Death is surrounded by ritual and sharing.
Friends pour in and bring food, church members call and drop by, cards arrive in the mail to express sympathy and solidarity. We compose and publish an obituary. We choose the songs for a funeral. We stand and greet the mourners who file by the casket, shaking hands and heads and sharing stories and sorrows. Together we lower the casket and eat a meal.
So much activity.
So many people.
But then you go home. To the empty room. To the empty heart.
Funerals are public, but grief is solitary.
The comfort offered by others sheds light on my path, but in the darkness of night it’s only the light of a single candle that helps me find the way toward sunrise.
When Jesus prayed in the Garden, He asked His disciples to keep watch with Him but hey fell asleep. He struggled alone to embrace and accept the will of His Father.
I think often of His pain and find it easy to understand that He sweat blood.
The light that gave Him courage to face the grim task before Him was the promise of the unfailing love of the Father and the trustworthy character of His God.
It was the only hope for victory out of seeming defeat.
Sometimes I struggle to find courage to face the task of grieving my son for a lifetime. I cling to the promise of God’s unfailing love. I trust that He will redeem and bring victory.
This is the Light I cling to in the inky black of sleepless nights:
“God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away.” ~ Revelation 21:4
Just a few months before Dominic was killed, this hoarding homeschool mama decided that it was time to finally give up some of the thousands of pages of handwritten, color-crayoned papers stacked in the attic, the storage building and floating in corners and crevices throughout the house.
Four children and twenty-two years of teaching them at home had produced a mountain of memories. I began to sort through the ones I deemed “most important to keep” and “everything else”.
Several loads were taken to the dump and tossed unceremoniously onto the trash pile.
It felt like freedom.
Now it feels like regret and longing.
Because what I have left of the physical presence of my son is represented in the scraps I have kept-the clothes, the notes, the scribbled comments in the margins of his notebooks and college texts.
I hear his voice in the tweets– his wit and wisdom, cynicism and societal critique.
Sometimes I hold them and think of the boy,the teen,the man who wrote them.
Sometimes I hurry past because thinking of who he was and feeling the absence of who he would be right now is too great to bear.
I wish he had left more voice mails-
I don’t erase them anymore.
From the start, if you didn’t want Dominic to do something, you couldn’t let him see you do it. One glance and he memorized the steps to turn on the TV, the computer, the video player (yes, he was a child of the 90’s). If he saw his dad use a hammer, the first chance he got to lay hands on one found him pounding away. He was always up for being first.
I never thought he would be the first to get to heaven.
On April 12, 2014 my third born child, in the prime of his life, fit and healthy, strong and lovely, died in a motorcycle accident.
No warning. No good-bye.
Here one instant, gone the next. He was twenty-three and less than a mile from his apartment.
There are no words for the moment when your world is changed from what you imagine it can be to the unbearable reality of what it is. The ache that begins in your gut and spreads to edges of your soul. “My child is dead.” You must repeat it to yourself because it cannot be true. But it is.
I am a bereaved mother and join the millions of women who have buried a child. It is no place for a mama-standing by her child’s grave.
This is not the life I would choose but it is the one I have been given. I am learning to walk this new way, with this burden of grief on my shoulders. God is still God and I will choose to remember that.
“Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him;” Job 13:15
This is the excerpt for your very first post.
I didn’t choose this life. I didn’t choose to become a bereaved mother–a mama mourning the too-soon loss of one of her precious children. But God, in His wisdom, has chosen this life for me. This blog is a peek into my heart.
I am a journal keeping, Scripture reading, favorite verse copying woman. In the three and a half years before Dominic’s death, I had slowed my Bible reading to a crawl–limiting myself to one chapter a day and writing it out in my journal. After decades of church attendance, I realized that the stories had become too easy to rush through, the verses too familiar to resonate deeply in my spirit. So I had just finished my journey through God’s Word in this way when my son was killed.
It was obvious to me that God had been preparing my heart for that awful moment for three and a half years! In His mercy and grace I had no clue. No premonitions. No idea that one Saturday morning I would wake to the news that my child had died instantly.
I am trying to be as honest as my heart allows. I want others to see both the pain of loss and the faithfulness of God in the midst of loss.
I will not minimize the darkness. Because light shines brightest in darkness.