Thursday, May 24, 2018

Justice Served

Joseph’s trial is over.  Although Raymond Blinn, the man who killed my son, never admitted verbally what he had done, justice has been served. 

No, certainly not the kind of justice that I dreamed of, what I wanted nor even the kind that could ever bring Joseph back, but a peace has been restored, that only God could bring.  And for that I am grateful.

The judge read the determination… “It has been determined by the State of New Jersey, County of Burlington, that in the case of Evelyn and Jeffery Fannell, on behalf of the Estate of Joseph M. Fannell, as the plaintiff vs. Raymond Blinn, the defendant Raymond Blinn was responsible for the wrongful death of Joseph Fannell.”  Not that we needed a court to determine that, but this land is governed by law, as unfair as it may be is, sometimes.

After 2 ½ years those fighting on behalf of Blinn, finally came over to extend their long-awaited sincere condolences and apologies and with them all of a sudden, so did Patricia Blinn.    Before I realized it, she was right there, in my face, greeting me and extending her arms to hug me.
A quick glance and all I saw was my daughter Brandi, as her eyes welled with tears and the next thing all I could do was hug that woman, the wife of the man who killed my son.  First with one arm, which quickly extended to the other.  I grasped her as she expressed her apologies at the loss of my son.  Sharing from a mother-to-mother stance, and that she had a grandson the same age as my Joe.  Here in this moment, what I wanted from the very beginning and never thought possible, not only an apology, but I saw firsthand in myself, the grace and mercy, love and forgiveness of God.  The thing we talk about often but far less often, practice.

I was reminded of so much in that moment.  The forgiveness of God and how in spite of what we do, He always extends His arms (both of them) to hug us.  And God also told me this, in that moment, that I wanted from the very beginning, I did not receive until I let it go.  That it wasn’t until I let go of receiving an apology, that I got one.  It wasn’t until I said out of my mouth, ‘Raymond Blinn didn’t matter anymore,’ that it really didn’t.  The whole time, the last three years, it has been a part of my confession, that driver never apologized.  And it wasn’t until I changed that confession, progress took place.  God reminded me that true forgiveness is receiving an apology that you will never get. And that’s what I did when I finally said, “I don’t care about the apology.”

And then God said this.  And I often tell women how special they are in the eyes of God.  I say it to the women in my church, I say it to the women at the Tea, however and as much as I’m led to.  Women really are special in the eyes of God.  We have His heart.  God said, it was because of Abigail, the wife of Nabal, that David did not kill him.  She went ahead and asked for mercy on the behalf of her husband. And because of that, her husband survived.  God said it was because of Patricia Blinn, that her husband received the grace he had been given.  It was because of her that he received forgiveness.

And it was because of God, that I was able to extend it.  Only God.

God can do nothing for me, until I recognize the limit of what I can do for myself as a human being, which allows Him to do the impossible.    

Forgiving, letting go and extending grace to the man who killed my son. 

He is forgiven, because I am.  And because I am forgiven, I am free.  Justice (for me) has been served.  And I believe that is what Joseph would want for any one of us.

Sleep in peace my Joe.

His mom, and the Lord’s servant,
Sis. E

Joseph Malik Fannell
January 14, 1993 - June 5, 2015

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I Hate Waking Up Like This

Woke up this morning with an all too familiar weight.  A heaviness that comes in waves and sits on me.  Collapsing me into seemingly a fetal position, rigid and unable to move.  I hate waking up liking this.

Just coming off a trip to the Dominican Republic, Las Terrenas, known for its scenic landscapes, white sand beaches and clear water.  For me it was the land of the beautiful beaches.  Mi Paraiso, I called it.  Stunning and breathtaking.  Seems as though no matter where I am, or where I go, I will not ever and cannot escape the precious memory of my Joseph.  Not that I will want to, ever… But even there he was in my thoughts as I compared where I was, my paradise to his.  And I will certainly take his any day.

There are just some days that the memory becomes overwhelming.  Locking me back to the day.  I wake up and the first thing I sense is his absence.  How his young and promising life was stripped away on that road.  Taken by a man that lived his…

I remember the day I was told, the phone call I received, as if it were yesterday.  It doesn’t matter how long it’s been (for anyone on this road called grief), two years, forty-five days, seven months… the day is like yesterday.  The whole scene plays over in my head as if it’s a recording, never missing a beat.  “You need to make your way back home,” the doctor told me over the phone, as I was over 800 miles away.  The anguish of knowing I needed to get to him, immediately, flooded my soul.

There’s no more video game playing late at night, as I hear him laughing with his friends through the Xbox.  There’s no singing in the shower, when I walk in the hallway near his bathroom.  His room is not messy anymore and I don’t have to tell him, “Joe, pick that stuff up off the floor.”  He left his room neat that last day, signifying even the more, he was not in a rush to work that morning.  He was on time.  For an appointment he didn’t even know he had.  Sigh.

Joseph is not in his room.  He is not home.  He is not here.  And his absence is so very present this morning.  Again.

I remember my last birthday with him, just days before the “incident.” (If only I could turn back time).  The gift he gave me, which at first, I didn’t understand and let him know.  But grateful I had the wherewithal to thank him.  I treasure that gift.  The green duffel bag he gave me, because my favorite color was green.  He knew that.

I am reminded this morning of the last words from him, as I said goodbye that Sunday night, “I love you Mom.”   And that would be all I would hear, as he was gone the following Thursday.  Joseph was funny that way, he didn’t like me checking in on him, when I was away, and so, this time, I didn’t.

I wake up and I remember every. single. detail.   And it still hurts as the reality continues to settle in.  Continues to dig its hole.  Continues to get comfortable.  This is it.  Joseph is gone and try as I might to escape, these days will always be on the horizon and I am forced to accept what I never imagined to be.

On days like this, I wake up and I miss him with every breath that I take.  Every fiber of my being yearns to see him, to hold him, to hear his voice and to feel his bear hug.  Every breath that I take, it feels like I’m gasping for air and it hurts.  To breathe.

And I HATE waking up to this.

In the Shadow of Grief,

Sis. E and Joseph’s mom

Joseph Malik Fannell
1/14/93 – 6/5/15
“Forever 22”

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Filled with His Light

Read something this morning: "Your faith struggles because it sees that moments of splendor, when your spirit is filled with Him, are immediately followed by the deepest darkness."

This text comes from a daily devotional I just purchased and began reading for the New Year. Today those words and others jumped at me, in particular "I fill you to the full with My light so that I can uphold you in the darkness."

Do not forsake the time you have with the Lord, even if a few moments. Those moments are your life. The Word is your life.  God will speak words to you that will very often bring you over and through your trials. It may appear that it is not something you need to hear at that very instant, but believe God and know, it is yet something your spirit needs to hear. Allow Him to speak to you, to minister to you. In that quiet time, let Him show you His goodness. Let Him remind you of Who He is and what He is has brought you through.

I say all this to say this... before Joseph died, God was preparing me. He was filling me up with His spirit, filling me up with His power. Filling me up with His Word. Filling me with His light. 'In the darkness, My light shines bright.' Little did I know, He was strengthening me for the darkness that was to come. So, when it hit, when Joseph was killed, and that wave of darkness tried to drown me, dealing with Joseph's death, his funeral, the burial, and even all the human betrayal that came afterwards; I didn't lose it. I was not destroyed.  Because God had filled me with His light. And that light overcame that darkness.

Yes, it might have looked a little dim at first, but it was yet enough. For even in the deepest darkness, if there is a flicker of light it will be seen.  That darkness is not enough to keep you in the dark with just a little bit of light.  So, though that darkness came, God's light in me overshadowed it by far and caused me to live.

God's Word is true, just as this devotional spoke to me today, "the time in the descent of darkness is temporary. It's a time that always ends in triumph."  Things may not be what you want them to be.  You may find yourself in the dark.  But you’re yet here, because that light in you overcomes that darkness.  And though you are there today, it’s only temporary.  You will get through it.  For thanks be to God Who ALWAYS causes us to triumph in Christ Jesus, the Light of the world!

And there shall be glory after this.

'Cause God is real, (in the darkness) and in the shadow of grief,
Still a servant of the Lord, and Joseph’s mom

Sis. E

In memory of
Joseph Malik Fannell
1/14/93 – 6/5/15