Darlene Parks has said yet another, “Good bye.” Her hardest ‘Good Bye’ was in December, 2008 when her husband Dan was tragically killed in an accident leaving her with children ages 17, 14, and 13. With our email meeting, she shared her reality today.
“On Saturday, I sent my youngest child off to college; It was again another bittersweet moment. On our way to the college, we stopped at a rest stop; I noticed another family also taking their son to college. I saw the husband and wife comforting each other and thought…that should be me. I dismissed the thought, and Amy and I headed down the road.
My oldest left for college 8 months after Dan’s accident. I believe I was still numb; I remember feeling like I wasn’t there some of the time. I remember crying and wishing that Dan was there for us.
Last summer, I took my son to the recruiter’s office, where he would be transported to Fort Jackson, SC, for army basic training. That was a very tough day for me, as I had to release my son to the military, knowing that I would see him very little from now on.
“As I type this note to you, I am alone in my house, knowing full well, that today marks a new beginning for me. Tonight will mark my first night in my home ALONE, knowing fully, that I will be making dinner for just me; doing laundry for me; cleaning the house for me… Wow…this will take some getting used to.”
As I learned more of Darlene’s story, I have been touched by how special Dan and she were. He was a godly man who loved his Lord, his wife, and his children with all his heart. Sharing their first kiss on their wedding day sets them apart.
As I browsed through the many pictures she shared, I wanted to include them all! Beach times, their little family of five pushing off in a canoe, which was a regular adventure, in search of lost lures covered by lily pads. Many pictures were those of just Dad and child playing, a testimony to an involved Dad.
Marrying on June 26, 1987, they had twenty one years together. Days of school with him completing his C.P.A., children and careers, his insurance, hers as an elementary school teacher.
As we ‘met’ by phone, she shared that she and they had a plan for their lives. And the life she’s living today is not that life. I so understand.
December 6, 2008, the day before Dan’s accident, he and Amy, their youngest-13 at the time, went on a ‘date’ for lunch and to the mall to shop for a Christmas gift for Darlene. They sang Christmas Carols on their return home. The following day, their lives changed forever.
“Losing Dan in a period of 2 hours was by the far the greatest blow in my life. It literally dropped me to my knees. Not being able to say good-bye was very difficult. Hearing the cries of my children is something I will never forget. I received a phone call from Dan’s phone. I picked up the phone, thinking it would be Dan, but it wasn’t Dan; rather, it was a state trooper. He informed me of my husband’s accident, and urged me to get to the hospital ASAP. Dan was airlifted by helicopter to University of Virginia Hospital, where he would die while on the operating table.
Losing Dan so suddenly, was by far, the most difficult experience of my life. For weeks on end, I remember saying, “I can’t believe he is gone.”
I asked Darlene to comment on the challenges of being a single parent and the differences in parenting her son and her daughters.
There are many challenges with being a single parent:
- Feelings of inadequacy because Dan was not there to lean on.
- Trying to be in two places at once…Daniel’s wrestling match vs. Amy’s cross country.
- Teaching my teens how to drive!
- Attending high school graduations without their dad, knowing how hard it would be for them and me.
- Planning for family vacations without Dan.
- Attending my son’s military graduation without his dad.
- Trying to give my son advice that his dad would have given him.
- Grieving the loss of my husband while comforting my children.
- Pointing my children to Christ, while they were distraught because God took their dad away.
When my husband died, I suddenly became panicked for my son. At 14, my son would still need a strong godly male influence in his life. I felt compelled to contact 5 godly men (Dan’s dear friends) to mentor my son. These men would pray for Daniel, call Daniel, and would invest their time with him. Even now that Daniel is in the military, these men continue to keep in touch with him.
As for my girls, they would need me even more; I would be there for them. I learned how much my youngest daughter, Amy, really needed her dad. Even today, she cries for him to be near her. My oldest daughter, Alyssa, says that she wishes she could ask her dad for his advice. My son would like to have an adult conversation with his dad.
I asked Darlene what were the most important lessons she has learned through all this. She, without hesitation stated that she had been depending more on her husband than on God.
“God is teaching me, Come to Me FIRST! Dan was just a man. We had our ups and downs, challenges and disagreements. God was then so available, and certainly is today.”
What is Darlene doing today?
I facilitate a GriefShare group at my church. I also read your book From One Widow to Another a year after Dan’s passing. It was a blessing to me. I believe that your DVD series offers a more personal touch for widows such as me. I am going to facilitate One Widow to Another very soon in my home. I’ve already invited 7 widows that live in my area. Being a widow is the hardest place in the world, but I know that God has carried me every step of the way. I am a bubbly and out going person….working with grieving persons is not at all where I thought I would be during this time in my life. But God has placed me here. My desire is to be faithful to Christ, and for Him to use me in anyway He sees fit to further His kingdom.
Darlene has a new life verse
2 Corinthians 1: 3,4. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”