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Two stars in the sky

For the past two weeks I have been reading Julie's journal, looking at pictures, walking to places we both used to go. I have been in Timothy’s room trying to capture what he was doing the week before the accident. And I have felt an increasing desire to drive to the accident site on the same date and time that the accident took place.

So last night I set the alarm to 3:30 am. Fixed hot tea, just as Julie would have done. Packed a bag with some of the things we would have taken that day, started the truck, said a short prayer, and set off at 3:50 am, just as we did a year ago. I drove the same road out of town. Twenty minutes later I stopped to get gas, at the same gas station as we did that morning. I was trying to time my arrival at the site of the accident for 5:00 am.

"Why am I doing this?" I asked myself during the trip. I was not sure, but I felt I had to go. Then I prayed, "God, help me to remember words, things we might have said to each other, anything that I might have missed." I also prayed for God's presence in this trip and for him to help me find some kind of closure at a place that, for the past year, has symbolized death, terror, pain, and suffering.

I imagined those last moments driving, talking about our plans for that day. I remember Julie saying, "Soon we will be heading for the States on furlough; only six more weeks away." Timothy and Anahi were sleeping in the back. She also said, "I hope we get all of Anahi's documents ready for the trip." Trips were always bonding times for us. We enjoyed sharing our hearts and dreams with each other.

I got to the scene at 4:55 am, found a safe place to park the truck, turned off the engine and the lights, and just stood there in the complete darkness. Only a few trucks and cars were passing at that lonely hour.

At 5:00 am, the site of the accident is pitch dark. The nearest settlement is about 5 miles away. There are a few lonely homes in the area, but no lights. I realized again how darkness and fog contributed to the accident that morning. In my mind I saw again the truck that caused the accident. Sitting still in utter darkness, its tail end was taking up half of my driving lane, and a few seconds before impact an oncoming vehicle blinded me with its high beams. So that morning, by the time we saw the stopped truck, we were basically impacting. The truck's position was confirmed by two witnesses that, minutes before, had avoided the same stopped truck on the highway, but without an oncoming vehicle in the other lane.

Today, in the midst of this darkness, I looked up and realized how bright the stars were. I could see so many stars that you cannot see when you're in the city. At about 5:05 am I looked to the southern sky, and two bright stars, very close together, stood out to me. They seemed to be blinking. The stars were right behind the spot where our car came to rest after the impact. All of a sudden, with my eyes fixed on the beautiful night sky, I felt God's peace. I also noticed that no cars drove by for almost 10 minutes. It was so quiet and peaceful.

I felt as if God was saying, "Norberto, that morning all you saw was pain, disaster, uncertainty, death; now I want you to look up and see my creation. Look up, dream, let my hand lead you. Julie and Timothy are your stars; they are okay; they have overcome. Look up; I am here." I realized at that moment that the only way to see the beauty of the night sky is when we are standing in complete darkness.

Yes, I am still hurting; yes, it sucks; yes, life will never be the same; yes, it is painful. How God can turn ashes into beauty is beyond me. What I do know and what I was confronted with again this morning at 5 am is my own perspective and what I choose to see. Yes, grieving takes time, and life will never be the same again. It seemed as if God said to me, "Norberto, you have a choice to look up to the night sky and see my beautiful creation and what I have in store for you, or to look to your pain, your disaster, your loss.

My two stars behind the accident scene were still shining at 5:30 am, when most other stars had disappeared. I stood there for a few more minutes and then started driving again, the same route as last year, now to the hospital. I tried to imagine that drive. Timothy was fighting for his life. I was screaming, "Timothy, hang in there, please stay with me, you can do this." My phone was ringing; I was numb to everything around me. Anahi was throwing up. I was living someone else's terror. I wanted to wake up. "Please don’t tell me this is happening to me . . ."

We were rushed into the emergency room. The doctors think that Timothy arrived without life at the hospital. I remember him still breathing during the drive to the hospital. If he did pass away during that drive, it was in my arms.

I drove back home this morning thanking God for allowing me to have a quiet moment at the place where my life was split in two. Why I am still here and even writing this, I am not sure, but as long I have breath in my body, I want to continue looking up to the night sky and seeing the beauty of God's creation. That sky was there a year ago, and it will be there every time I find myself in utter darkness.

Thanks for praying, thanks for loving, and thanks for being the body of Christ.

Norberto and Anahi


  1. Brother Norberto,
    Our Lord Jesus said, "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted." (Mt. 5:4)

    It has been good the way you have grieved this great loss for this past year. I pray God's comfort will cover you and Anahi in all the days to come.

  2. I follow this blog mostly in silence. I don't know you, yet I find myself caring for you and Anahi. Your posts are an encouragement to me. Thank you.

    All the Best,


    1. I feel the same way as Patricia above...

      Thanks for sharing


  3. Praying for you both.

  4. Gracias por compartir esto, primo. Te quiero mucho.
    Dios está contigo! Shalom!

  5. Anne (Taylor) NelsonApril 20, 2013 at 3:34 AM

    Thank you for walking us through that morning Norberto. It helps us grieve. What you said about the only way to see the beauty of the night sky is to stand in complete darkness will stay with me forever. Thank you for putting your journey out there for us to see. It moves us closer to Christ.

  6. Beautiful post...thank you for continuing to allow us to share in your journey...

  7. A beautiful post...thank you for continuing to allow us to share in your journey...bendiciones!

  8. Norberto, Thank you for sharing these honest words. I am amazed at your resiliency and faith in such hard times. Peace and comfort to you. My heart breaks for you and yet I am hopeful by your words. Blessings, Jeff McLaughlin

  9. Thinking of you. Sending love and prayers! Blessings from Chuck and Gale Poole

  10. Oh Norb, what beautiful praises you've just lifted. How you've honored God and your family. You are often in our prayers, friend.

  11. You've taught us all so much, and this is another lesson we can apply to so many situations in our lives, too. Thank you for letting God use you in these difficult times. It means a lot that you are sharing your personal journey with the rest of us. Blessings, brother! I'm so glad you chose to look up and see the stars!!!

  12. Primo del alma, cada tanto leo tu blog y me dá mucha tristeza, sigo orando por vos, pero no tengo palabras de aliento, perdón Norby.
    Solo seguiré orando por vos y si algún día tienes ganas de visitarme, mi casa está abierta y disponsible.
    Un abrazo enorme desde la distancia.

  13. Know that my tears still flow when I think or read of you and your beloved family. May your faith be increased by God, may His comfort be your All, and may your work in His Kingdom be great.

    Praying for you.

    Carl Walker
    En Gedi Retreat

  14. This post is so beautifully written. I never actually knew before today what had happened. I followed your wife, and thereby, your family's blog for about a year before Julie and Timothy passed. I have spent this past year praying for you and Anahi, and wondering what happened. This post, as the comment above mine says, helps me to grieve. For though I have been a silent follower, I have been a dedicated one and have enjoyed Julie's and now your posts. I thank you for continuing the work that you do in Paraguay, and for continuing this blog. I continue to pray for you and Anahi as does my family. In our Awana youth group which my daughter Chloe attends we were asked to pick a missionary and pray for them. Your family is our missionary family for whom we pray.

    Kindest Regards,
    Ruth Lamb

  15. God bless you for letting God guide your steps to the accident scene, for raising your eyes to the sky and looking to the light. God bless you for remaining open and honest despite the trials of the last year. For continuing to search and see. God bless you for letting your heart stir in the gentlest signs of healing. You are truly the example of what we all need to be remember.

    I am hopeful for you. You have two of God's fiercest angels over your shoulder, and they are keeping watch and cheering you. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Praying for your peace and comfort. Though I don't know you, only follow your blog, I can't help but mourn with you and cry as I read your posts. Know that people you've never met are holding you in prayer and thinking of you.


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