I haven’t written in a long time, and several people have asked me about that. I guess on the practical side of life, I am busy. We’ve had colds, one baby has had pneumonia, and life is just full right now. But there is also a heaviness that weighs on us constantly, the heaviness of grief dancing like an elephant, clumsy yet powerful, above our heads as we straddle life and death with Kara.
It’s a strange position to be in; I don’t feel that it’s appropriate to inform everyone what lives in my heart now. When my hairdresser recently—and kindly—asked how I was doing, I fought the urge to burst into tears and tell him that one of my closest friends is dying. Instead I smiled and we chatted about other things.
Maybe it would have been okay to tell him—or others—about my sadness, but I’m not all that comfortable putting people in the position to have to respond. We spend our lives trying to pretend that friends don’t die, marriages don’t end, predators don’t prey. We like living in ignorance. Or at least, I do. It’s a fairyland of fake happiness rooted in the delusion that my sweet little life will always be sweet. Having been through my own tragedies, I am still caught off guard when others share theirs with me. I am jarred back into the reality that we are always straddling life and death. That one foot is on this earth dealing with pain and loss, and the other foot is inching toward eternity.
Jason recently wrote about the difficulty of dealing with the mundane in the midst of sorrow. It reminded me of when my parents died. My sister had called me at college, and I was driving home but needed to get gas. I am sure my face was swollen and red as I approached the attendant, who ignorantly gave me change and wished me a good night. I stood there staring at him. What a strange thing getting gas seemed to be all of a sudden. How petty and unimportant. I remember thinking, How can you just stand there like all is right in this world? Don’t you know my parents just died? How is the earth still turning?
I skimmed through the comments on Jason’s post. I was struck by how many people shared their stories of loss—spouses, parents, siblings, friends, children. Sad, horrible, gut-wrenching stories. Everybody eventually experiences loss. We all will inevitably know the pain of which Jason writes in some fashion.
So do I remain in my happy fairyland? That is my question every day. Shall I go through the motions and pretend, wish, that everything is okay? Or do I develop some kind of coping mechanism so that I can not only get through my days, but avoid as much pain as possible?
The other night I was talking to Aaron about the woman I hope to become. We all know women who seem disconnected from intimacy and community, unwilling to move toward people who are messy and ugly, women who are afraid of pain. I get that. I totally get that. But I don’t want to be that. I want to move toward the pain because that is moving toward Jesus. I want to engage grief, because that is engaging Christ. I want to accept the reality of a broken heart because that is accepting the reality of a God who loves me and who will ultimately wipe my tears forever.
One of the commenters said that her house is filled with “grief and grace”. I love that. There is a certain tender, deep, intimate grace from Jesus that meets us in the brokenness of grief. I want that grace. I want it to wash over my messy heart, to seep into the scabs of this new pain, to give me a glimpse of the grace that is to come.
I am sorry if this post is disjointed and if my thoughts are scattered. I want to honor those of you who have pursued me and asked me to write and who have asked me how I’m doing. Thank you for caring.