Updated: Jan 30
In my mid-30's I lost 10 people in 6 years, 5 of them in 6 months, 3 in one day. Among the losses, 5 were also due to tragic circumstances. During that time, I lost my 3 brothers who were 26, 41 and 42 at their time of death. Needless to say, I was not taught how to grieve and went into "business mode" taking care of estates. Grieving losses and processing trauma has been a major part of my healing journey the last 7 years.
My little brother Bill (26) was killed in a freak accident when he was mud riding and someone got stuck and he used his white Dodge Ram 1500 truck to pull the person out with his winch. Unfortunately, the person's trailer hitch broke off their truck and because of the tension and the incorrect rope type used - the hitch flew like a bullet out of a rifle into my brother's truck, hitting him in his head. A slight turn of his truck - and he would still be here today. The friends with him that day had their lives forever changed because Bill was loved by many.
Bill was my favorite brother, the "mistake" who was born 7 years after me and the best mistake ever! We were best of friends and shared a special bond because I became his sibling caretaker growing up. He was the most special person in my life of all my family members. Then, in an instant, he was gone, taken from me.
Because he was killed in a white Dodge Ram 1500 truck, for the 20 years after his death, every time I would see that truck on the road, all I thought about was his death and losing my little buddy. Do you know HOW MANY of those trucks are on the road? Used for work trucks? They were EVERYWHERE - a constant reminder of loss.
Then, in March 2013 when I was in a season of complete discombobulation, comes this out-of-the-blue ministry called Formational Prayer, and I was "found" by someone who, when I told him about my losses and other childhood traumas told me that I haven't healed from wounds of my past and until I do, nothing would change. Then he gave me the best gift ever: he told me "I can help." I had never heard those words before - that someone was willing to help me and guide me. Because of this offering of love, I took my "deep dive" with God on April 4, 2013 and my life has never been the same!
Through my journey these last 7 years having someone walk beside me through the grieving and trauma work, I have come to understand just how important my relationship with my little brother was. He wasn't just a brother. He was the ONE person in my family of origin that was LOVE to me and I to him. He is the only one I experienced what love and connection looked like and felt like. He was my touch point to understand what healthy unconditional love was meant to be. Because of this new awareness of the impact Bill had on my life, I was able to connect loving him and his loving me to what it's like to love others and be loved by others - to have a clue what that might be like. Through the tragedy of losing him, I gained a deeper knowing of love.
A number of years ago, I was attending a Healing Care Ministries seminar. I walked around the corner of the seminary building and came face to face with Terry Wardle's white Dodge Ram 1500 truck! It took my breath away (well really it triggered the heck out of me!). But at that seminar a shift occurred in me that exchanged the meaning of the truck from tragedy and deep loss to instead a symbol of love and community. This happened because I saw the truck belonged to him and it is because of the Healing Care Ministry that I am healing from loss and trauma and learning what love is and the need to be with people and not do this alone - the importance of being loved and known in community. This knowing and experiencing would not have been possible without this ministry that was born from Terry's life and the focus on the long-term journey of healing and being vulnerable in community.
Now - guess what I think about EVERY time I see a white Dodge Ram 1500 truck? Yep - I think of my little brother with love and affection for what he meant to me and it represents community and healing because of how the Healing Care Ministry offers an avenue of deep healing through Jesus and community! I now see those trucks and experience joy and connection!
Becky Zatezalo is married and the mother of two adult children. She received her Certificate in Formational Prayer in 2015 after experiencing her deep dive with God
and the transforming power of inner healing prayer that began in 2013. Becky currently serves as an advisor for the certificate program and leads a Healing Care Ministry as part of her position as Director of Adult Discipleship at Strongsville United Methodist Church near Cleveland, Ohio. Her heart finds joy in walking along side others helping them experience Jesus’ love, healing and freedom.