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Katherine Salvatori

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My personal reflections on this November day…

11/17/12

“All our troubles
And all our tears
God our HOPE
He has overcome”

I find it so much easier to show images than speak. Images don’t need my voice; which is why I have a hard time writing this post.

I knew it was coming though.

The November sky has been changing; the aching, familiar sadness in my chest slipping back to its normal place.

November 18th.

6 years ago today, my cousin Alec was killed in a car accident.

He was 19.

6 years ago today this haunting, aching sadness landed on my chest, prepared to stay.

Looking back on these 6 years, I have a lot on my mind – a lot mulling around in my head that I’m not sure I’ll be able to eloquently put together here.

But I’m going to try.

Let me start with these images though. I was startled awake at 5am the morning after Alec passed away, and saw this burning orange shining through my blinds. I hobbled out to our deck on my newly broken foot, stood barefoot in the freezing cold, fumbling with my camera to capture this sight before me. I had never seen a sky like this in my life:

I was not walking with Christ at this point in my life; yet even in my rebellion the sky was shouting this verse to me :

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19

I cried out to a God I had kept at a distance, not understanding this tragedy.

Below are images from Alec’s funeral in Marshfield, Wisconsin. I’ve never shared these with anyone.

On our drive home from Marshfield, I kept staring at the sky. This one in particular matching my hopeless, angry, grieving soul. I stared out the window furious with God that my aunt, my uncle, and my two other cousins had to endure a pain I could never even fathom.

At this part of our 4 hour drive, the radio started going out. My sisters and brother in law tried for about 10 minutes to get any station to come through, and to no avail it wouldn’t work. Finally one of us looked out the window and saw this sight:

Had we been distracted by the radio, or had zoned out or fallen asleep to a song, we would have missed this amazing sunset (which looked like giant angel wings by the way)

I made a note of capturing sunsets like these, as I had never seen them before Alec died, and felt in some way the God was reaching out to me.

Here are my sweet Aunt, Uncle, and cousins…

Two years ago in 2010, two days before November 18th, I awoke to this sunrise:

God again, pulling on my heart. But this time my heart belonged to him. Yet the aching in my chest wouldn’t cease. The sadness over Alec’s death remained with me. I had always struggled with death even before this happened. A deep seeded fear within me, that has kept me awake at night with anxiety attacks my entire life. Why oh why, with my new-founded hope in Christ, could I not stop these relentless attacks of fear, of loss, of the unknown? Did I not trust him enough? Did I not believe what I read in the bible?

“When I can’t find the words, to say how much it hurts, you are the healing in my heart. When all that I can see, are broken memories, you are the LIGHT that’s in the dark…”

“If I had no voice, if I had no tongue, I would dance for you like the rising sun. And when that day comes and I see your face, I will shout your endless GLORY and praise…”

I recently saw this lovely photo posted by my Aunt on her facebook page:

It got me thinking.

Pondering.

Before I begin, let me back up and explain something that happened a month ago. I had gone to a Christian women’s photography conference in Georgia in early October. The night I got there, before I had even had a chance to exchange names and hellos with anyone, I received a phone call from my sister Lisa.

Doctors had found melanoma on her scalp. They were going to have to do surgery, and they were going to have to test and see how bad it was and if she had more spots elsewhere.

As I stopped in my tracks at the top of this hill pictured below, I collapsed in a pile of fear and cried my eyes out for hours.

Yet in this quiet, silent place – I had NO ONE to talk to except God.

So I did.

I did what us humans do best, I talked and talked and questioned and cried and yelled and talked.

But I didn’t receive an answer; I received questions back.

“Even if I take her life, do you still trust me?”

“Do the stars still exist even when the storm clouds are covering them?”

“Am I still good?”

“Am I still faithful?”

“Am I still sovereign?”

“Am I still I AM?”

In my trembling fear of what could happen, facing my lifelong fear of death – and it knocking on the door to my life, with a woman I love more than life itself –

I answered God through streaming tears that yes, I trusted him even if he took my sister.

During the retreat, we had worship twice a day. Worship has never been my thing; I’m not a hand-raiser, and worshiping openly with God is an area I’ve always struggled with.

Yet as I prayed for my sister during worship, I felt God calling me to give him all of my fears, all of my control, all of the weight bearing down on me. For the 1st time in my life, I raised my hands and praised God through tears of utter submission.

I prayed as I have never prayed in my life

“Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Lord we know Your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

You’re still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You’re working all things for our good
We’ll sing your praise

You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn’t come
Even if the healing doesn’t come”

The last night we were there, I walked outside and saw a familiar, glaring sunset peeking over the horizon.

I walked out to the hill I had sat on my first night there, and saw this:

“And when my circumstance leaves me with empty hands, you’re the provider of my needs”

I don’t know about you, but I need reminders.

Constant. Reminders.

That HE is good. That HE is faithful. That HE hears my prayers, my petitions. That HE loves me. That even in death, my hope and hope alone is in HIM.

I am a woeful sinner. Christ paid the fine I could never pay for my sins. Because I place my faith in Christ and Christ alone, I have a HOPE that exceeds ALL of the wickedness this world casts upon us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Like I said before, this got me thinking.

As today, November 18th snuck up on me with the familiar ache in my chest, the familiar fears that keep me awake each night, I really began thinking about how I am going to choose to remember Alec today. How I am going to choose to remember Alec every day.

The healing didn’t come for Alec. It didn’t “all work out.”

Yet I refuse to allow satan to blind me ANYMORE to the TRUTH and the HOPE that I have in seeing Alec again as I fix my eyes on Jesus.

~

Will you do the same?

~

{ In loving remembrance of Alec Salamonski }

6/1/1987 to 11/18/2006

I love you Alec

*UPDATE*

I wrote this post last night (on the 16th). Tonight (the 17th), I went out for a quick photo session with a friend. God surprised me with this:

(THANK YOU GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
All its joys are but a name;
But His love abideth ever,
Through eternal years the same

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Sweetest comfort of my soul;
With my Savior watching over me,
I can sing though billows roll

Take the world, but give me Jesus,
Let me view His constant smile;
Then throughout this life’s long journey
He will lead me all the while

Take the world, but give me Jesus.
In His cross my trust shall be,
Till, with clearer, brighter vision,
Face to face my Lord I see!

So take the world, but give me Jesus
Take the world, but give me Jesus
Take the world, but give me Jesus
Take the world, but give me Jesus

Oh, the height and depth of mercy!
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above!

Oh, the height and depth of mercy!
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above!

So take the world, but give me Jesus
So take the world, but give me Jesus
Take the world, but give me Jesus
Take the world, but give me Jesus

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  1. Candice says:

    Well written, heartfelt post with great photos to accompany it. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Julie says:

    Katie – you have revealed many enduring emotions that we share along with you…the questions we ask God… yet feeling His love and grace… You have touched our hearts with your talent in words and pictures… Through your lens, you have captured God’s beautiful artistry, and written words to express your love. Thank you does not express how grateful we are… what sweet memories you have created here. Thank you for sharing this with us. We love you Katie
    Uncle Norb and Aunt Julie

  3. Deb Decker says:

    This is absolutely beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Ruth Elderbrook says:

    Katie,
    Your Aunt Julie just shared this with me -it’s absolutely beautiful. I have become good friends with Julie since Alec’s death, as sadly we each share the loss of one of our precious children. My oldest daughter, Melissa, was murdered by her first cousin on October 1, 2003. It’s been nine years of loss and heartache and many days it seems like it was just yesterday. The last few days I’ve been especially sad again – thinking of so many of us, including Julie and Norb who ache to have our children back. Melissa’s first cousin, Mike, took his life January 25 – they didn’t see each other very often because he grew up in New York and then Arizona when is dad became ill, but they were best little buds growing up. He would have been 34 on Octber 5. My heart continues to break for our loss and for those friends and family that we love who also have to endure their loss. Thank you for the beautiful sunsets. Melissa sent us beautiful sunset pictures a couple of months before she died – I still have them on my computer. Without God, I don’t know how we would survive – it’s still difficult, but better with the love and comfort from God. Have a Happy Thanksgiving as we give thanks to God for all of our blessings and memories. Our three other children will be coming home today. Can’t wait.
    Ruth