I realized this evening that I weigh a little less than I did a year and a half ago. I’m not speaking of my physical self, but emotionally. I realized this as I was waiting to get my hair cut at Great Clips (they aren’t, but I go there sometimes anyway). They had a TV on to keep the waiting customers entertained, and as I sat, blindly staring in its general direction, I suddenly “woke up” when I saw Finding Nemo on the tube. I love that movie. But tonight, instead of watching the movie, I was instantly transported back several months and remembered the many times I told myself to “just keep swimming” over and over, just to get through the day. As I watched the little clown fish swimming around with his dad and his newly acquired friends, and remembered quoting his friend, Dory, many times to myself, I mentally explored my emotional “weight” and cautiously, optimistically concluded that I am a little lighter than I was when I had to tell myself that cute little phrase everyday. In fact, I don’t think I’ve said that to myself for several weeks. It was a pleasant surprise to come to this conclusion. Even as I write this, though, I know there will be days when I have to tell myself that again. My hubby and I have stopped telling each other we are getting better, because invariably the next day one of us has what we call a “crying day”. So, we just smile and say, “today was a good day” when it is. And we don’t make any declarations that are weighted with expectations of the days to come, anymore. A good day is just that – a good day. The next day may not be so good, but who cares? We will enjoy the good days, no matter how few and far between they are. We are learning, through this grieving the loss of our son, to live in the moment, breathe in the moment; don’t waste the hard days wishing for better ones, and don’t waste the good days anticipating what will inevitably come – more hard days.
I was recently in a prayer meeting specially called for a leader in the church who has been diagnosed with cancer. During this meeting, several people were nudged by the Holy Spirit to read Psalm 103. This is one of my favorite psalms, and I can quote a few stanzas of it by heart, as I have meditated on it so many times trying to help myself overcome constant self-condemnation, and to help myself believe that God truly does love me. It is a beautiful psalm, full of life-giving truths. But, like all spiritual truths we try to assimilate into our human lives, we grasp different parts of it in different ways based on the varying circumstances in our lives at the time. My walk with the Lord has been a struggle since my son passed away. It is different, like almost everything else in my life, than it was before he died. One of the things I have struggled with makes no logical sense at all, but nevertheless it has been a constant struggle, until the night of this prayer meeting. As I sat silently reading my favorite psalm, skimming it more than actually reading it, verse 10 leapt off the page at me, and I began to weep, I was so touched by the fresh “revelation” of it, and the precious gift of reassurance from the Lord of its truth. My struggle has been that because I am his mom, I should have been able to prevent his car accident. This is completely nonsensical, as he was a 25 year old man, living in his own apartment 45 minutes away from us, making his way to work in the early morning hours, just like he did everyday of the work week. I had never been in his car while he was driving to his workplace before, so it makes no sense that I would think I could have been in his car with him, much less that I should have been, and certainly not that I could’ve or should’ve prevented his accident. But I did think that. In fact, I believed it was my fault, somehow, that it had happened. And, I felt guilty for not being in his car with him telling him to not do whatever it was he did that led to his accident and resultant death. Ridiculous, I know. But that is how I have felt until that evening and the fresh revelation of Ps. 103:10. “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” I didn’t do anything – past, present or future – that would’ve caused the Lord to allow my son to die for, because He doesn’t repay me according to my sins. The idea that God would allow something to happen because of something I did forty years ago, like my crazy imagination has been telling me for the past 20 months, wasn’t even in my belief system (that I was aware of) until 20 months ago. Now, my thinking is a little closer to “normal” regarding how God deals with me and what He allows to happen in my life.
This goes hand in hand with feeling like a complete failure as a parent. I can logically look at my children and surmise that I was not a complete failure, but I have felt like it for most of the past 20 months. I’ve realized, as I write this tonight, that I haven’t felt like a complete failure for a few weeks – maybe since the re-revelation of Ps. 103:10. Maybe because enough time has passed that my psyche is beginning to heal. I don’t know what is the cause for the reprieve of the constant onslaught of condemning thoughts, but I am very thankful for it.
I’ve recently recognized another sign of some healing taking place. The early Monday morning our son died was a rainy morning; though by the time the sheriff’s deputies came to our door to tell us he hadn’t survived a car accident, it was beautiful and sunshiney. But it rained and rained, almost every single day, between his death and his funeral. I used to love cloudy, rainy mornings, sitting in my office with my hot coffee and my Bible or my friends on Facebook, listening to the soft pitter-pattering of the rain on the leaves of the pin oaks in our yard, and the rumbling of thunder in the distance. But since that one horrific week 20 months ago, I’ve cried almost every time it is a cloudy or rainy day, usually not even realizing why until one of my daughters reminds me of why. They are so precious to me, so in tune to my feelings; sometimes knowing me better than I know myself. A few days ago, though, I sat in my office with the window open, despite the fact that it was hot and muggy, listening to the rain fall and the thunder roll, sipping my coffee and pensively looking out the window, when it occurred to me that I was not crying or even feeling like crying. In fact, I was enjoying the rain. It’s just rain, after all; sweet rain falling from heaven, watering the earth, just like our faithful heavenly Father promised.
As I’m writing this morning, I recall the morning of our son’s funeral; it rained so hard on the way to the gravesite. I remember thinking that heaven was crying with us, reminding us that they – our triune God and that great cloud of witnesses – sees us and knows our pain.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who hope in the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:28-31