Monday, January 28

We cry because it's real

I know I'm not the only one who was sobbing during Downton Abbey this week.  And I know I'm not the only one who has tried to comfort herself by saying "It's just fiction.  It's just a story.  It's not true."  And I'm not the only one who has found very little comfort in that fact.

As I think about it today, I realize that good fiction has the power to touch us deeply when the stories are real.  They don't have to be true.  The characters don't have to be living human beings.  The settings don't have to be actual places on the map.  It's the stories that touch us, because they echo our stories.  They delve into themes that we find in our own lives.  They pierce our hearts in places where our hearts already bear scars.

Lee and Blake on our front porch, April 2007 (4th grade)

Last night's episode of Downton Abbey was almost too poignant for me to bear, for one year ago today I watched a similar story play out in real life.  One year ago today the son of one of my dearest friends and one of my youngest son's dearest friends, our next-door neighbor, was killed in a tragic accident.  Like Sybil, Blake was the youngest of three children.  Like Sybil, Blake was full of goodness and greatness.  Like Sybil, Blake brought out the best in other people.  Like Sybil, Blake was young and innocent and so dearly loved.

The story of Sybil's death bowled me over as it echoed Blake's story.

I'll tell you: the only thing that makes all this bearable is the knowledge that Blake's story is not over.  It's just begun.  Blake is not living here on earth with us any longer, but Blake lives.  Blake will live forever.  We will be with him again.

And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, 
and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).

If you'd like to know Blake's story, you can watch this video.  You'll be glad you did.

Did Sybil's story echo a story in your life? Please share it!  We are stronger for sharing our stories with one another.


  1. Magnificent, Richella. The video is such a testament. If we could grab the enthusiasm of Blake for our own Christian lives, each of us could be a stellar witness for Christ. Thank you for sharing this story. Aunt Laura

  2. It's hard to believe that it's been a year since Blake died. I remember when it happened and felt so sad for his friends and family.

    I'm a few episodes behind on Downton Abbey and just hate that Sybil is going to die. I'm glad now that I know so that I can brace myself for when I finally watch that episode.

    Have I shared with you that my brother, my only sibling, was killed in a hunting accident in January of 2002? All these years later, I still get nervous and get a knot in my stomach just from typing it. Not a day goes by that I don't think about and miss my brother. My niece was only two when he died and has no memory of him, but it's interesting that she's like him in so many ways.

    I know the anniversary of Blake's death is hard for your family. I'll be thinking about y'all.

  3. I woke up this morning and remembered the date. A year.

  4. I had preeclampsia in my first pregnancy and often wondered what would have happened to us had I lived in an earlier time. I wept last night as well. Especially at the shot of Branson holding the child alone at the end, thinking of my husband in that position.

  5. You're right, I'm glad I watched, what a wonderful way to honor his life! It's such a blessing when children bring us to what's really important in this life.

  6. I'm thankful to be alive after surviving HELLP Syndrome in 2008 and post-partum preeclampsia in 2011. Downtown Abbey was hard to watch because that could have been my darling Chad left with either of our kids. Thanks for sharing about Blake!

  7. I'm sorry Richella, how sad about your son's young friend. Yeah I saw Downton Abbey and it was a sad apisode. Have a nice week, my friend.

  8. I just finished watching it for the second time (I always have to watch it twice before I blog about it), and I cried just as much, if not more, the second time. And this time I thought so much of when my own brother died a long time ago, particularly when Violet walked in and talked to Carson then walked shakily across the hallway. I thought about my own grandfather, coming into our house, sobbing uncontrollably. I'll never forget it. Grandparents take it just as hard as the parents.

  9. I LOVE the truth of this post! It is a reason to celebrate even in the middle of sadness. Thank you!

  10. How true, if we could reclaim the tears for those that have died, we should be walking in ecstasy. Instead we face a world where life is frail and to be treasured.

    My comfort is in knowing that one day all this heartache shall pass more tears.

  11. I guess I am one of the few people in this world that has not seen an episode of "Downtown Abbey". With that being said, Your post was tender to my heart. Our dear friends lost a son last year.. He was 17..died in his sleep. No reason for his death...healthy, happy athlete and great kid! Love Jesus! His family was such a witness to the grace of God. They reinerated to everyone this was not the end...only the beginning and that "Sam" (their son) was in a better place...thanks for sharing the truth of is only the beginning for those who know Jesus! Blessings!

  12. I think it was *because* Sybil's story echoed something in my own life (I was 16 when my dad died unexpectedly, and while I wasn't in the same room, it was traumatic nonetheless) I didn't cry. It was a very sad episode...I thought the Dowager Countess, Lady Grantham, and Thomas stole the scenes with very realistic and poignant portrayals of grief.

    It's so hard to lose someone before we think their time is up. That's the hardest part...knowing that God's plans are different than ours and spending so many years wondering why.

    Beautifully written post, Richella. :)

  13. I'm so glad you shared this. I know this tragedy is still so hard to believe and I know your son misses his friend. So thankful he's with Jesus.

  14. Thank you for sharing your love of Blake...what a delight in God's eyes that young man is! I am going through the process of giving up a beloved friend of mine, Nancy and her husband, Gary died in a plane crash in September...they were wonderful servants of God and I gain peace and comfort daily knowing they are in the arms of Jesus! I had a dream about Nancy and she said "Remember I am at home now"...God brought those wonderful words to me...a reminder of the beginning of her life in heaven with Him! --Marti

  15. Still in shock over Sybil....
    And Blake. Sweet boy- this picture captures the boys together perfectly:: oh. My. The depth of sorrow... Hard to fathom at times.
    This post is utterly beautiful sorrow.
    Blessings on you and all closely affected by his dea

  16. I remember last year when you wrote about Blake. I'm so sorry that this happened.

    I watched the episode also. They all did such a superb job at their roles. In fact, all day Monday I felt this sad feeling about Sybil, even though, as you said, she is a fictional character. Even so, I felt their loss.

  17. Richella!!

    Ok, first I popped over because I'm FINALLY replying to my "Anonymous Commenter" post and I wanted you to know how much I appreciated your thought-filled comment. It was gracious and wise and a lovely addition to the conversation.

    Second, I BLOGGED @ DA TODAY!! But for a very reason. Still, your post is beautiful; I'm always drawn to the stories lying just beneath the surface in people, and this portrait you've painted of Blake, and the parallel to Sybil...well, it's precious.

    I DO hope our paths again soon!

  18. I remember when that happened Richella and I've watched the video. We do cry over the "fiction" because we know that there is always the truth of real life. And the ultimate TRUTH is in knowing that this life isn't all there is! :-) Praying for you all during this time of remembering!

  19. I’m very sorry to hear this, the video was very touching.

  20. I had pre-eclampsia in my first pregnancy, and often do not know what will happen, and I lived in an earlier time. Last night, I cried. Especially in the Branson shot to holding child alone at the end, I think of my husband in that position.


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