Saturday, January 17, 2015

Even when devastation hits

My brother, Christopher Walsh, and the Chancellor of West Dean College inspecting a bass he had built.
My brother, Chris, with the chancellor
at West Dean College, UK. (1999)
On August 13th of 1999 my brother, Chris, decided he could no longer suffer the emotional heartache of depression.  He was a talented and ambitious young man of 22 years, who had just graduated from the prestigious West Dean College in Chichester, England.  Chris had studied there as a violin maker, a luthier.  He was facing many life changing decisions and was told, by his then girlfriend, that she would not move to America with him.
On a weekend while my parents where out of town, Chris was buying a gun and making plans for someone to check on him.  My husband and I suspected he was hurting and tried to invite him to our home while my parents were away, but he was an adult; he was allowed to make his own choices.  He chose to end his hurt by ending his life.   
My parents felt they could no longer live steps away from where my brother took his life.  They took all the tools and belongings my brother had shipped over from England to a new home.  The boxes sat for 14 more years in a barn.  After deciding to move again  they asked me to find a home for the tools, wood, and various luthier items that had once belonged to my brother.  During the latter part of 2014, I asked all my musician friends, charity organizations, and a local violin shop if they would want my brothers things.  No charge!   No one wanted them.  No one really seemed to care.  It was a little unsettling and sad.
My parents and I have come to a point where we can move along with life where the happy days out number the sad ones.  However, being people of faith, we have always wondered what God had planned when He knew this would happen.  Don't get me wrong.  We never blamed God.  My brother was a growing young Christian who wanted us to know he had made peace with God before this all took place.  But the whole tragedy left us wondering "why."   I imagine anyone in our circumstances has the same questions.  Many people struggle the rest of their lives with these sorts of questions and never feel peace.  We may not have gotten an answer, but I do feel like we have found some peace.  My brother's death allowed us to help friends and family who are dealing with the suicide of a loved one or friend.  But these tools in my garage just seemed wasted.  Then I got an email from my oldest daughter's orchestra teacher.
Shad Peters lost his entire business in a New Year's Eve fire.On December 31, 2014, a young father by the name of Shad Peters, of Peters Guitars, had a devastating fire in his shop.  Shad is, by my perception, a God-fearing talented artist who was being refined by this fire.  From the things I had read from his family and friends, his dreams and 10 years of hard work had, literally, gone up in smoke.  The insurance company told him that they would only be able to cover the costs of the garage structure and the personal property he had in the garage/shop; like his computer and stereo.  None of his tools, hand made instruments and accessories, power equipment, and hand-picked wood would be covered by the insurance.  The total estimation of replacement would total over $70,000!
There are fundraising efforts under way at Go Fund Me, but how will he replace all the time and struggle?  That's where we as fellow humans step in and take on some of the load.  God tells us to bear each other's burdens (Galatians 6:2).  Most of the time, it's not a burden to whoever takes on a little bit of someone else's load.  It's a blessing.  When I read about the plight of Shad's family I was grinning ear to ear and bouncing in my chair.  "This is it, this is it!" is all I could think.
I was able to contact Shad by email and find out if he would like my brother's wood, hand tools, forms, and other luthier items that had been stored for over 15 years (picture right).   He immediately sent back a message that he would love to come get them and would make arrangements to be here the next day!  He lives about 65 miles north and needed to borrow a truck to come get the crates and boxes that were still packed the way they were the day they left England. 
Let me just say; you should never invite a stranger to come to your house without some kind of plan.  I researched Shad's story and felt he was a reputable person, but I still let my neighbor and husband know the details of the event.  However, I think Shad was more nervous than I was.  Who wouldn't be?  I felt like I was on the blessing end of the deal.  He was probably feeling vulnerable and nervous going to someone's home and not knowing what would happen when the door opened.  Too many bad Craig's list stories where going through my mind (and probably his). 
After we introduced ourselves I showed him to the garage and opened each of the boxes.  There were lots of tools and wood to show him and lots of  questions about the things that were totally foreign to me.  I grabbed some drawings for a violin design out of the biggest crate before it was last on the truck. 
We talked for a moment about the way all this came together and I came away in total awe at how God planned it all!  I hope to one day be able to visit his new shop. My mother was glad to know that I had found the perfect home for all the beloved items she held tight for so many years. 
I believe that it helps the heart to heal when you can help someone else through your own pain.  We have to bear our souls sometimes.  It's a vulnerability that is totally scary, but so worth it!  Be blessed by being a blessing.