Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Good Grief

I'm not normally one to observe the anniversary of the death of a loved one. My mom died before I was old enough to remember her and yet I never liked the weird attention I would get on Mother's Day as a little girl with no mother, so I didn't especially like to bring up the random day of the year that marked her passing, either. I have friends who have lost loved ones who mark the day every year and wear it on their sleeve, and I always felt like that was a hard-to-navigate thing as a friend. What do I do? What do I say? What do they need? Even though I've lost more lovely, safe people than a young person should, I never really got it.

This year the anniversary of my dad's death came and went and though I still didn't want the weird attention and I didn't want to mark it, it still haunted me and I still couldn't help but sob into my cereal that morning. Because it turns out that even though this kind of anniversary is not the same thing as a birthday or wedding anniversary or anything else to be celebrated and shared, it is something that cannot be forgotten. It's like the way we paradoxically remember the death of our Savior with Good Friday; this is my Good Grief.

Since my dad died I am different. At least I feel feel different, and long after I've stopped accidentally crying in public. I don't know if it's that I cannot imagine a world without him in it, or that I can't imagine how I'll make it without him quietly lifting me up in the shadows or if it's just because of how his dying wounded me. I also don't know why I am saying all of this now. I definitely don't want all of the weird attention, but maybe it's not so much in what my friends say or do but rather in the knowledge that they understand. And the hope that they'll get to know the new, changed me and still love me, even though I coincidentally get cranky on the days I feel sad.

My friends have mostly known me as someone "with an eternal perspective," they would say. And they were right. I really could see the forest through the trees in most situations and it was my lifeline on many days. However, when Dad died I seemed to have misplaced that. It was so hard for me to really grasp the "better place" idea and the only time I would sense it was when I was painfully standing on Jordan's Stormy Banks. Or on my knees, rather, face in the sand.
When shall I reach that happy place, 
And be forever blessed? 
When shall I see my Father's face, 
And in his bosom rest?
A couple nights ago I had a dream that Dad was alive again but it was not like I though it would be. Because although I could see the life in his face and ask him things and tell him things, he was only alive to die again. There is no hope in wishing him back here because here is where there is ugly-crying, dying and death. He has made the painful journey to the Better Place, that I know for sure. And though it is a slow, arduous process, it is for me to stop wishing him back here and to persevere in wishing myself there.
"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country-- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." -Hebrews 11:13-16
My heart is a refugee. Amen.