Over time you move on.
And once you've moved on,
you're over the one/s you’ve lost.
A part of me wishes these words were true.
For if they were, the aching would cease.
The breath would catch. The tears would vanish.
But if that were so, the memories would be gone. The precious memories would be lost forever. If there were no feelings attached to the memories, what good are they? Just facts in your brain. A past to file away.
Without the ache…there is no real. The constant ache keeps the blood pumping through the veins of your heart. It keeps the memories alive. It keeps them warm. A warmth that provides comfort in the icy, bitter, and extremely cold storms of grief.
The storms. We all go through them. Their talked about in the media, their highlighted in reality shows, and their depicted in the movies and on sitcoms quite dramatically. In fact, I chuckled (and shed a few tears) more than once while watching the new Gilmore Girls. Their individual responses to grief was heart wrenching…and even relatable at times. For example, the refined Emily Gilmore started wearing jeans; something she would never be caught dead doing before. She stayed in bed longer than she ever had and was completely fine with an entire maid’s family moving in. Her whole perspective changed and the way she related with people became entirely different. She stopped doing things just because she had always done them and she started seeing people, not for who they portrayed themselves to be, but for who they really were. She had a wall sized picture of her late husband in her living room and acted as if it was normal, even though she knew good and well it wasn’t. And then, she put her comfortable and very familiar home up for sale to move to a place completely different. She wanted to see the stars. To hear the ocean. To find herself yet again, or possibly, for the very first time. Death changes you. Grief destroys you. Not always in a negative way, though. It shapes you. It molds you. It gives you new lenses to see the world in a whole new way.
Your heart aches. But your life continues.
So how do you live? How do you breathe? How does one function in the present when memories surface from the past moment by moment?
You smile. At concerts; when an acoustic guitar is played. When you see a fool jamming to music in his car. When you see a facial expression that resembles his. When you see his favorite football team score on TV. When you see a dark green Dodge truck or hear his voice sing on your playlist. When you see a chocolate orange at the drug store or pass a package of zebra cakes in the grocery store line. When you slip on your moccasins, read his favorite verse, hear the praise song “Come ye Sinners,” or witness a sunset. You smile.
You cry. When the hard memories arise. Those times you regret. The words spoken in anger; the way you tore him down just to make yourself look better. When you let his adorable quirkiness embarrass you or his passion for people stir jealousy within you. The times you condemned him in your heart, like David’s wife, during unrefined worship. When you walk through a hospital, smell the all too familiar smells, or hear the beeping from an IV pole. When you see a scar on another’s head or hear the words chemotherapy, brain surgery, or white blood counts. When someone quizzically and innocently asks of your 6 year old son, “where in the world does he get his blonde hair?” When you just want to pick up the phone and call your dad, just to hear his voice, or run into his arms when the pain gets to be too much. When you see others hurting, devastated by losses of their own. You cry.
You laugh. When you walk past a frisbee golf course. When you think of the way he wouldn’t kiss a dolphin on your honeymoon or how he rolled down a hill in college (on purpose) after drinking a gallon of milk. When you come across a picture of him dancing at prom. When you see your son flying off the porch of your house for no apparent reason and then remember someone else jumping off the porch of a three story dormitory…for no apparent reason. When you notice that you are “killing” pancakes with the spatula after you flip them (to make sure their done, of course) just like your dad did. You laugh.
You weep. When you realize your son will never know his “Daddy Michael” or your kids their “Papa John” this side of heaven. When you are overcome by the gravity of the loss you have experienced. When you see his parents longing for their son. When you see your mom longing for her husband; her soulmate. When you miss the life you once lived and the people you once loved. When you wrestle with the affects of those losses and battle the emotions that come in all sorts of waves; threatening to suffocate you at any moment. When you want to live fully in the present so desperately, but feel like you're constantly fighting to stay out of the deep, dark, painful pit of the past. When you are overcome by the gratitude of Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross. When you realize that without Christ, we are lost forever, doomed for destruction. When you realize that people you love don’t know Him personally and that they will never know the joys that salvation in Him can bring. You weep.
For “what cannot be said, shall be wept.”
And yet, in the pain.
In the aches.
Because of Christ,
we continue to live.
He is our joy. He is our hope. He is our provider. He is our comfort.
We stand, because He is strong.
We sing, because He sings over us.
We love, because He first loved us.
We may never be “over the ones we’ve lost,”
but praise God,
because He lives…
so can we.
“Occasionally, weep deeply over the life you hoped would be. Grieve the losses. Then wash your face. Trust God. And embrace the life you have.” -John Piper
And the life I have is good.
Oh, so very good.
“…when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”