I absolutely understand how it feels to be frozen between “I want to DO something” and “I have no idea WHAT to do”.
It’s where most of us find ourselves when we hear of a loved one compelled to walk the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
It seems pushy to force help on a fragile heart and yet it feels cowardly to stand by while that same heart struggles to complete all the tasks necessary surrounding death.
So what can a caring friend or family member do? Start by showing up.
I remember the morning I got the news and as the sun was coming up, a truck pulled down our lane. It was Robbie-our “adopted” son. As soon as my oldest son (who was in WV at the time) got the call, he called Robbie. Because he knew I would be able to bear Robbie’s presence and accept Robbie’s help.
I cannot describe the relief I felt when he came to the door-another shoulder to help carry this burden until we could gather all our family together to lift it in unison.
And after him came a couple we had known since the kids were little.
Both rushed to our doorstep to offer companionship, practical aid, listening ears and simple reassurance that though this was NOT a dream-oh, how I wanted it to be a dream!–I was not going to walk this Valley alone.
They stayed until my husband, son and parents had made it here. I will never, ever, ever forget that gift of unconditional love and time offered just when I needed it most.
Yes, I live on the other side of the Resurrection-I know the end of the disciples’ vigil-I am convinced of the empty tomb, the ascended Lord and my Great High Priest’s intercession at the right hand of the Father.
But what I long for I cannot hold. What I hope for I cannot touch. What I know to be true I cannot see.
I live in the space between “it looks like everything has gone horribly wrong” and “Hallelujah!”.
It is painful. It is hard.
And it will last for a lifetime, not just a few days.
I’m sharing this again during Holy Week because if I’m honest this week presents lots of moments when I have to sort through my theology once again.
Dominic’s death is inextricably tied to the days between Palm Sunday and Resurrection Sunday. And my heart is twisted into all kinds of uncomfortable shapes every year around this time.
I’ve said before that what I write is as much (or more!) for myself as it may be for anyone else so I’m reminding my own heart that God did not snatch Dominic from my life.
His death is not a punishment nor a hammer nor a lesson.
This is a question that comes up all the time in bereaved parents’ groups: Did God take my child?
Trust me, I’ve asked it myself.
How you answer this question can mean the difference between giving up or going on, between turning away or trusting.
So this is MY answer. The one I’ve worked out through study, prayer and many, many tears. You may disagree. That’s just fine. I only offer it because it might be helpful to some struggling and sorrowful soul.
When my perfectly healthy, strong and gifted son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident on April 12. 2014 my world fell apart. My heart shattered into a million pieces. And after three and a half years, I’ve yet to even FIND all of those pieces much less put them back together.
So what does a heart do when that happens?Because, try as I might, I cannot stop time.
Even THAT awful day only lasted 24 hours.
When the sun rose again, the pain was still there. And behind that pain and mixed with it was something else-disappointment, disaffection, distrust.