In the Sweet By and By

Words and platitudes fall horribly short when a friend dies.

Zane Stotesbury USN was one of Erik and Adam’s best friends in Charleston, training alongside them in the U.S. Navy’s “nuke” program. He was a grand fisherman, and they spent endless fantastic hours in his canoe catching crabs, eels and an occasional fish on the swampy lakes and rivers near Goose Creek.

Rest in peace, sailor.

They told me last night that he died in New York yesterday as a result of a motorcycle accident. He had moved to upstate New York as part of the third phase of “nuke” training — my boys will most likely also go there in a couple of weeks.

I sat outside this morning at dawn, listening to birdsongs in the trees. There were so many melodies to hear — my ear had to sift through the tweets and chirps and whistling to try and follow one particular song. Like they say, it was a cacophony of bird music. There were also air conditioners running and airplanes flying over my head, police sirens wailing, and firetrucks honking their horns. It was an effort of the ear to find the peaceful melody I was searching for. It was so difficult to discern the beauty amidst the noise.

I think that’s how it is when someone we care about is suddenly gone, like Stotesbury. We want so bad to know “why” and we don’t understand how this is even remotely part of God’s good and loving plan. He died one month before turning twenty-one — he was shining in Navy whites, and his folks were standing tall and proud of his great accomplishments already. I looked at his facebook page and saw him posing with some GIANT fish out on the Pacific Ocean.

Platitudes just don’t cut it when your heart is ripped out of your chest, your brain is on overload with memories and your hope is smashed all over the highway in upstate New York.

It doesn’t make sense, and it never will.

It’s just sad. Pure sad. Pitch black sad.

Please pray for the family and friends of Zane Stotesbury in the days and weeks to come. God bless you.

There’s a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

We shall sing on that beautiful shore
The melodious songs of the blessed;
And our spirits shall sorrow no more,
Not a sigh for the blessing of rest.

To our bountiful Father above,
We will offer our tribute of praise
For the glorious gift of His love
And the blessings that hallow our days.

35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tracy Griffin
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 09:55:54

    God bless your soul sailor. From another Navy mom… you have my heart and my prayers today.


  2. Dianna
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 15:46:36

    Oh, Natalie, my heart breaks for you and your boys in your loss. And of course, for the family of this young man. It is impossible to understand when a life is cut so short – and, as we know, it isn’t ours to understand. I’ll be praying for comfort for Zane’s family and friends. This is a lovely tribute you’ve written.


    • Natalie
      Jul 07, 2012 @ 17:43:21

      Dianna, thank you. I’ve had tears on and off all day long — being a mom, I’m feeling the loss of a son I never knew. Thanks for praying, dear.


  3. EM3 Miller Ben
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 23:12:03

    Thank you, zane was one of my best friends too its hard and he is missed. He had a great influence on us all
    Anchors away, farewell Sailor


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 07:08:41

      Dear Ben, I’m so sorry. What a horrible heartbreak for all you guys…I’m so sad, too. Stay tight with your shipmates and know that we love you.


  4. Thomas J Scoggins
    Jul 07, 2012 @ 23:37:06

    I’m known as “The Chief.” I was Zane’s as well as Erik’s and Adam’s Chief for ‘A’ School. It’s my responsiblility to ensure that my sailors are equipped with the tools that they need to succeed in their career as well as their lives; but nothing, no amount of training can prepare someone for the text messages that I recieved this morning. The news of Zane’s passing hit me like a ton of bricks. It felt like I had lost a brother. It’s been almost a whole day, and I’m in shock. Our country has lost a great American, as well as a great sailor. My prayers go out to the Stotesbury family, as well as to all American’s that will be hurt for this young warrior’s passing. Petty Officer Stotesbury, rest easy and know that we have the watch.


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 07:16:48

      Chief, thank you for serving America and for training our sailors. Thank you for sharing your heart and your own pain in Zane’s passing. I am indeed grateful. One of the finest has slipped over the horizon — we just don’t know why, but find comfort in God’s love and the circle of caring folks that He puts around you. Love and peace, Natalie


  5. Three Well Beings
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 00:05:25

    I’m so, so sorry, Natalie! For Zane’s family and friends this is nothing short of a tragedy, and i can’t imagine how senseless it feels. I will be very mindful to remember his family in prayer, and will certainly at that time ask God to give you peace and comfort. Your sons must be very sad to have lost a dear friend. Blessings on you all. Debra


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 06:54:33

      Debra, bless your heart and thank you for your prayers. Who can comprehend this? Zane and his family are from Mission Viejo — somewhere out there in beautiful California.


  6. Penny Carey
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 02:35:25

    As a mom of a Nuke at BS, I felt as though my own heart was ripped out when I learned of Zane. I learned he was at the top of his class, well liked by the other EMs and loved life. Please know that his family have the prayers of so many other Nuke Moms as we learned the news and collectively and individually have been praying for the other sailors, his family and friends through this trying and turbulent time.


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 07:01:01

      Penny, thank you so much for stopping here this morning and for your prayers. There is no understanding this; we can only bow our heads. God bless you, dear Nuke mom. Please stay in touch. Love, Natalie


  7. jeff noel
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 07:12:06

    (crying)… sorry, this is just so difficult to read… so challenging to offer real comfort that might ease the excruciating pain of such a tragic loss… a parent’s worst nightmare… praying humbly that God will blanket Zane’s parents, and family and friends, with His Grace, Mercy and never-ending Love…


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 07:23:19

      jeff, thank you so much. There just aren’t words to convey this kind of pain — I wish I was in Goose Creek today so I could hug and hold my own guys right now. Zane is one of their best friends, and I know they’re just sick over his passing. We appreciate your love and prayers…


  8. Lisa Eiser
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 07:48:01

    As a “Nuke Mom” we have a sisterhood that supports each others joys and sorrows. This was a very difficult thing to digest this information knowing how hard these young people work to become Navy Nukes. I am not alone when I say that our hearts go out to this young man’s family, the others in the accident, and the sailors who witnessed the tragedy.Even though I didn’t know this young man and he wasn’t in my son’s group I’m sure his absence will be felt by many. RIP Sailor.


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 08:05:45

      Dear Lisa, thanks for your kind words. Whether a Nuke Mom, a Navy Mom or a regular Mom, we all share this loss. We feel it in our hearts as though he was one of our own. Peace and love…


  9. Dawn Stealy
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 08:23:44

    Heartfelt prayers for the family and friends of this wonderful young man. I too am a Nuke Mom and know the entire Nuke community has been affected by this tragic loss. May God comfort and keep you in the coming days, weeks and years.


  10. Natalie
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 08:39:09

    Dawn, thank you for your prayers and comfort. God’s sweetest blessings on you and your family, stay in touch…


  11. Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 09:43:04

    No, it doesn’t make sense and it never will to have a young life cut short. I’m sorry for the loss of this outstanding young man.


  12. dale mclain
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 10:45:07

    My son is a nuke sailor too, still in Goose Creek. My heart breaks to hear this news. I am praying for Zane’s family, friend and shipmates. He is gone too soon, too soon… ♥


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:09:58

      Dale, we’re glad you’re a part of the nuke family — we parents all feel this loss, we’re very deeply connected to the friends of our sons and daughters, even the ones we never meet. Thank you for praying — God bless you and your family.


  13. Peggy Hooper
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:31:40

    I want to thank you Natalie for sharing Zane’s story with us. Seeing the photo makes me feel so connected. My heart is so heavy. I can only Ask God to Please give everyone connected to Zane a Peace that only He can give at this time of grief. RIP ZANE
    As “The Chief” put it so well ~Rest Easy young Sailor & know that we have Watch~
    Praying from Louisiana
    As Penny, Dale and Lisa put it, there are alot of us Nuke Mom’s that are Prayer warriors for our Sailor’s, We are on the Prayer Watch right… My son is in PS at GC
    Sending {{{HUGS}}}


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:45:33

      Peggy, thank you for your kind and loving words. I hope that these messages of hope and love reach Zane’s family — and all of his sad shipmates today. Blessings on you and your family.


  14. Heather Cox
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 11:54:59

    I am a Navy Nuke Mom myself and it hits close to home when we lose one of our kids. Thoughts and prayer for this hero’s family, friends, and shipmates.


    • Natalie
      Jul 08, 2012 @ 12:15:04

      Thank you so much Heather. It’s odd — we think our guys will be safe if they are nukes. We forget that horrible tragedy can come along anytime. Hug all the kids a little tighter today…


  15. Sherry Hamlett
    Jul 08, 2012 @ 20:14:40

    Prayers for Zane’s family & friends.


  16. Carkeys124
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 01:20:42

    I went to school with Zane. When I heard about this, all I could think of was sitting in our history class in middle school, and we had this project. He and I were the leaders in this project. Every day for a week we sat infront of the class as we determined and argued about the constitution and what we believed should be in it. It was really fun. I may have lost touch with him since, but it’s memories like this that make me miss him. RIP Zane, Condolences to your friends and family. You will be missed.


    • Natalie
      Jul 10, 2012 @ 07:25:36

      Dear Carkeys, my deepest sympathies for the loss of your friend. From what I’m hearing, Zane was so much fun, very smart and a real character. All the stuff a friend is made of. Hold tight to your memories, dear. Blessings on you…


  17. DMGoyert
    Jul 09, 2012 @ 17:45:24

    I am Chief Goyert. I was Zane’s advisor in Power School. I too am devastated at hearing of this loss. He will be missed. He did a lot for those around him. What a great man and Sailor. My condolences to all of his family and friends.


    • Natalie
      Jul 10, 2012 @ 07:27:47

      Chief, thank you for your service to our country and for sharing your heart. It’s just impossible to think of this situation without tears — we appreciate your loving tribute to Zane.


  18. Eric Winger
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 10:42:04

    He was far too young. My best wishes to Zane’s family and to you and your sons.



    • Natalie
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 12:52:16

      Eric, thank you so much. Such a tragedy — though I never met Zane, I feel so badly for his family and friends. He was so fine and so full of promise. Who can ever understand these things…


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