In case you’re wondering if joy will ever return, I want to assure you that it most certainly can.
It will take a lot longer than you wish it might, but it is there, waiting for you to welcome it.
At first it just felt WRONG to have a moment of happiness because if the pain of missing Dominic somehow didn’t fill my heart I was afraid it meant my love for him was fading. If the broken pieces were knitted back together then maybe one day they’d mend so well I couldn’t find the spot where he fit in.
But I’ve learned no amount of present joy will squeeze out that space where Dominic lives.
I can love him, miss him, sorrow over his absence and still revel in the beautiful blessings the Lord brings into my life.
Just this week I had the privilege of watching my grandson while his mother and father had a little time away. It was so much fun (and hard work!). I had forgotten how exciting it is to view the world through a young child’s eyes. Everything is new, everything is wonderful, everything is worthy of exploration and comment.
The little fellow walked down the hall my great-grandmother walked, my grandmother walked and my mother walked pointing a finger and asking, “This?” as he passed photos and paintings, doo dads and doorways.
The sixth generation to hear the creaking hardwood and learn about life.
We showed him family photos and talked about Uncle Dominic. It raised a lump in my throat each time but it also helped me place Dom in his story-helped me learn how to talk about the uncle he will never know except for what we share.
I’m not going to lie.
More than a few times tears threatened to make their way down my cheek as I held his little hand and remembered holding another one just like it decades ago. Nostalgia can be hard to swallow when it’s all you have left of someone you love.
But I reminded my heart that it is big enough for both.
I can miss what I once had ANDdelight in what I have now.
I don’t often pull the “you never know if today may be the last day for someone you love” card.
But I’m going to do it now.
People. Just stop.
Your need for a latte does not trump the necessity to stay away from potential sources of infection. Your need to socialize with friends because you “just can’t stand to sit inside one more minute” is not an excuse for ignoring requests from health care professionals to stay home.
Your careless and carefree attitude is putting others at risk.
It’s entirely possible that if or when you contract Covid19 it’s no more than a miserable two weeks. But it’s also entirely possible that the person you give it to might die.
Trust me, you don’t want to be the one who brought it home to your mama, your daddy, your spouse or your child.
There is nothing easy about watching someone you love suffer. It’s even harder to be forbidden from sitting next to his or her bedside, holding a hand, wiping a fevered forehead.
Dominic died almost six years ago. It is no easier on my heart this minute than it was then.
This is not a joke, not overblown, not a government conspiracy or a hoax perpetrated by whomever you think might do such a thing.
Do you love your family and friends?
REALLY love them?
If you do, thenSTAY HOME!
For those of you (like two of my children) who perform essential work during this crisis, thank you.
And may God place a hedgeof protection around you and those you love.
For many of us there’s a sense of being locked in time, stuck in space, unable to leave the moment one received the news or the few days before and after.
It’s maddening that the earth still turns, the sun still rises and people go on with life when in so many ways our world is frozen in place.
Elizabeth Gilbert describes deep grief as a “coordinate on the map of time” and a “forest of sorrow”.
I like that.
Child loss is a place no parent wants to go. I found myself in territory so unfamiliar there was no way to get my bearings.
Left alone, I faltered, would have stayed lost, was doomed to walk in circles trying to find my way out.
I desperately needed a guide.
Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.
Thankfully some parents, further along in this awful journey, created safe spaces for broken hearts to gather and to share.
I am oh, so grateful to them for that!
Not everyone who finds the way to hope and light chooses to come back for those still wandering in the forest of sorrow.
But some do.
They retrace painful steps carrying a torch and say, “Come with me. I can show you the way to hope.”