When she died, I lost a piece of myself.
Bre Payton was the love of my life and the woman I was planning to marry. The day after discussing the type of ring I wanted to get with my family, I found out Bre was unconscious in the hospital.
Two days later, on December 28, 2018, she was gone. Aspiring writer and political pundit. Loving daughter and sibling. Pasta snob. Make-up Queen. Christ-follower and faithful friend. Gone at the age of 26. The pain associated with such a loss is not something I’d wish on my worst enemies.
That suffering, as I’ve come to understand it, is the law of life. Everyone suffers. Some may endure more pain than others, but the law remains, and I am certainly not exempt. Not by a long shot.
The piece of myself I lost the day Bre died is the ink that is being used to write my chapter in the Gospel of the Cross. Those pages are filled with currency: loneliness, heartbreak, doubt, confusion, and anxiety. Each suffering leveraged against my sins. A bargain for my soul.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about what happened to her, and in turn, what could’ve been if she’d lived. I often daydream about the significant life events I would’ve shared with her: Marriage. Kids. Her homemade pasta. Anniversaries. Old age. More pasta. Grandchildren. It leaves me begging for one last moment with her.
One of the last conversations I had with Bre was about how different our lives were since we met three years earlier. Toward the end of the conversation, she told me change is one thing you can count on in life. I’ve heard that before. It’s not a novel saying, but for some reason, it struck me and continues to invade my thoughts from time to time. I know now Bre was hinting at what was to come in just a few short days. The Cross is change and a signpost, and tragedy forces you to choose a path. Either you draw closer to Christ and His suffering, or you take the path of self-destruction. There is no in-between.
I think I’ve chosen the former path, even though refusing the Cross seems enticing from time to time. The one truth that has helped me to endure the pain is that Christ did not come to eradicate suffering. He came to sanctify it. Bre was a strong woman of faith, and I know she would’ve wanted me to not just endure my suffering but to do so confidently. Purification of the soul is the award at the end of the tunnel, and that’s worth clinging to.
I don’t know why Bre was taken from us, and I may never know. Trust in God’s divine providence is not easy, and the trials and tribulations that have appeared in the wake of her death are hard to shoulder. However, there is eternal hope. For we know the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty.