January 8, 2013
My heart is heavy tonight, as it seems is often the case these days.
Today I took my two sons to the funeral of their grandmother. Michael’s mother passed away over the Christmas holiday and today we said good-bye. She had been suffering for the past 2 years from ALS, a truly horrible disease. There is some amount of comfort knowing that she is no longer suffering as she once was. And yet, death is always so, so sad. It isn’t how things are meant to be.
It seems that I only write these days when I am sad. It’s just that life is so busy with the details of keeping babies alive, the house clean, food cooked, and work completed. I can go days without thinking of anything more meaningful than when Judah last ate or if Jeremiah has been changed into proper clothes instead of wearing his pajamas all day. And when I do have a few quiet moments to think, I find myself dwelling on the difficult parts of life– wishing them away, wishing for peace and ease and all those blissful years when I was unaware of how broken this world really was.
I have a clear memory of sitting in a Bible study back in 2007– it was a Beth Moore study on “Fruits of the Spirit” put on by a local church. It was one of those studies where you got a workbook and there were five mini-lessons that you were to go through each week. You were supposed to do one every day, but I always found myself doing all five the night before the meeting. We would sit at the same tables and watch Beth on the video screen then talk about what we had written in our workbooks that week. I remember our table-leader, Hannah, saying something that has played through my mind frequently these last five years. She said that right now, this moment in life, was probably the best it was ever going to get. There we were, girls in our mid-20’s, experiencing a pretty normal life path. Many of us were married or dating, we had jobs/careers to look forward to, children, houses, and hobbies to dream about. None of us had experienced real loss. I remember her saying that she knew there was a day coming where her parents would die. Friends would disappoint her. Her health would fail. And it hit me– this world is not my home. This existence that I’ve carved out for myself where I’m comfortable and happy– it isn’t going to last.
I suppose there’s always been a fair dose of pessimism that colors my outlook on life. I always seem to notice the holes in a plan and find it easy to play “devil’s advocate.” Maybe that’s why Hannah’s comment stuck with me so clearly over the years. It definitely felt like one of those life-defining moments– a sobering, water-in-your-face kind of moment that wakes you up from the dream that has become normal life.There’s no going back. Dumbledore has died, Aslan has been slain, evil exists and bad things happen. Good will triumph in the end, and all the sad things will indeed come un-true, but in the meantime pain and death seem to reign.
I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here. I guess I’m just feeling stripped bare, not sure that I can take much more. So much seems to have been taken away this past year, and truth be told, I am just hoping for spring to come soon, with its promise of new beginnings. And maybe that’s the key– Lewis talks about the seasons and how perfectly they capture our need for rhythm. It feels like it’s been a year of winter but never Christmas… but perhaps that is getting ready to change and the rivers of ice will melt, grass will grow again, and the warmth of the sun will be felt deeply– all the way to my bones.