Vacation seemed to grant me breathing-space. I suppose because I was in a different place surrounded by different things, I had times of not thinking about Becky. There were hours, even days, of not feeling that deep sadness or the sudden wave of grief. But even on vacation there were times when I was ambushed. I remember sitting at the breakfast table with Steve and a father and son from Washington D.C. We were sharing some ‘getting to know you’ conversation when the man mentioned that he was retired but his wife still worked as a hospital pharmacist and loved her job. In May Becky will be awarded her Doctor of Pharmacy degree posthumously. Steve and I will be at her graduation, but she won’t. Grief washed over me (and does as I write this), and tears came immediately. Ambushed.
Coming home has been a shock to me too. It is as if my psyche is making up for two weeks of relative freedom from grief. Once again the daily, almost momentary, reminders press on me. I am ready to move on – I want to be done – but clearly I’m not done with the hard part yet. I can think of three other times in my life when I felt this way – the birth of each of my girls. Especially when Kristin, our first daughter, was born I came to a point in the process where I just wanted to quit and go home. I labored 24 hours before Kristin made her appearance and most of those hours were pretty intense as Steve and I opted for natural childbirth. Obviously quitting and going home wasn’t an option and neither is it for me in this grief process.
There are times when my grief feels almost like an obsession. I don’t want my sorrow over Becky, the hole left in my life by her absence, to take over my life. I’ve always appreciated and enjoyed the evident and abundant gifts God has given in my life. Steve, our girls, their precious families, our extended family, our church, my dear friends, a wonderful home, I could go on and on. And above all of this I’ve felt blessed in my relationship with God.
In the last few weeks I’m seeing how this loss could become an idol in my life. I could easily lift it up above everything else – even my relationship with God. I’m trying to be vigilant against this and looking to the Lord for help. I don’t want to shortchange my grief process – I will ride it out until the experience I had on vacation becomes the norm. But I also still want to enjoy my relationship with God and appreciate all the other good gifts in my life. “Oh Lord, You are the giver of all good things – even eternal life. I love You and trust You and come to You for comfort in this loss. Give me perspective – Your perspective. Thank You that You hear my prayers and the deeper prayers of my spirit.”
“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.” Jonah 2:7-9