An introduction to a story of healing
By David LaBelle
There are stories that reach inside us and entangle us with emotions so complex and confusing, only God can unravel them.
Tom Robinson and Susan Dieter-Robinson’s story of loss, faith and forgiveness is one of those stories.
In truth, it is a multitude of stories connected by the thread of terrible coincidences, a community’s loving response, and a couple’s decision to share their grief and healing.
Last October, my friend Linda Wiseman, from Ruralite Magazine, told me a heart-wrenching story from Forest Grove, Oregon, about two young girls who were run over while playing in a pile of leaves on the street in front of their house.
I am not embarrassed to say I cried when I read several online news articles about the tragedy.
But what made this story different than most stories of loss was the response of the girls’ parents. They chose to grieve and heal publically, inviting their community into the process. Even in their deep and unimaginable pain, Tom and Susan chose the path of sharing because they felt it would help others heal, and believed this is what God and their girls would want.
The more I read about this incredible couple, the more I felt compelled to meet them and share their story.
Three weeks ago, along with two students – Hongting Li (Yolanda) from China and Randy Vanderveen from Canada – I was given that opportunity.
I decided to build my semi-annual storytelling workshop around and Tom and Susan’s story. I was particularly interested in how the community of Forest Grove is grieving and attempting to heal from the terrible accident that took two young lives from this world and changed so many lives of those left behind.
Tom and Susan were welcoming and patient with us.
They continue to be gracious, reaching out and “sharing love and peace” and seeking to comfort others, even while wading through their own deep grief and trying to continue this life without their daughters, Anna and Abby.
But their path is not easy, especially when it comes to forgiveness.
“I deal with this second by second,” says Susan about the many triggers that remind her of her girls. “Because I can be okay right now and then I can see something…”
“Honestly, if I try to wrap my own head around it, I can’t, I come up short. It’s only divine,” she insists.
“We are just trying to do what we can,” offers Tom. “You can say you forgive and the words can come out of it… you can ‘head’ it but you can’t ‘heart’ it.”
“That’s it, we have a choice,” he explains. “So we can try and do what God was wanting us all to do, or we can not. So we are trying to chose the path of love and joy, trying to spread a little bit, because that’s what our girls meant to us.”
For now, I am merely introducing you to these amazing people. With their blessing, I hope to share more of their story in the months to come.
Rather than try to retell this nightmare of a story, I am attaching several links to a few of the news stories, as well as a link to Susan’s blog. Susan was encouraged by a friend to use writing as a healing tool. She hates writing and says that it is hard, but knows it has helped.
To learn more about Anna and Abigail, please visit Susan’s blog: http://love-drenched-life.com/.