Sadness Abounds

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My exhausted girls snuggled into their car seats as we drove away from the bright lights of the hospital building.  The night’s darkness enveloped us as we arrived at the quiet hotel on the edge of town. I suddenly realized I could hear a high-pitched, quiet string of mumbles coming from Charlotte.

I turned down the cd that was blaring Disney music and gently asked what she was saying. Her words picked up volume but retained their high-pitched tone, “I wish they didn’t eat the fruit.”

“Who ate the fruit sweetie?” I coaxed

“Adam and Eve. I wish they didn’t eat the fruit. I wish that none of us had to die… Ever.”

*****

My daughters’ grandma is dying.  My husband’s mommy.  My mother-in-law.   She is  fighting, and I’m grateful for all the good days we’ve had in the face of a daunting diagnosis… but the truth is, heaven is very close for her now, and it still seems so very far away for the rest of us.

My girls seem to have an intuitive sense for how to live in the moment.  Mostly moving from one moment of sunshine to the next, but when the deep, dark elements of reality well up they move through those as well. 

We walked beside our daughters in the horrible surprise of Graham’s loss and we stand beside them now during grandma’s slow and steady goodbye. I’m so very proud of my girls, but I am also very disappointed in our circumstances…  Sadness abounds.

As you may imagine, I am facing many fresh layers of complex grief and pain, but am making the choice to not explore these issues on the blog.  This leg of my journey is shared with others, and I feel compelled to be sensitive, kind, and discreet.  So, I will likely be quiet for awhile…  Please know, we are well supported and God is most certainly good.  

*****

Nora popped onto Grandma’s hospital bed and in the middle of her goodbye hug, spurted out, “Grandma, are you going to die?”

As Grandma began to cry and struggled to answer, Nora cheerily inturrupted, “Heaven’s nice, Graham’s there.  And I’ll go there someday too.”

Please

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I stopped praying.  Graham died and I stopped praying.  It wasn’t a choice, exactly, it was just that I found it impossible.  The death of my son literally ripped a hole through me that went on forever.  It was the closest I have ever come to understanding the vastness of eternity, and God had never seemed bigger in the face of this gaping emptiness.  So, with a god so amazing, an injury so seething… what could I possibly say?  What words could I possibly imagine that would begin to touch the magnitude, the horror… the love.

So I just stopped.  Sometimes I would manage a sideways glance toward heaven, a purse-lipped head nod of acknowledgment… but no words… and communion only in the waves of misery.  I knew, somehow, that I wasn’t drowning, even as the torrents engulfed me.  I knew, somehow, it was because God was in me.

In the car, racing towards my dead son, my last prayers were incredibly simple.  “You are big, you are good, you are Lord!  Please, please!   You are good, you are Lord.  Please…” Over and over again. I wept, I mumbled, I screamed.

I had spent all of Graham’s life practicing trust, practicing rest – growing close to a worthy God who rescued and lavished life.  So, even with my son’s very life held out before me, all I could muster was praise.  All I could ask was, please. Please save him? Save me? Please?? The emphasis of my words were on his character and not a demand – I didn’t fight.

But what if I had fought for the life of my son? Wrestled the God of the universe?  What if instead of believing in the sovereignty of God I believed in his power, and what if I called on that power instead of crying out praise?  It’s not that I didn’t have fight within me, it’s just… I’m not sure winning was the goal.   But what then?  What could possibly be more important than the life of my very own son… Jesus, I guess.  Jesus?

This is my one regret (and as regrets often go, it doesn’t make sense and it doesn’t ring true, yet it appears before me again and again in the shadows of my doubt).  I’m not sorry for dropping him off at daycare that day, or letting him sleep with a blanket.  I don’t feel guilty about not leaving work early, or wish I had snuggled him more.  But I do wonder how things might have been different had I followed Graham to the depths of eternity, stood before an expansive God and said, “NO.”  Not please, but “NO.”  Certainly Graham was worth that, and if I had not already given my heart and soul to Jesus, I might very well have offered it up as a sacrifice that day.

The flood waters have receded some, and I find myself desperate for communion and direction, but am still struggling with how to speak to my great God… and for what purpose.  I let my spirit grumble and whimper, hoping that this is sufficient for now… all the while, fiercely protecting the flikering light of gratitude that sputters deep within me – a little light that somehow wasn’t snuffed out completely.

Soon Enough

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Charlie rubbed her eyes and quietly yawned herself awake.   Her mop of tangled, slept-on hair shot out behind her as she sat up in her bed and welcomed the morning.

“Mom,” she started.  “Jesus told me I would die soon enough.”

I paused and considered what she was telling me, feeling unnerved and unprepared.  It was an interesting choice of words, and a vulnerable time to share them.  How best should I direct this conversation, this thought process?  What did she need from me, where was her heart?  Should we discuss prayer?  Fear?

As the silence grew between us, I rushed to bridge the gap and asked her, “How did that make you feel?

“Good.”  She stated simply.

In the silence of my mind, I sat in surprised stillness.

Taking a deep breath, I smiled and tousled her hair, “Well, God is the only one who knows for sure, but I hope you’re an old, old lady when you die. Now let’s get ready for school.”

When she first made her declaration, I didn’t consider the possibility that Jesus really was talking to my daughter as she slept, but instead assumed that Charlie was expressing herself using the jargon and spiritual framework we have shared with her.

However, her message from Jesus is indeed, I suppose, a true statement – although a strange one, and Charlotte was satisfied to accept it as an answer for what I can only assume was a silent question she held within herself.  So, I wonder…  Is Jesus actually wrapping himself around the very heart and soul of my daughter and breathing his truth into her dreams?  I certainly hope so.

Who better to heal her heart, than Jesus?  Who better to explain things?  To bring peace?