It was the question I asked the bereaved mother that came to my son’s funeral.
It was the question a mother asked me as we stood by her granddaughter’s casket, surrounded by family and flowers.
And it is the right question.
Because when the breath leaves the body of your child, and you look down at the shell that used to be the home of a vibrant, living soul, you simply can. not. breathe.
What should be an autonomic, automatic, don’t-even-think-about-it bodily function escapes you.
When your lungs finally scream for oxygen, your body takes over, against your will.
And even more than two years later, it’s where I still live-between the conscious world of aching loss that drains me of the will to go on and the unconcious biology of a body still functioning without my permission.
I live in a no-man’s-land with one foot in the HERE AND NOW and one foot in FOREVER.
But there are no bright flags to mark its borders, no crossing guards to give warning to the people I mingle with every day that they are over there- outside my world of hurt-and I am stuck in here.
And so they wave from across the way, cheerful and unburdened by the weight of sorrow I drag around. They give me odd looks now and then, vaguely unsettled by my inability to plunge unrestrained into their fun.
Memory escapes them-what happened? how long has it been? shouldn’t she be over that by now?
They can’t understand, and I’m thankful for that.
“How do you breathe?”
Only the ones who share the secret knowledge know the answer to that question.
You learn to will your heart to keep beating and your lungs to keep filling because there are others who depend on you and who need you to stay.
You can’t hold your breath forever, even if you want to.
You lean harder on the hope you have in Christ.
You recite verses and hymns and fill your mind with the promises of Jesus.
And you beg the Spirit of God to fill you to fullness with His breath, His life and His hope.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NLT