The decorations are down and sealed in boxes waiting for strong arms and backs to put them in their places in our garage. The New Year has begun and tomorrow we enter into the routine we’ve not been in since the beginning of December. In this transition time I’ve been thinking a lot about last year and the year to come.
The year 2011 began as a living nightmare. I remember in vivid detail the events of the end of 2010 and of the first day, first week, and first month of 2011. Because of the clarity of my memories I can also see clearly the contrast today brings. There has been significant healing and accommodation since we lost Becky. Had we somehow been stuck in the place we were the first few days after Becky died we would either be with her now or in a facility receiving care and medication. I again have this sense of concentric circles of grief with Jacob at ground zero. Jacob was completely incapacitated and the rest of us circled his grief robotically doing the things that kept life and limb together. Over time each of us have been able to more fully experience our grief and entered our own times of sorrowful prostration. As the year unwound I looked toward the month of December 2011 with a certain amount of dread. December is rich with opportunities to miss those we love and Becky’s December birthday and the day of her death added other days to miss her. But those ‘missing’ times ended up being good. We had family in and remembered Becky and enjoyed each other and it was good. I’m so thankful for this truth.
We miss Becky. We hurt. We cry. We would have her back into our lives in a heartbeat. But we are living again in a full, rich, if broken way. We are a new family, made new by loss. The reality is that all of us and all families are being remade over the course of the years. We experience marriages, births and even death of the aged as anticipated changes that alter the look and feel of our family units. For us the change was an instantaneous loss to which we’ve needed to adjust in retrospect, not in anticipation. So we look back remembering as a way to move forward remaking our family.
I still struggle to understand our sovereign God’s hand in this loss. Did He orchestrate it, causing Becky’s accident for His inscrutable purposes? Or was Becky’s death simply an accident that He has carried us through and is using for His purposes? In a way it doesn’t matter because the outcome is the same. God’s heart, His desire to enter into the lives of men, His desire to save is being accomplished in the midst of this situation. He is carrying us, healing us, remaking us, using us, and glorifying Himself in all that surrounds this hard, hard loss. We’ve been carried to a place called ‘grief’ and He is also bringing us back from that captivity as we seek Him with all of our hearts. And once again, as in the beginning, I can declare that “God is good all the time”!
“This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:10-14