The fact is, it has been one year already. What are facts when the mind seems to refuse to absorb them. The mind says that one year has lasted several lifetimes, yet it started only a second ago. What does the mind know anyway. The mind plays tricks. Yesterday it could remember exactly the feel of wispy blond hair, as soft as feather down, remember it sticking to the clothes and floating away in the air as chemo spread its poison. Today the mind remembers nothing, it only says to hurry. Hurry, clean the house, leave nothing undone. Hurry, and get ready for the phone call that will rush us to the hospital. That is a nasty trick, there is no phone call. Tomorrow the mind will laugh. It will laugh at the absurdity of anything seeming important or significant. What could possibly be important? No one is dying today who needs me to be there. The fact is, it has been a year since I last saw my little boy, and I should like to pound on the very gates of Heaven for a glimpse of him. I should like to very much.
I won’t begin to pretend I know the first thing about grief and how it ought to be done just right. I know I begin to see I have barely scraped the outer edges of it, and have not had to courage to go much farther that that. I cannot think what a lifetime of years without my boy looks like. And so I do not think of it, I think about today. Any hard thing can be done for a day. Do just today. Do it well. “Give us this day our daily bread.” I never would have believed it, but in many ways this last year of sudden normalcy has been a worse fight to face than years of trauma event after trauma event. It is the same hole to climb out of every single morning. Refusing to climb out of the pit of pain is easier, it requires nothing from me. The circle of light at the top is sharp and demanding, there are expectations, duties, trivialities, relationships, commitments, and a vertical wall of self pity to climb to get to them.
When the unthinkable happens… and it will never un-happen… it forces the question, is God’s power greater than this? If “greater is He that is in me than he the that is in the world” is true, than the screaming silence of the gloomy day is God’s best invitation for me to try Him. It’s right there, mixed in the heavy darkness, the challenge to step in, to try another step, to see for one’s own self if grace will really hold. When the world’s lights dim, when the stage of dreams goes black, when the air of distraction is thick and still, this is when I am treated to the the rare and priceless view of the Source of my faith. The God who was abandoned by humanity in His most crushing hours on earth, “a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief”, is the most determined friend to humanity whom I have ever met.
It is He who persistently pulls the memories from the shelves when I cannot bring myself to look at them. Somehow, I can never tell if He has dusted them off, or if He has somehow tampered with the color of them. They seem to change, to lighten, to become a little clearer every time He touches them. He seats Himself close by in His quiet way when I am most alone, content to let me be so. Before I know it, He has gone and snuck a tune into my heart, lit a fire to warm me, and has fed my soul. It is a kind God who does not deny the harsh cut of sorrow, who does not offer hollow optimism, or minimize cruel disappointments. He knows that somewhere between the last smile, the last high five, the last bath, the last snuggle, the last squishy goodnight hug, my heart had its last innocent look at the stuff called life.
This same kindness that acknowledges the facts of death, makes sure to stick a finger in Heaven’s door, to stand it just a little ajar. In the thin crack of light, one might catch a glimpse of understanding that the One who “hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” has not wrung His hands, worried His mind, or bowed His knee to the great tyrant, death. There are tinkling strands of victory, hope, and redemption blending in perfect harmony to be heard drifting through the air promising better things to come, life industructable, and joy in the morning.
These are the treasures of darkness, and they are mine…the invitation to walk with One who is true and faithful, and find Him there, not for “someone’s” life but for mine. The One who flings stars across the sky, strings strands of DNA, and feeds the lions with His own hand is the same One who walked with sinners, silenced evil, danced death into life, and lives in me. Wait just a little minute, the devil’s curse is temporary pain. Acknowledge it we must, but worship it, we will not.
I sometimes wonder if I should not write about Jed and Christina, and keep the past in the past. I sometimes wonder if I should write more. I don’t really know, except for this, people’s lives weave in and out of each other’s like braided rope. I do not believe we were given what we were given for only our sake’s. I share our journey because it illustrates hope and the world is dying for lack of hope. Difficulty is not an “if” but a “when” for every person on the planet. It must be faced, but what an awful shame for someone to think they had to face it alone! Evil will steal, kill, and destroy, but there is a living God who came to earth to give grace, breathe life, rule evil, and tuck treasures deep in the darkness.
Isaiah 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.