I’m Not Going to “Get Over” This

Think back on the most awful thing that has ever happened to you.

Does it still hurt?  Do you still carry scars from where it pierced your soul and broke your heart?

Can you forget it? Really, really forget it?  

Read the rest here:  When Will You Be Over This?

 

Countdown

This week marks the beginning of a countdown no mama wants to observe.  

It’s not the happy “days left ’til delivery” of a newborn bundle of joy.  It’s not “days left ’til school’s out” or prom or a wedding or a college graduation.

Instead it’s a heart-wrenching countdown to all the “lasts” before the final “last time I saw his face”.

Today is the third anniversary of the last time I saw Dominic alive.

The last time I spoke to him in person, the last time I hugged his neck, the last time I hollered, “Be safe!” as he pulled down the long driveway on his way back to his apartment.

I wish I had said more,

hugged more,

studied his face more closely,

breathed in his scent more deeply,

done ANYTHING that would have made that moment more memorable.

But it was just one more ordinary moment in what I was certain would be many more ordinary moments.

Except it wasn’t.

I don’t know how many years it might take for my heart and mind and body and soul to stop marking these dates.  I doubt I’ll live long enough for that to happen.

I’m thankful I will see him again.  But I want to see him NOW.

My heart cries, “I want it back!  Oh, how I want it back!”

My heart hurts.

And it is going to hurt-the countdown is only beginning.  

as long as I live

 

No Condemnation

I had no idea that the last time I spoke with Dominic would be the LAST time I spoke with him.

How could I?

He wasn’t hanging on to life by a thread, threatened with a deadly disease nor involved in risky behavior.  So I wasn’t weighing my words like I might have if the last time I saw him was in a hospital bed or after springing him from rehab.

No, it was just another casual evening “check in”, another random exchange that ended with, “See you tomorrow.  Love you.”

Except tomorrow never came for Dominic even though it surely came for mewith claws and fangs and growling horror.

For some bereaved parents the last words they exchanged with their missing child were awful.  They may have been angry or dismissive.  They may have been distracted and forgot to say, “I love you.”  

And even for us whose words were kind, there is this nagging sense that if we had only known (but how could we?) we would have said something profound, something that would be worth hanging onto if they were hanging onto anything in those last moments before breath left their bodies.

But  I honestly believe that our children-in the Presence of Jesus-are not reciting anything that happened before they reached their beautiful eternal Home.

ALL of my mistakes and sins were nailed to the cross.

gods-grace-through-christ_edited-1.png

That is why there is therefore NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I know it doesn’t take away the feelings of condemnation or guilt, but if Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient (and it IS) then my feelings are lying.  

My relationship with Dominic was filled with love, laughter, affirmation and acceptance.

He knew that then and he knows that now.

I have to remind my heart of the facts until it can hear and embrace them.   

And when it forgets, I remind it again.

hope-and-heart

 

 

Step By Step

I’m gonna just tell you right now:  If you let your mind wander to the days, months and possibly years ahead you will drown in sorrow.

The only way to make this journey is step by step.  

This one moment, this one breath, this one memory bringing tears to my eyes.  I don’t receive the strength for another moment until I live through this one.

But each moment bravely faced speaks courage to my heart for the next.

Some days I feel empty of hope.  Some days it takes every ounce of will to get out of bed. Sometimes I lie there and think, “Can’t I skip today?”

It’s a genuine temptation.  

And then a still, small Voice speaks to my heart and says, “I’m here.  You don’t have to figure it all out, just make the first step.”

So I do.

track record for bad days is 100

 

New Eyes for an Old Story

I’ve studied it many times over a lifetime-beginning with fun “coat of many colors” crafts in preschool and ending with an emphasis on remaining faithful in trials.

Joseph’s story is typically told from his point of view.  

But I’ve never considered it from Jacob’s perspective.  Until now.

Because on Jacob’s side of the door, Joseph was gone, gone, gone-beyond reach, out of sight,  nowhere to be found.

All the while Joseph was very much alive, God was working and Joseph would (ultimately) flourish and Jacob would (ultimately) be reunited with his son.

There was no way for Jacob to know this so, of course, he was heartbroken:

Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.  Genesis 37:34-35

Jacob’s grief was real.  His loss was devastating.  His heart was shattered and there was no substitute for the son he was missing.

I understand that now.

I glossed over these verses in the past-rushing to the “happy ending” promised a few chapters later.

But Jacob didn’t have that option.

He was living these years-one day after another, one foot in front of another, one sunrise, one sunset-never knowing he was making his way toward reunion with a living son.

I share Jacob’s heartbreak.  

My son is out of reach, out of sight, unavailable to my arms and eyes.

But I have something Jacob didn’t have-I know the end of the story.  I have the Bible and its promise that this life is not all there is, that while this body dies, the soul lives on eternally.

And for those who choose Jesus, the soul lives for ever and ever with Him.  

Hallelujah!

While I too, mourn deeply for Dominic, there IS comfort.

I cannot ignore the pain of separation, but I will hold steadfast to the promise of reunion. I cry for what has been lost, but cry out for faith to cling to what will ever be.

This earthly journey is dark, but there is assurance that light will triumph.  

john-1-5

 

 

 

 

My Heart Hurts

Oh, how my heart hurts!

Deep down where no one can touch it-it aches for my missing child, the family I used to have, the lost opportunities, the missed moments.

And there is no cure.

Yes, there is  a Balm in Gilead-there is hope in the Person of Jesus Christ.

And it soothes the pain, takes the edge off, makes it bearable.

But it does not take it away.

faith is not an epidural

I’m sorry if that tosses grit in the works of your theology.  I’m sorry if that makes you a little afraid that if this happened to you, the pain might last a lifetime.

I wish some of the books I’d read, the movies I’d seen, the sermons I’d heard had dealt more honestly and openly with the topic of loss, grief, heartache and unchangeable circumstance.  Most of them minimized the crisis and moved straightaway to the victorious ending.  That’s a convenience and device unavailable to us who are living with the reality day to day.

I can’t turn a page and get to the finale.

I can’t wrap up my experience in three points and a tidy tag line.

So as the ache began to settle in, I questioned my faith.  I questioned my relationship with Jesus.  I questioned my sanity and my strength and my sadness.

What was wrong with me????

Why can others move through and move on????

And then I reexamined the published stories and realized that the arc presented as going from devastation to declaration of God’s goodness was very selective.

If I wanted to, I could craft my narrative the same way.

I am definitely better than I was.  Definitely more confident of God’s working in this Valley than I was.  Definitely more convinced that God will redeem and restore than when I first faced the fact my son was dead.

But it is still a battle.

crisis of faith

It is still a choice that I have to make every day.  It is still something I hold onto IN SPITE of my hurting heart.  My hope has not replaced the pain.  It lives alongside it and sometimes overshadows it-but the pain is still there.

I can not pretend that “all is well” any more than I can claim I understand when Paul writes I am “seated in the heavenlies with Jesus”.

God sees it all in the “right now”.

I am trapped in time.

Yes, these things are true.  But I do not experience them as true right now.

So in the meantime, I wait to see with my eyes what has been promised to my heart.  And the distance between now and then leaves a gaping wound that hurts.

It’s simply the truth.

steadfast-love-in-the-morning

Vocabulary Lesson: Learning the Language of Grief and Loss

How do you speak of the unspeakable?

How do you constrain the earth-shattering reality of child loss to a few syllables?

How do you SAY what must be said?

I remember the first hour after the news.  I had to make phone calls.  Had to confirm my son’s identity and let family know what had happened.

I used the only words I had at the time, “I have to tell you something terrible. Dominic is dead.”

Over, and over, and over.

Until others could pick up the chant and spread it to the ends of the earth.

And then silence.

Such a deep wound requires silence.  Because there are no words for the ache inside a mother’s heart, the pain that burrows into her bones, the sorrow that sucks the breath from her body.

It was some months before I found a community of bereaved parents who began to give me a vocabulary for my experience.

And it was more than helpful, it was liberating!

break-the-chains

As I began to speak aloud what was hidden inside, it broke chains I didn’t realize held me hostage.

As long as my feelings are secret, they trap my heart and mind in an endless cycle of regret, fear, sorrow, pain and anxiety.  When I speak them aloud, I can recognize them and fight them and overpower them.  And when I share them,  I find that I am not alone.

Others come alongside and say, “Me too!”  Validation makes me stronger. Understanding makes me brave.

me too sharing the path

I hate the fact that my son is dead.

I hate the pain that his death has inflicted on me and on my family.

There are days I wish I could run away and hide, that I could pretend this never happened, that I could undo the broken that permeates my life.

But I can’t.

There’s no way through but through.  I have to face the awful truth, I have to consider the ways it is changing me and remaking who I am.

I need words to process the pain because that’s how I can disarm its power over me.

It’s tempting to try to ignore the hard parts of our stories thinking that we are getting away from them.

But we aren’t.

The harder the season, the more profound the wound or bitter the struggle the more time it takes to process.

The first step is learning the words and finding community in which to speak them.

healthy-heart

Here are links to three online communities for bereaved parents:

While We’re Waiting-Support for Bereaved Parents

Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child

TCF-Loss of a Child (The Compassionate Friends)

If you have lost a child and are looking for a place to learn the language of grief and loss, a safe space to share your pain with others who understand it, see if one of these groups might be the place for you.

 

 

Repost: Surrender

“Follow Me,”  Jesus said to the twelve.

“Follow Me,” Jesus said to me when I was just a child.

“Yes,” I replied-not knowing or counting the cost. 

If it was a single commitment without opportunity for turning back then it would be easy.

But it’s not.  

Read the rest here:  Surrender

Bifurcate \ˈbī-(ˌ)fər-ˌkāt, bī-ˈfər-\

Bifurcate:  1. to cause to divide into two branches or parts; 2.  my life.

Before Dominic ran ahead to heaven I led a fairly unified life.  

Our family was unusually close, our goals closely aligned, we shared the same faith, had developed routines and even all liked creamy peanut butter.

That changed when Dom left us-suddenly I was forced to live with one foot HERE and one foot THERE.

I didn’t get to choose, it was decided for me.

Paul’s words took on new meaning and great relevance:

We know that if our earthly house—a mere tent that can easily be taken down—is destroyed, we will then live in an eternal home in the heavens, a building crafted by divine—not human—hands. Currently, in this tent of a house, we continue to groan and ache with a deep desire to be sheltered in our permanent home because then we will be truly clothed and comfortable, protected by a covering for our current nakedness. The fact is that in this tent we anxiously moan, fearing the naked truth of our reality. What we crave above all is to be clothed so that what is temporary and mortal can be wrapped completely in life. The One who has worked and tailored us for this is God Himself, who has gifted His Spirit to us as a pledge toward our permanent home.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5 VOICE

GroanYES!

Deep longing can only be expressed with low, gutteral sounds-there are no words!

I am in this earthly tent but want desperately to be free of it and clothed with the eternal-where joy unspeakable will reign and sorrow and death will be no more.

So this Lenten journey is helpful to me-it acknowledges the struggle between flesh and spirit.  It encourages my heart to walk by faith and not sight, to grab hold of that which counts forever and let go of that which is doomed for destruction.

The truth is, all of us who follow Jesus lead a bifurcated life.

It’s simply that some of us can ignore that truth.  Until death touches our bodies or our families, we can pretend that the earthly tent’s not so bad, that it might be somewhere we’d enjoy staying quite awhile.

I am not at all thankful for Dom’s death.  I will never be thankful my son left us in the prime of life, full of promise and without saying good-bye.

But I am thankful that I am unavoidably confronted with the truth that this life is fleeting, this world is only a moment and this body temporary housing for my eternal soul.

Paul goes on to write:

In light of this [our understanding that our life here is temporary], we live with a daring passion and know that our time spent in this body is also time we are not present with the Lord. The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes. There is no doubt that we live with a daring passion, but in the end we prefer to be gone from this body so that we can be at home with the Lord. Ultimately it does not matter whether we are here or gone; our purpose stays fixed, and that is to please Him.

2 Corinthians 5: 6-9 VOICE

My eyes see one thing, but my heart knows another.

walk by faith feet on path

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Inestimable Value of Rest

It’s not the same as just doing nothing.

Sitting still doesn’t guarantee that the mind remains quiet or the spirit settled.

I know, because sometimes I’ve been forced to stay perched in a chair like a toddler in time out and it was not restful.

At.

All.

But the other day I did spend time in my favorite rocking chair, cozied up to a heating pad with my cat companion

and wrote

and wrote

and wrote.

It was wonderful! And it restored my soul.

I haven’t enjoyed something like that in several months.  Things to do had crowded my schedule, places to go and people to see or talk to had used up nearly every waking moment.

I let rest-genuine, soul-restoring rest-be pushed aside in hopes of making progress on a never-ending list of necessary tasks.

What I failed to take into account was that the more weary I became, the less effective my efforts and the less enthusiastic my attitude-not to mention my rebellious body!

I don’t know why I push harder when I shouldn’t be pushing at all.  Because when I don’t build rest into my schedule, I’m sorely tempted to give up and give in-every little thing becomes a struggle!

The most productive people know when to take a break.  The highest yielding fields remain untilled from time to time.  

Life is hard and if I’m going to make it on this long and laborious journey, I’ve got to learn to take my own best advice:

take-rest-by-ovid

 

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