room in the ICU instead of the old, beautiful brick buildings on campus. I should remember the scene from the window outside the ICU waiting room, where I would stand and cry out to God. It was an ugly view of the roof to another part of the hospital. It looked dead. Yes. I should remember that, instead of the beautiful trees that line the sidewalks of UF and the beautiful blue skies of central Florida.

I should hate Gainesville even though Seth had so many wonderful successful experiences there. I should hate that place even though we have a box full of photos that have recorded many smiles, laughter, and memories. I should hate Gainesville even though Seth made more life-long friends there than most people make in their whole lifetime.

I should hate Gainesville even though Seth accomplished something he never thought he would be able to do. . . leave Ethan to go to law school. And, not only did he do it, he did it well. With honors.

Yes. I should hate Gainesville.

That's where my life fell apart.

That's where so many dreams died.

That's where my heart broke.

I should hate Gainesville.

But I don't.

When I was looking at the following pictures I thought about why I don't hate that place. I thought about why I can fly my Gator flag during football season. I thought about it as I wore a Gator shirt out to do errands Saturday. I thought about it when I felt so happy when Seth called me from the stadium with excitement running through his blue and orange veins.

I've thought about it a lot.

And as I thought about how I would explain to others why I don't hate Gainesville, the words to a song came to my mind. I posted it here.

The song is "Unredeemed" by Selah.

"We live in the shadow of the fall,
but the cross says these are all . . .
places where grace is."

The reason I don't hate Gainesville, the reason I can remember the good memories made there, the reason I love to look at pictures in all those boxes, the reason I can fly my Gator flag and can wear the tee-shirt, the reason I can remember the blue skies, the beautiful old trees and the excitement of being in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, the reason I can remember and smile about all of Seth's successes and achievements and the friends he made while in Gainesville... One reason...

God was there.

God was there when my world fell apart.

God was there when so many dreams ended.

God was there when my heart broke.

God was there offering His grace to me.

He was there offering me His goodness that was so undeserved.

It's like the song says. A place where Grace is.

We live in a broken world.

Where mistakes are made.

Where bad things happen.

But... because of The Cross, we can make it.

We can see things differently.

We can see good where there was bad.

Maybe your heart wasn't broken in a certain place. Maybe your "Gainesville" is a bad time, a broken relationship, or just something you were hoping for but something you didn't get.

Because of The Cross, it can all be a place where grace is.

I don't understand it.

I just know it's true.

Because of The Cross.

Some of our Gainesville memories


  1. Thanks once again for the post.

  2. Great post. I enjoyed it. You are amazing.