I write a lot about what bereaved parents (me!) wish others knew or understood about child loss and this Valley we are walking. And I am thankful for every person outside the child loss community who chooses to read and heed what I write.
But I want to take a minute to tell those of you who are not part of this awful “club” that I get it-I really do get it–when you need to put distance between yourself and me or other people walking a broken road.
I think Dominic’s death has made me brave in this one tiny place: I say things I might not have said before. I risk pain in relationships where I might not have been willing to risk before. I assume that if I don’t speak important truths RIGHT NOW I might not get another chance.
I long to be a burden bearer for my friends and family because I know what it is to bear a burden.
So I ask and don’t assume.
If someone wants to be left alone, then they are free to tell me.
But I will not stay silent or keep away simply for my own comfort.
If you’ve never been caught short in the midst of an unexpected downpour you might not know how important refuge under the boughs of a cedar or oak tree can be.
Living in the middle of woods, punctuated by open pastures, I’ve retreated more than once to the safety of thick boughs which limit the rain’s ability to soak me through.
I have memorized every safe haven between the road and the middle of my 34 acres.
Faithful friends are like those sheltering trees-offering respite to a weary heart, providing a safe space to take a breath, granting protection when we are pursued by the enemy of our souls.
When Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I was a mess.
Most folks that brushed shoulders with me in public might not have guessed but those who knew me well saw me devolve from “got it together” to “don’t even know what I should be getting together”.
I was utterly devastated.
Some people were repulsed.They either couldn’t handle my ongoing neediness (a week or a month on the prayer list ought to be enough according to them) or they simply found my presence too uncomfortable a reminder that bad things happen regardless of how “good” you are.
But there were a few…a precious, precious few who refused to go away. They showed up and stayed.
It didn’t matter if they had any remarkable insight or help or “solutions” to my heartache.
What mattered is that they bent over my broken heart and provided shelter.
We all need sheltering trees in the storms of life.
And I am beyond thankful for every single person who is brave enough to bear the brunt of evil winds to provide that shelter.