“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
Dare I say it? Today feels better. In fact this week has felt better. Don’t misunderstand me. I still miss Becky and hurt to think of my inability to talk to her and hug her. But I didn’t wake up in pain and I don’t have that ‘surface-level tears’ feeling that has been so prevalent in my waking hours. Steve, on the other hand, is hurting more today. He is just plain missing Becky. I can see the sorrow weighing him down and coloring the activities of his day.
I love that God has given us each other. I’ve felt this way through the days of our life together, but never more than as we’ve gone through Becky’s transition to heaven. In God’s graciousness we’ve not been in a place of deep mourning at the same time. Immediately after the memorial service for Becky, I left Corvallis to spend a couple of weeks with Jacob, Amity and Dara. While I was there I processed grief with them. A lot of that processing was working through what they were experiencing – especially Amity and Dara. I held my grief at arm’s length until my return home. Steve, on the other hand, was home alone and faced his deepest sorrow during that two weeks. He ‘turned a corner’ just before I returned home. Because of that, when I came home and collided with my grief he was more able to lift me up.
Something similar happened as we returned from our two week vacation. Being away seemed to give me a time of reprieve from grief. When we returned from the trip I once again collided with intense grief. A lot of that pain had to do with planning into the upcoming graduation ceremony where Becky will be awarded a posthumous Doctorate of Pharmacy. The back and forth with her friends and Creighton’s administration brought back all of the ‘whys’ I’ve asked about Becky’s death. I took a week to process this with the Lord and came again to a place of equilibrium about missing Becky. But then Steve recently saw some of the information about the memorial service for Becky that the Creighton student body is preparing and he was plunged into the same place I was a week ago.
Grief will not be domesticated. It doesn’t fit some identifiable and convenient schedule. It isn’t ‘normal’. It just is. I appreciate Steve’s willingness to let me grieve when I need to grieve. And I’m thankful that I am able to allow him the same freedom. We keep each other in prayer and we trust God’s healing for each other.
The scripture above from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 was a key part of our ‘candle-lighting ceremony’. In the women’s dorms at Ozark Christian College when a man and woman are engaged the girls from the dorm sit in a circle in a darkened room and scripture is shared that defines the relationship of the man and woman to be engaged. A lit candle with the ring attached is sent around the circle during the ceremony. No one knows who the engaged couple is until the bride-to-be blows out the candle and puts on the ring. The future groom joins the bride-to-be and they accept the congratulations of the girls from the dorm. Ecclesiastes 4 speaks to the power of relationship – that two are better than one and a cord of three strands is not easily broken. How I praise God for Steve’s love that lifts me up and for the power of Christ that keeps each of us and the two of us strong in the face of grief. The scripture that defined our relationship then, continues to powerfully define our relationship now.