Last night I took a box of Kleenex to bed with me. If I hadn’t, the pillow would have been soaked. This wave of grief wasn’t a tsunami, but it wasn’t a small ripple, either. It was simply a forceful longing to be with Nate. As I lay on my back holding a tissue at the side of each eye to catch the streams, I thought about how bad I was going to look in the morning, crying that hard before going to sleep. In reality, grieving isn’t pretty no matter when it comes.
If someone had sat down on the side of my bed last night and asked, “Why are you crying tonight, when this morning you were fine?” I wouldn’t have had an answer. All I knew then was that I missed Nate intensely. During the night a second wave came, and in the morning, a third. Then I cried while doing dishes, while talking to neighbors, while checking out at Walmart, while conversing with our girls.
Tonight, finally, my wavy day ended, because God said, “This far and no farther.” Whew.
Grieving for Nate looks a little different in each of us. I think some of our children are angry, others are depressed, one is trying to think away from it altogether. Yesterday I studied photographs taken over the two days of Nate’s wake and funeral. I looked carefully at my children where they appeared in the pictures, particularly if they were in the background. What I saw was heaviness, sorrow, pain.
I have moments, even hours of sadness, which is OK. But when I watch our children go through this same agony, my heart breaks. Mary always tells her children, “Remember, I’m the only one who would jump in front of a truck for you.” If I could get between my kids and the truck load of grief each is carrying, I would. But that might be like helping the chicken crack out of its egg, doing more harm than good.
Louisa, Birgitta and I were chatting tonight about the tough times in life and how we try hard to get through, around or over them a.s.a.p. Only a fool would say, “I’m really enjoying this misery and hope it never ends.”
But impatience seems to overwhelm endurance, and we become irritated when there’s no visible value in a situation. The girls and I looked back at several family stress points, hunting for the proverbial good-coming-from-bad. We successfully saw some of that, which builds hope into us that today’s difficulties will yield tomorrow’s good.
This morphed into a dialogue on how to see God’s activity in the world and, more importantly, how to hear from him personally. The answer to that one is complicated, and we talked about it for quite a while.
Jesus told his closest friends he understood it was difficult for them to believe he’d actually risen from the dead. When they finally got it, he said, “You have the advantage of standing here looking at me, listening to my voice, touching me. What about after I’m gone? It’ll be much harder for them. I’ve reserved special blessing for those who believe in me.”
The girls and I agreed he was talking about us.
So, if we’re willing to take God at his word, to believe he’ll lead us, answer our prayers and help us with decisions, he’s going to give us extra perks of some sort. Being singled out for God’s special treatment is a privileged place to be.
Tonight when I put my head on the pillow, instead of being grateful for a box of Kleenex, my gratitude will be for honest conversation with two hurting daughters. They’re looking for God in new ways as a result of their Papa’s death, which amounts to something good already coming from something bad. Tonight, the Lord gave us a peek at some of those special perks he promised.
”Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)