Edit: I see that a lot of people have come across this while searching for information about Blake online. My heart goes out to all of you. Take comfort; joy comes in mourning. It will take awhile, but God is always faithful.
Last month (March), I went to the Merced corps with the Birksfam. We were able to share lunch with the corps officers and some friends, Jess and Kelsey. In our conversation came up the thought Kelsey had that I should meet his friend Blake who was a youth pastor at a corps in a neighboring city, but different division (which is why our paths had not crossed). I agreed that when I got home, before I got settled back into my corps, I’d go to Moore St. and visit Kelsey’s youth pastor friend Blake. A few days later I got impatient and sent Blake a message and friend request.
He remembered me from WYI, and we exchanged messages. Though I have really started to dread the return home (the emptiness of leaving behind something that has become familiar seems too overwhelming for me to be excited about) I have been excited at the idea of visiting another corps and meeting Kelsey’s youth pastor friend Blake, whom Kelsey thought I would get along with.
Randomly, my friend Paul (who is not a Salvationist) told me that his friend Carina (also not a Salvationist) had just come back from serving The Salvation Army in Portland.. I got in touch with Carina, who said she worked at the Moore St corps.. and had met my hypothetical future friend, Blake. Which got me even more excited, because she said he was awesome.
So today, when I signed into Facebook and saw that my friend Brittany had a status update about him. I spent an hour refreshing Facebook, watching as it was confirmed through status updates and wall posts that Blake had died.
My heart instantly began to ache in a really strange, indescribable way. and I felt the joy of knowing that Blake was with the Lord (I am unsure of if I believe it happens the moment we die or if our souls rest or whatever, but in times like this I pretend I believe we go straight there) but the anger at the stolen opportunity for friendship.
Madeleine L’Engle once wrote about how when we love people, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable to hurt not only because of them, but for them. When we really open our hearts to people; friends, acquaintances, soon-to-be friends.. we are doing so with the understanding that at some point, that openness will cause us to hurt.
Death sucks for those of us who have not died, because we are still here on earth. But for those of us who are mourning the loss of a brother or sister in the Lord, we can find peace in the fact that this is not it. This is no end at all. It is not “I will never get to actually meet Blake,” it is instead “I will get to meet Blake… with Jesus.”
Blake Webb, I heard that we would have gotten along fabulously. I was looking forward to seeing you when I got home. Now I look forward to seeing you when I get Home. Have some coffee waiting.