My husband John came downstairs today and said, “Is today the day?”
I paused for a moment and then he whispered, “You know, December 10th” and then wrapped his arms around me.
I tell you what, friends—John Bultema is a gift.
In case you’re wondering what the big deal is about December 10th, read on.
These words were penned a few years ago on this date, but you’ll soon understand why December 10 is my hardest, saddest day ever….
It happened already this morning.
I came downstairs early while the house was still dark, quietly clicked on the TV, and began watching the news to plan my day.
Would they cancel school because of the snow? Would I have hot lunch duty? Could I keep my coffee date with a friend? And then, suddenly on the screen of my TV, they displayed the date, “December 10th.”
My stomach formed a deep, painful knot and the tears began to flow.
Today’s date, “December 10th” represents to me—
- suffocating pain
- unimaginable loss
- raw, gut-wrenching grief
I’ve tried to reframe the day, sleep it away, pretend it doesn’t exist.
Stuffing doesn’t work, nor does numbing.
My heart and mind are triggered back to that painful night instantly when I see the date.
December 10th wasn’t always such a hard day.
For many weeks, we were eagerly and joyfully anticipating the 10th of December.
My fiance David and I were in the midst of planning our upcoming May 1st dream wedding.
I selected my beautiful, glittery wedding dress, joy-filled bridesmaids, and maid of honor. We booked the church and reception hall and DJ. David purchased my sparkly ring.
We had many other wedding details yet to plan.
However, I also had a detailed licensing review at work to be completed on December 10th. Although I was looking forward to wedding planning, I needed to focus on my work project first. Once finished, I could give the wedding specifics my all.
And with one phone call everything changed.
I arrived at my parents home after my licensing review on December 10, 1998 to pick up my 4 year old son Jake. Whew! I can start planning my wedding now. Yippee!
David called to see how everything went at work. “Fabulous,” I enthusiastically shared.
He wanted to hear all the particulars, but instead I insisted David wrap things up at work so I could tell him in person. It was 5:15 PM.
“Great,” David replied. “I need to check on one more thing at work, see if your brother Bryan is here, and then I’ll be by to pick up you and Jake as soon as I can. Let’s go out and celebrate! I should be there in 30 minutes.”
I stretched out on the couch, exhausted, waiting for David to come and celebrate with me.
He never came.
Even though I slightly dozed off on the couch, I heard the phone ring. And then I heard the whispering. My Mom and Dad came in the family room and stood over me. “Cindy,” my mom shared, “there’s been an accident. Your brother Bryan just called from work. David’s been in an accident.”
Shoot! We were supposed to go to the Michael W. Smith concert tomorrow. Did he break his arm? Would we need to give away our tickets? No big deal. I’d spend the weekend in a hospital chair near his bed if needed.
Wherever David was is where I wanted to be.
“Where is he?” I asked. Did I need to meet him at the hospital? Could I drive him there myself?
“Cindy, we just need to pray,” my Mom delicately responded.
Suddenly I realized David didn’t just break his arm. I ran upstairs and began calling my friends to pray. I had only been a Christian for two years, but I could tell in my Mom’s voice something was wrong. We needed prayer. And quickly.
While I was on the other phone line with a friend, my brother Bryan called.
“How is he, Bry?” I asked.
“Cindy, let me talk to Mom.”
“No, Bry, first tell me how David is. Do I need to come to work? Is he already at the hospital?”
“Cindy, let me talk to Mom….”
“Bry, just tell me…”
…and it was at that moment my brother shared the painful, life altering, gut-wrenching words that have changed my life forever.
“I’m sorry Cindy, David’s gone….”
I tumbled down the stairs weeping and wailing. My parents, unaware that Bryan had called, watched helplessly as I, their only daughter, threw myself in a heap on their hard wood floor and began pounding my fists violently into the ground.
“No! No! No!” was all I could cry out loudly.
Before long, my parents’ home was filled with people of all shapes and sizes.
- My dear friend Michele…who “just knew” to come, even before she heard the tragic update.
- Grief counselors.
- The sheriff.
- My beloved boss Betty.
- My pastor and his wife.
- Many concerned others.
At one point, I cleared everyone out of the room, except my pastor friend Rob.
We sat on my parents’ foyer steps while I wept, twinkling lights shimmering behind us. Through my sobs I asked my pastor over and over again, “Why? Why? Why would God allow this?”
David often said he would give his life for just one person to know Jesus.
WHY would God take him home?
This painful, long, heart-breaking night is what I remember every time I see or hear “December 10th.”
In an instant, I am back to my parents’ home. I know by heart all the sounds. I remember the loss. I feel the extreme, gut-wrenching pain.
Thank you, dear bloggy friends, for allowing me to share this part of my journey with you. God does not waste our pain—of this, I am sure.
And thank you to my husband John for his extra sensitivity and grace on this day. John is God’s special gift to me.
May we experience all that He has for us today—the joy, the sadness, the good, the hard.
Although we don’t know what the future holds, we do know the One who holds the future…and He is faithful and loving and true.
He is with us in the merry times, and He is with us in the mess. Of this I am sure.
….repost from the archives
P.S. Years ago I was asked to share my journey on the Day of Discovery TV program. For more of this story — including treasured pictures and how God has used this painful night for His purposes — you can watch the journey here. Here’s a sneak peek: