It gets harder and harder to be honest the longer I walk this Valley.
Because it’s natural that those for whom Dom’s death was a moment in time, a short season of mourning, an unfortunate incident they sometimes look back on with sadness and regret but don’t live with daily move on.
The further we get in time from the actual moment of Dominic’s sudden departure, the larger the gap between my heart and theirs.
I understand that.
But that chasm is more and more difficult for me to bridge.
It requires energy and effort I don’t always have to reach out and reach across and try to help them understand me.
So sometimes I just don’t.
There is always going to be a blank space where Dominic SHOULD be, but isn’t.
There are always going to be places that aren’t colored in because that part of the canvas belongs to HIM.
There is always, always, always going to be pain when I line up for family photos, set the table for family dinners, go on family trips, wrap presents, send cards, list names on documents because HE IS NO LONGER HERE.
Others think the water fills in where the stone sank down.
But my mama heart knows exactly where those ripples ought to be.
So I quietly remember, quietly mourn, quietly mark that special spot-smiling on the outside.
It was a harsh sentence: Forty years of wandering in the desert for not putting their faith and trust in the God who had delivered them from bondage.
But wandering wasn’t the half of it.
Death surrounded them. All those adults who gave in to fear were doomed to die before the forty years were finished.
Can you imagine how many graves were dug in the wilderness? How many tears were shed? How many fists raised to the sky or hands to hearts begging, begging, begging for the sojourn of sadness to end?
So it was no accident that the Lord commanded Israel to set her camp with the Tent of Meeting at the center. He wanted them always to be aware of His enabling, powerful, holy Presence.
Even in the midst of judgement, death and sorrow. He was there.
And God is here with me in the midst of my mourning too. I am thankful for His Presence.
But the most beautiful promise is that there will be a Day when He will wipe away all the tears. He will redeem all the pain. He will undo all the damage death has wrought.
Joy will once again be untainted by sorrow.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Revelation 21:3-4 KJV
I make seasonal wreaths for Dominic’s resting place. I include these verses every time.
Because I believe them with my whole heart.
I love the way The Jesus Storybook by Sally Lloyd-Jones renders them:
And the King says, “Look! God and his children are together again. No more running away. Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid. No more being sick or dying. Because all those things are gone. Yes, they’re gone forever. Everything sad has come untrue. And see – I have wiped away every tear from every eye!“
Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones
“Everything sad has come untrue.”
Heaven will not simply be rest after a long life’s struggle.
It will be restoration, redemption, recreation and resurrection.
Every thing stolen will be restored. Every thing bartered away by sin will be redeemed. Every thing destroyed by carelessness, hatefulness and cruelty will be recreated in perfection. And every thing dead and buried will be resurrected to life everlasting.
I can’t wait. ❤
What does it mean to you that “God is here”?
What do you think Heaven is like? Is your idea informed by popular media or by Scripture?
Does the idea of “everything sad coming untrue” speak courage to your heart? Why or why not?
If you have felt God’s presence in this Valley, how has He manifested that? If you haven’t felt His presence, would you consider asking Him to make Himself real to you today?
I’ll admit that sometimes future hope is not much to hold onto when sorrow and longing and despair overwhelm my heart. I need to feel Your Presence here and now. I’m not asking for a burning bush, but give me assurance that You have not abandoned me.
Fill my heart with hope and help me hold onto the promise that one day all this pain will be redeemed. Give me an eternal perspective.
My deployed son began his trek back home to his wife and newborn son.
My youngest son went on the bachelor trip with his soon to be brother-in-law and was incommunicado for almost 72 hours which always makes me nervous.
My daughter’s wedding is only a few weeks away and there is so much to do. Fun things. Things I want to do.
My companion animal and faithful sidekick died two weeks ago and I haven’t been sleeping nearly as well as I did before
It was the fifth anniversary of Dominic’s death and funeral.
I didn’t cry, but then I did.
And I couldn’t stop.
I just couldn’t stop.
How in the world can it be five years? I can’t explain it to anyone who hasn’t buried a child. But I keep trying. The giant chasm between what I thought life would be like and what it actually turned out to be is so wide that it’s impossible to comprehend. I’m living it and I can’t comprehend it.
I am trying so, so hard to participate.
I’m working at keeping grief at bay and leaning into the life I have without constantly comparing it to the life I thought I would have or the life I wanted instead. I’m purposing to keep my expectations low so I won’t be disappointed.
But it’s not working.
I think I’m just at the end of my personal resources. I think I’ve exhausted any reserve I might have had. I’m leaning into Truth and holding onto the hem of His garment.
Most everything I have to do is on these 35 acres or within a mile of my home. And my routine is pretty much the same seven days a week.
So Mondays aren’t really all that big a deal. But rainy days? Well, those make EVERYTHING more challenging.
It’s been one heck of week here. Heavy rain for at least an hour or more each day means that it’s so soggy I can barely tell the difference between the mud and the manure (and that’s an important distinction to make around here!).
My driveway is a river. I haven’t had to fill water troughs for days because it rains as much as the horses, donkeys and goats drink.
Gray days infect my soul with a kind of weariness that’s hard to express.
I’m always just a breath or two away from overwhelming sadness, and when there is day after day after day of rain and clouds and mud and muck it often overtakes me.
I try so hard to buck up and ignore it. But I’m not always successful.
Mornings are good. If I sleep well the night before, I can get going and momentum carries me through until a little after lunchtime. Somewhere between three and four in the afternoon, I usually lose the battle.
Willpower just isn’t enough to overcome the sense of “what’s the use” that nips at my heels like a terrier chasing a squirrel.
So I usually give in. Sometimes I even go on to bed.
I feel like a failure.
I used to be able to work hard for a good 18 hours out of every 24.
Mainly because what usually determines THAT is something that happens (or doesn’t happen) at some point after my morning quiet time.
But whether it’s a good day, a bad day or somewhere in between, it is absolutely, completely, utterly NORMAL for my emotions to change as I make my way down the path called “Child Loss”.
As long as I am doing the work grief requires I will continue to have some better days.
But grief still comes in waves in response to triggers or in response to nothing at all and it may be a bad day.
How well did I sleep, rest, eat or exercise? My body affects my emotions in ways I don’t fully understand but absolutely experience.
Stress can bring tears to the surface. Even GOOD stress can do it. Looking forward to things, planning a party, large meal, trip or event is stressful, even if it isn’t sad. All stress weakens my defenses and makes it harder to employ the techniques I’ve mastered for diverting my thoughts or controlling my tears.
Sunshine or rain? I have learned to count the number of recent cloudy days if I wake one morning feeling bluer than normal. I often realize that a week or more has passed since I’ve seen the sun.
Too much interaction or too little interaction with other humans makes a BIG difference. My introvert self loves long afternoons alone, sitting in silence with a book or crochet, quiet walks in the woods and chore-filled days without music blaring. But healthy solitude can turn to withdrawal if I let it and sometimes I realize my sudden sense of overwhelming grief is, in part, due to lack of human company.
The list is endless.
Thankfully, at nearly five years, the better days outnumber the worse ones for me.
But no matter what kind of day it may be, I no longer worry if it’s normal.
It happens most often as I am drifting off to sleep.
There is this one spot on the bedroom bookshelf where my eyes landed that first night-one paperback spine that instantly transports me to the moment I had to close my eyes on the day I found out my son would never come home again.
And it is fresh.
Absolutely, positively fresh.
Like “just happened” fresh.
You’d think that nearly five years of intervening experience, nearly five years of grief work, nearly five years of trying so darn hard to learn to tuck that feeling away deep down so it can’t escape would have worked whatever magic time is supposed to work.
But it hasn’t.
Oh, most days I can lock that lid down tight. I can distract my mind, busy my hands and keep my heart from wandering too close to despair.
Shadows and silence and stillness give room for the memory to rise to the surface.