by: Staci Stallings
Quick personal note: For those who don’t know, my older brother committed suicide in 2007. Afterward, in trying to process everything and figure out where this new reality left me, I wrote a series of things I remembered—about him, about growing up, about us, and about life. This is one of those pieces.
I think the most ironic symbol I saw during the weekend of my brother’s death had to be the mailbox. Now their mailbox is not one of those flimsy little things on a dinky little post. No. This was a mailbox, encased in brick from top to bottom, front to back. It stood on the edge of the inside of their property solid and unshakable. But then sometime just around his death, a buddy of his son ran into it, and poof! Unshakable proved not so unshakable after all.
About three bricks from the concrete base, the brick-encased mailbox separated, and the top 3/4s of it fell over. When we pulled up to the house on Friday, there lay the mailbox—bricks strewn everywhere. My very first thought was “that must have happened after he died because he would never have allowed his mailbox to be laying there like that.”
Then the irony began to sink in. Bumper-to-bumper the cars lined the driveway and street in both directions, and bunch-by-bunch the people continued to come. At one point I walked into their living room and found 30 people standing around who I didn’t even know. They were friends from the town where they now lived, mechanics, church friends, teammates. All had come to convey their sympathy, to bring food or just hugs. And not one of them said, “Man, that mailbox out front is a mess.”
The next day brought more guests, more friends, more family. People had come from Dallas, Houston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Kansas. They too came to hug, to help, to love.
In his last days, my brother would’ve been mortified for all these people to come to his house. Had they thrown a party, they would’ve worked for weeks to get everything “just right.” And yet here we all were, walking about in his house, talking, hugging, loving, and not one person mentioned the mailbox. I said that to one of his friends who made the trek from my hometown which was 60 miles away. “He wanted everything to be so perfect, and he thought we couldn’t love him if it wasn’t, yet here we all are because we love him even though everything is not perfect.”
When my own “everything’s got to be perfect for anyone to come” syndrome snapped in half a couple years ago, I invited three of my best friends over just for a few hours of talking and visiting. My husband came home, and upon finding out we were going to have guests, flipped out. He was washing dishes and straightening things like I’ve never seen him do before or since. “They can’t see the house like this. What will they think?”
“They will think I love them enough to want to spend time with them. Trust me, they know I’m not perfect, and they don’t expect me to be.” Shortly after arriving, I told one of my friends about this conversation, and she said, “I don’t care about your house. I just want to spend some time with you.”
See, the reality is, those who love you just want to spend some time with you. The truth was and is, we didn’t care about the mailbox. We never did. We still don’t. All we want is to spend some time together.
Get that now. Really get it and live it. It will change your life.
Can a wild “Go Bananas” T-shirt wearing guy give her the courage to live anyway…. especially when he has secrets of his own?
“I really enjoy Staci Stallings book’s full of true to life heart ache and Bible truths brought out in ways you wouldn’t expect. God loves each one of us and has created us and if he trust and believe in him all things are possible.”
Get Your Copy Today