July 15, 1979 The Pizza Planet, Amarillo Texas
We couldn’t quit staring into each other’s eyes. And I was sure everyone in the popular Texas Panhandle pizza restaurant was staring at us staring into each other’s eyes. I was sure that they could see that we were completely enamored with each other–young, in love and with nothing but dreams and hopes for a glorious future.
The young, vibrant 23-year-old blonde beauty that I couldn’t take my eyes off of was my fiance of only three days. We had just ordered our budget dinner of a thin crust pizza supreme only hours after announcing our intentions to Cindy’s parents. Despite the fact that my fiance and I had only known each other for three weeks, her parents and her sister had expressed joy at our engagement and immediately welcomed me as a new “son” into the family. Part of the reason for their lack of concern was that Cindy and I had decided to have a lengthy engagement of ten months prior to the wedding.
At that moment, no person in the world meant so much to me, my life and my hopes for the future as Cindy with her blue eyes looking intently back at me full of love and hope. I could not take my eyes away from her.
June 23, 1991 Our living room, Bedford, Texas
“Do you want to hold her?” Cindy said as she looked into my eyes and I back into hers.
I didn’t hesitate one moment. “Yes!” I said as a reached with excitement to take six week old infant Katie who had become our third child and our second daughter only hours earlier. As I took my adopted daughter into my arms and began to swell with pride, she awoke from her nap and slowly opened her eyes to look around.
Then our eyes locked. Although my eyes welled with tears of joy, I did not break from looking deeply into those curious, amazingly dark brown eyes. At that moment I knew that an eternal bond, an indestructible relationship had commenced between father and daughter. In that moment I felt love, hope and filled with dreams of a wonderful future for us. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.
Almost nineteen years have passed since I have looked into the eyes of my wife Cindy and my two-year old daughter Katie. Almost nineteen years since the horrific traffic accident that took their lives in May 1993…leaving a devastated father, his twelve-year son Christian and nine-year old daughter Sarah behind to mourn the losses. We’ve missed looking into those eyes.
But it is memories of those wonderful eyes, the lives we shared and the hopes that we have together that keeps me and my family going on in our grief. As people of faith, we are convinced that the promise of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 will come about: That one day the Lord will announce that He is sending His Son to gather up all those who are asleep in Christ with those who are still alive in Christ to take them all home to heaven for a wonderful family reunion.
My vision that keeps me going every day is that once all of us are gathered to live with God and His Son in Heaven, that I will eventually scan the crowd for familiar faces. I’ll see my mother and all those relatives and friends who had left this earthly life before me. Then I will see two really familiar, loving faces and two loving sets of eyes….my wife Cindy and my daughter Katie.
I also envision looking from Cindy’s and Katie’s eyes eventually to the eyes of my Heavenly Father. I will declare right then my thanks for His faithfulness. My guess is that He will smile, look at my reunited family, and give me a wink that will erase all the years of missing and pain that were a part of my grief journey. Death will have lost this battle once and for all.
Then God, His Son, and my family will not be able to take our eyes off one another…filled with love and an eternity ahead of dreams fulfilled.
The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunica Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa” on Amazon.com.
Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.
FOR INFORMATION ON SCHEDULING COUNSELING SERVICES WITH LARRY BARBER https://taylorcounselinggroup.com/larry-barber .