What If I Knew . . .

What if I knew today would be the last day I had with my child?
Would it transform the words we exchanged?

Would it alter the non-verbal messages I expressed?

Would I focus less energy on the chores left undone?

Would I linger a little longer as we hugged goodbye?
The morning of February 5th, 1996 began like any other in our home. There was no forewarning that it would be my last day at home with our precious son, Scott. But at 11:36 a.m., I received the phone call all parents dreads. Your son has been in an accidentScott was declared brain dead on February 6, 1996.

As I reflect on our last days together . . .
I am grateful for Scott’s humble spirit on February 4th that caused him to seek reconciliation and forgiveness.

I am grateful for our loving and fun conversation that morning.

I am grateful I took time ~ on that particularly hectic day of school for me ~ to say Goodbye and I love you.
Psalm 90:12 reads ~
Teach us to use wisely all the time we have. 

Oh that His Wisdom, His Grace, and His Love would transform relationships in our hearts and homes.

Happy Birthday, Scott

Tomorrow ~

November 23rd

~ is Scott’s birthday. He would be 30 years old.

To be perfectly honest, while I rest in the assurance of where he

is

, I wrestle with the reality that he

is not here

.

Tonight, my heart cries out for Scott to be present in our lives. My ears long to hear his voice. My arms ache to hug him.

I struggle to envision what he might look like, all grown up. I can only see him as he was ~ a fair-haired, freckle-faced teenager . . . with a contagious laugh and smile! I remember one of the first things our grief counselor told us in those early days after Scott’s accident ~

You will forever be the parents of sixteen year old boy.

I did not understand it then, but I know it all too well now.

I have been on this journey of grief long enough to know that I really cannot fight the emotions, or bury the sorrows. So today, I surrendered to my grief. I allowed the tears to come to the surface. What deep wisdom is contained in Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 ~

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

In anticipation of Scott’s birthday, Tony and I drove to one of our favorite local nurseries this afternoon. We thoughtfully selected new plants to add color and life to Scott’s memorial garden in our side yard.

Amy and our grandchildren ~ Kaitlyn, Kyle and Jack ~ will join us in Uncle Scott’s Garden tomorrow. We will prune back the perennials and place in the soil each new sign of life. Our work will be a labor of love as we strive to not lose heart. As we toil to bring beauty to what is seen, we long to bring into focus what is unseen, what is eternal.

In this small way we celebrate the life of our precious Scott and give thanks for the sixteen years we had with him. All the while, we cling to the hope of our blessed reunion when there will be no more sorrow, no more tears, and no more goodbyes.

Happy Birthday, Scott ~

I love you

!

Redecorating the Future with the Past

Scott loved tools from a very young age and to build something with his hands was his ultimate form of play. If there was a job to be done, and he could use his tools, he would beg to do it. If he stayed home from school sick, I knew he would complete some "fix it" job around the house while I was at work.

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During his sophomore year, Scott was very excited to help Dayn, his youth pastor, remodel the old barn our church used as its youth center. It turned out to be one of his last projects before his fatal accident.

When Scott died two months later, the youth group decided to rename the barn,

Scotty's Place

. It was a thoughtful way to remember Scott and also acknowledge the

hole

left in their midst by his absence.

Age and weather eventually took its toll on the old barn, and it became a safety hazard. The leaders of the church told us about the situation a few years ago, and graciously asked for our input. From a logical position, a decision was not hard to make; the building could not remain standing if it could collapse on someone. But from an emotional perspective, the choice to demolish it was complicated; Scotty's Place would be no more. We gave our vote to have the old barn taken down, but we asked to keep some of the old window frames as a memory of Scott and his work on the place.

The day for demolition finally came. Just before the bulldozer moved in, some friends gently removed three window frames from the sides of the old barn. Then, in a matter of minutes, we watched as Scotty's Place became a pile of rubble.

We recently did some painting and redecorating in our house. (Scott would have loved to be there - especially pulling the old built-in bookcase out of the wall!) We gave a fresh coat of paint to one of the window frames from Scotty's Place and decided it looked great as an accent piece hanging by our dining room table.

Like the youth group, there will always be

Scotty's Place

in our hearts and home. Now, there is a window in our home; to provide a glimpse of the past and to remind us to focus on the future, when we will experience a blessed reunion one day.

Scott's Story

The winter of 1996 will never be forgotten by two California families. One will remember with extreme joy; my family, with profound grief.

After receiving mushrooms that had been gathered in the hills near San Francisco in early February, 1996, a mother used the harvest in the family supper. Within hours of ingesting the mushrooms, she and her three children became extremely ill. Examination of the mushrooms revealed they were highly toxic. With massive doses of antibiotics, the woman and her two sons began to show improvement. But the 13-year-old daughter’s health rapidly deteriorated and her liver began to fail. She was placed on the emergency transplant list. Death was eminent.

At last, the family finally received news that a donor match was found for their daughter. That evening, the young girl underwent a transplant graft; one half of a healthy liver was attached to her failing liver. Within days, her liver regenerated, and she eventually made a complete recovery.

About two-hundred miles away, in Reedley, a small community in central California, on the morning of February 5th, my teenage son, Scott, made a grave mistake in the woodshop at his high school. An accomplished woodworker already at the young age of sixteen, he placed a wood file between a tool brace and the oak tabletop which was spinning on the face-plate of a lathe. The file jammed and the tabletop shattered. Pieces of oak became projectiles in the woodshop. One 14-inch piece of wood hit Scott directly in the face.

Our family was forced to contend with the realities of sudden death. After 30 hours on life support, Scott was declared brain dead. Our family made decisions we never could have imagined – to have our precious sixteen-year-old son became an organ donor.

On February 7th, Scott’s liver, heart, kidneys and pancreas were removed to be donated. That evening, a representative from the California Transplant and Donor Network told us some preliminary information regarding the value of of decision. Although no identifying information was given, the representative noted that Scott's liver went to a young girl in the San Francisco area, who was near death after ingesting poisonous mushrooms.

I will never forget the winter of 1996. I remember it with profound grief.

The evening of February 7th, just twenty-four hours after we said goodbye to our son, my husband and I lay awake; the late night news droned on in front our sleepless eyes. We watched as cameras focused on a helicopter landing on the roof of University Medical Center in San Francisco. Physicians stepped out with a small ice chest, and the news commentator said, “A liver match has been found for the young girl who ingested the poisonous mushrooms.” We watched with disbelief as our son’s liver was carried in that small ice chest to be transplanted into another human being.

After hours of surgery, the news carried the excitement of the girl’s father. “Our prayers have been answered.” My husband spoke the words that hung in our hearts, “And our prayers were not.”

Their family joyously celebrated the tremendous gift of life for their only daughter, only sister. Our family tearfully grieved the inconceivable loss of our only son, only brother.

In the days and weeks that followed Scott’s death, I had nowhere to turn except to my faith in God and His precious Word. It was there that I could take my tears and found that He keeps them all in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). It was there that I felt Him draw near to me as I was brokenhearted and crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

I continue to carry this treasure of darkness (Isaiah 45:3) and ask God to show me how I can use my loss for His glory. It is my prayer that through this blog, Redeeming the Future, I can share some of the lessons I learn as I walk this journey of grief; that I can companion others who may feel lost; and that together we can discover pathways through difficult times.

 

Scott William Redfern
November 23, 1979 – February 6, 1996