Today, you’d be 27

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Ian Coronas. We haven’t forgotten you. Not one tiny bit…

WATCH: Ian Coronas’ Celebration of Life Video

You’ve been gone for several years now. I often wonder what you’d be up to today, if only…

What would be added to this video of your brief life?

Wedding photos?

Baby pics?

Sales awards?

New hobbies?

New adventures?

New home?

One thing I know, you’d be the one keeping things “light” during this pandemic. You’d also be the one sneaking out during the stay-at-home orders … I mean there’s just no way.

But you’d always wear your mask to keep others safe — a mask that would probably have something fun printed on it. Starwars maybe? To match your socks.

You’d be supportive of any oppressed group, but you’d also be very puzzled by the violence that’s erupted around the country. You were always inclusive, always the peacemaker.

Despite the state of the world’s current affairs, you’d be optimistic about the future.

I can imagine you walking in the door, flashing your smile, and saying just the right thing to make the world somehow feel balanced again.

On this, your 27th birthday, I can remember you … and I can imagine who you would be.

I’m thankful for that much.

Please enjoy watching Ian’s Celebration of Life video above . Today, let’s remember all the good times.

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“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4

August 29, 2016, 23rd Birthday (his last one here)

A Laundry Basket Sermon

You opened your Bible and placed it carefully on the podium, which also served as my laundry basket only a few hours earlier. You draped a cloth around your neck and wore the only white long-sleeve dress shirt that you owned.

Your First Communion

You looked out at your audience with only a slight hint of apprehension and drew in a long breath to gather your thoughts. The audience – Dad and I – sat across the room on the living room sofa. I smiled broadly with both my lips and my eyes – the way parents do when they want to encourage their child from a distance.

With your 10-year-old voice that had yet to deepen, you began reading the scripture that you had selected on your own as the basis for this surprising and quite impromptu sermon.  It was the first time you had ever done a sermon in the living room – and the last.

Yet, 17 years later, I remember the details as if they happened yesterday.

“Genesis 22:1 …” you began.

“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied. Then God said “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

You continued on, reading about Abraham and Isaac’s journey up the mountain and how Isaac eventually questioned his father about the lack of a lamb for the burnt offering.  You continued reading…

…Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.

You looked up from your Bible, making eye contact with your audience.

I was prepared to break out into sanctified applause for a job well done, but before I could do that, dad – who was not yet a Bible reader or regular church goer at that point in his life – asked the tough question. 

“Why did God do that?”

Continue reading “A Laundry Basket Sermon”

Burntlip Smile

I was worried about it, as any mom would be.  I even kept a measurement of it, so that I could know firsthand if it was growing. It was as easy to miss as it was hard to miss. Splashed on his bottom lip was what looked like a dark ink blob that simply became part of the beautiful landscape of our son Ian‘s face.

No, it wasn’t bestowed as a beauty mark from birth.  This doozy came to Ian after the world’s worst case of chapped lips.  He was probably in middle school and was just beginning to discover his extreme love of the ocean. After a long weekend of fun in the sun, Ian developed miserable dry, cracking chapped lips that hurt like heck and made it hard to smile.

For some random reason, once his lip healed and natural moisture returned, a permanent dark splotch remained as a reminder of the painful incident.

Continue reading “Burntlip Smile”

No Questions Asked

No questions asked,
I’d trade places with you,
I’d give you more time,
you’d see this life through.

I’d take all the pain,
and the suffering too,
I begged every day,
please God, don’t take you.

Unanswered prayers,
dreams seem to die,
My world without you,
I wondered — who am I?

I gaze into heaven,
Stars beyond what we see,
Envision your new life,
Do you watch over me?

Continue reading “No Questions Asked”

Never Done, Just Due

If there was ever a mantra that fits the world of journalism to a T, it’s the saying, “It’s never done. It’s just due”.

Someone told me this early on in my public relations career, most likely because I have a hard time deciding that my writing is completely finished.  If you write for a living, you know what I mean.  A piece of writing that appears to be “done” at one moment can go through more and more rounds of edits until the deadline is upon you, and you simply must stop working on it. Oh, how you could use just a few more days, a few more hours, or even just a few more minutes to finish the work.

“It’s never done. It’s just due.”

Ian was a writer, too.  It was in his high school years that I recognized his knack for it, as did his teachers. His research was usually quite solid and his thought process on point, but what really made my heart soar was Ian’s ability to turn a phrase with flair and style.  He was on his way to being a true wordsmith.

Continue reading “Never Done, Just Due”

Life under the Rainbow

In a study of Genesis, I listened to a pastor taking about rainbows. He spoke about the scientific definition of the rainbow: A beautiful multicolored arch in the sky caused by the reflection and refraction of the rays of the sun shining on falling rain.

Then, of course, he spoke of the biblical significance: The rainbow as a token of the covenant which God made with Noah when he came out of the ark that the waters should no more become a flood to destroy all of humanity.

The rainbow in the sky is the “sun in the storm” AND the “son in the storm.” The son, my Lord and savior.

Today, more than two years since Ian left us after an eight-month battle with cancer, I live my life under the Rainbow.

The storm, I fear, will never completely blow over.

There will always be clouds in my sky; the unrelenting soul-crushing missing that happens when you lose your child.

But, now and then, when the conditions are just right, the sun shines into my clouds and creates surprising beauty.

At first, it is faint … just a light hue of color as I gaze onto the faces of those I love and a glimmer of hope falls over me. Yet, slowly but surely, over time, I find myself in moments of vibrant colors. I am surprised to find that my smile is real, my laugh is deep and a sense of happiness feels true.

But there is no weather forecast on this journey.

Today, it may rain, the sun may come out, or — on the best of days — the rain and the sun may interact to create a rainbow over me.

Those days have tears and pain brought on by bittersweet memories. And, they have hope and love brought on by — those very same memories.

We walk in faith, looking forward to a day of reunion with Ian and all our loved ones who already call Heaven, home. I thank the Lord for his faithfulness to walk with me through this storm and for the rainbows that cover me.

rainbowcrop
A rainbow that formed at one of Ian’s favorite surf spots, Ehukai Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. It appeared to me and Lorna as we sat chatting about our boys.

The Signature

There I sat wiping away tears in a crowded restaurant – again.

I gazed down onto the three letters I – A – N … strung together in a manner so that I could pick it out in a line-up of a hundred other “Ian” signatures.  It was his actual signature cast perfectly into a delicate silver ring. The signature looked exactly how I had seen it so very many times before when he signed his name to an important letter, note, and later in life, on a sales contract.

The ring featured the “neat” version, not the signature he used when signing a check or on one of those ridiculous credit card machines. In those cases, you’d only see the “I” and the rest was barely more than a straight line. I remember that I chuckled the first time I saw it. I think he was in middle school and I asked him if he thought he was a doctor or a rock star. Actually, I love that he learned to use the sloppy signature at such a young age, as if he intuitively understood that sometimes it mattered and other times it simply did not. Sometimes you steal away a few seconds to keep for yourself – because seconds add up to minutes, minutes add up to days.

We know — all too well — that every single second matters…

Continue reading “The Signature”

There was Patience, There was Peace

Ian stared up at the ceiling from the bed at the naturopathic treatment center, unable to move any part of his body below the neck. For most of the 10 days we spent there, he was getting intravenous high dose Vitamin C and a host of last-chance protocols commonly used in European countries to fight cancer. During this time, Ian’s mind was relatively strong. Except for the last few days his life, he was aware of his rapid decline.

I often wondered what was going through his mind.

This was new for me. I had always known exactly what was going on his mind — Ian could talk and he loved to share! He easily filled up an entire 30-minute drive home from school with colorful stories of the day’s adventures. Things didn’t change much when he started his new job straight out of college. I knew about the potential clients, the presentations, the contracts that closed and the ones that did not. He texted me often and kept me posted on just about everything.

But, here I am, 22 months since our beloved son’s passing to Heaven, and I’m left still wondering what was he thinking in his final days on earth? Was he devastated? Was he still hopeful? Did he ever resign to his soon departure? If he did, he never shared that with me. He chose not to talk about the end.

One thing I know is that through his entire 8-month battle with cancer, he never uttered one word of victimized complaint to me. I never heard him ask, “Why me?”

Not once.

Continue reading “There was Patience, There was Peace”

#18 Months

Is it strange that I count the months you’ve been gone in the same way that parents count the months of an infant child’s life? Each month, as time slips by, I can’t believe we’ve made it this far without you here.

Yet, if the pattern holds true, I’ll stop counting the months soon. Just a few more months and we will likely start referencing your absence in years — should anyone ask how long it’s been.

No matter how or if I express the breadth of your absence on any given day, I always know exactly how long it’s been …

because losing a child is nothing like having a child.

To watch your child grow is the ultimate privilege. Fully in awe of the miracle, you instinctively know that he or she is a gift and you celebrate the milestones, month by month, and then year after year.

When there is life, this formula is sustainable. It propels you forward.

When there is death, this formula is difficult to sustain.

For 18 months, I have quite literally been walking with my head turned in the opposite direction … looking backwards.

If I continue this formula, I fear it will sink me.

So, where do I go from here?

Continue reading “#18 Months”

Of Butterflies, Black Moths and Angels

I sat with Joy on the back patio on a sunny afternoon in May 2017 as we talked endlessly about our sons. Her son, Kekoa, passed over to heaven in July, while our son Ian passed in October.

We had met each other only weeks prior at Griefshare, a grief support group we attended at a nearby church. Joy is a deeply spiritual woman with a solid footing in her faith. We grieved together with hope, knowing that our sons are now among the Lord’s saints in heaven.

Nonetheless … there were tears and pain.

When two butterflies suddenly started to dance on and around our hedges that afternoon, we chuckled about it. It was tempting to say these two dancing butterflies were our sons visiting us, but we knew better than that. Our children did not turn into butterflies, black moths or angels. They are still the magnificent souls they were here on earth but in a new and improved physical state in heaven.

Yet, as these two butterflies brought smiles to our faces long into the afternoon, Joy suddenly asked, “Do you see two butterflies hanging around like this very often?”

“Not really,” I replied.

We stared at those butterflies in silence for a bit of time, and then we laughed.

It felt good to laugh.

Something felt very special about those butterflies.

Continue reading “Of Butterflies, Black Moths and Angels”