On September 22nd it will be three years since my son, James, died. I remember reading the following passage to him that night:
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more, 2and I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, descending from heaven from God, prepared as a bride decked out for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s tent is with humanity, and he will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them, their God, 4and he will wipe away each tear from their eyes, and death will no longer exist, nor mourning nor crying, nor will there be pain any more, because the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4
There is a hole in my life. I can identify the hole. It has a name. What is left around it? What survived the blast that tore the hole in my fabric of my life?
In my case, it seemed like what was immediately around the hole in my life when my son, James, died was my two surviving children. I admit now that it was very hard for me not to cling to Janet and John. They are married and have families and careers. They live hundreds of miles away. I picked up the phone and put it down many times in that first year. I battled with reaching out to them and knowing that we were truly available to each other and yet knowing that they had their own grief path to walk.
I also had a husband who loved James and also had a path of grief to walk and yet wanted to help me. This is one of those moments in marriage where men and women may find it most difficult to communicate their needs and then communicate what will be most helpful in meeting the needs. Leaning on each other implies that both parties are exerting the same pressure from the two sides to balance their individual ‘poles’ so that they will remain standing. The reality is that one person will be more needy than the other and so the other must realize that and pick them up. Communication is so important and requires Person A to verbalize their needs and then Person B to verbally repeat the need back. Person B must then prayerfully consider the answer to the need, putting aside their own answer of what would help them and consider only Person A. This sounds very elementary but during emotional times simple and basic is vital.
What is left in my life is what has always been there – me – and God. Since before I was formed, God and I were together. (Psalm 139) If I had to pick one specific good thing that has come into my life since I was divorced, my parents died, and then James died – I would have to say without a doubt – my relationship with God has grown. I could say that I am 100% “better” in my relationship with God but there really isn’t any number that I can attach to where I was and where I am. And I have so much farther to go. It is through the fire of grief that the “stuff” in my life that held me back has been burned away until I have found what is really true. Little things that were so important in my life like a prestigious job and recognition from my boss and my peers – isn’t so important. A big house and all the “stuff” that goes into it – is just clutter in my world now. It is living in the “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7) no matter what the day brings – is better than gold! That peace (for me) came through the many wrestling matches that I had with God and the gallons of tears that I cried in His lap until I came to whatever answers I have for now. I say “for now” because I haven’t gotten all the answers and some of the answers I have are not definable answers but just acceptance that God sees a bigger picture than I can see right now. There will be some more days of “wrestling” down the road. While daily I am reminded of just how ‘much’ I have, I am incomplete and so I want “more”. That has me looking ahead to the future.