I’ve been busy of late. So busy that there hasn’t been time to think or feel. I see this as a mercy because when moments of quiet come I cry. While I don’t think tears are wrong or bad I also don’t want to go back to a place where every time I sit or move or breathe I cry. But the very idea that I don’t want to go back implies progress. I’ve moved from one kind of grief to another less dominate and pervasive grief.
Today is the day before Christmas and less than a week until the year anniversary of Becky’s death. How could it possibly be a year? I remember last Christmas with gratitude that the family was together and enjoyed one last season of laughter and fun with Becky. I remember it with anxiety almost like someone watching a movie and wishing, wishing that I could say “No! Stop! Don’t drive that van home – stay in a motel!!” There is an inevitable forward motion in the sequence of days that I couldn’t stop then and that I certainly can’t undo now. But oh how I would if I could.
Woven into the dark sorrow are shiny strands of blessing. I’ve so enjoyed having our pre-adolescent grandchildren in our lives again. Their move here has blessed me and stretched me and caused me to depend even more upon God. They gave us a reason to again enjoy some of the traditions and trappings of Christmas that I’m not sure I could’ve faced without their presence to motivate me. They spent an evening decorating our tree and house with us. Today we painted little plaster houses and shops together with Aunt Joni and started a new tradition where together we will set out this little village each year. They are thrilled with the presents under the tree and can’t wait to be with the various branches of the family to celebrate Christmas this year. All of this is the sweetness of life.
Over this year God has shown me Himself in ways I’d not known before Becky died and sorrow overtook me. He is sufficient even in the most extreme circumstance. He loves me and He comforts me and He provides even before I know to ask. He created me as I am and accepts my weakness. His people continue to reach out to me and pray for me and those I love. The truths that I ‘knew’ before are the bedrock of my life now and sustain me day in and out.
These days I feel like a walking paradox. I’m deeply sad, but full of joy. I could care less about Christmas, but thrill again at seeing it through the eyes of a child. Tinsel and tradition don’t move me, but the undeniable truth of Christmas keeps my head above water and is the air I breathe.
Just six more nights and we’ll be past this year of firsts. I have deliberately brought Him the first fruits of my grief over this year – hiding nothing from Him and seeking to honor and glorify Him in that grief. In return He is pouring His cooling and comforting Spirit over me and keeping me afloat.
Becky – this year you have the better part as you celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, with Him! This is another new thing from this year of learning – I can’t wait to be with the Lord! The Spirit and the Bride say ”Come!”
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17