This morning, as I sat in the shade of a bald cypress tree at a park not far from our house, I picked up my phone and did what I frequently do – opened Facebook and began browsing through the mornings’ posts. Thanks to Facebook, I get an almost daily reminder of my loss; not that I wouldn’t remember if Facebook didn’t send me a reminder – I think of it almost 24/7. But the first thing to come up, when I clicked on my “memories” post this morning, was a picture of my son in the hospital getting ready to go into surgery to have his broken ankle repaired, three years ago today. I remember that morning well. I drove to his brother’s house forty-five minutes away, picked him up and drove him thirty-five minutes back toward our home to the hospital where he would have the surgery that morning. The picture of him that popped up on Facebook was one I took just before the nurses came into his room to wheel him into the operating room. He was looking right at me with that smirky “you can’t make me smile” half-grin on his face, with his bruised arm raised up beside his head. Now that I think about it, I think he was probably showing off that impressive bruise.
I miss him.
Those three words don’t even begin to touch the depth of the missing. I wish I had better words to describe this. Even if I did, though, I probably wouldn’t use them. This is too fresh, too raw, too personal to really try to describe it. I sat and stared at that picture of him for several minutes this morning. I remember the feel of his face, rough with whiskers; the redness underneath his eyebrows he always got when he was stressed, tired or embarrassed; that look that pierces me to my core when any of my children look at me like that – that look of “I know I’m growing up, but I wish I could be a little kid again”. I had this overwhelming desire to squeeze those cheeks just enough to make him blush; just enough to cause him to pull away and give me that embarrassed “really, mom?” look.
I miss him.
After staring at my son’s picture for those few painful minutes, I visited with a dear friend over coffee at this park near my home. We shared stories of life’s many ups and downs and all the mundane in between. I mused on our conversation as I drove home later, thinking about how life used to be more colorful to me. I’m a little bit of a creative person at heart; I like to decorate my home with each passing season, I enjoy cross-stitching, writing, drawing, sewing, baking and cooking, and other creative activities; and I enjoy sharing the fruit of these activities with others. All these, to me, add color to what is otherwise a dull, gray world. My world has been very dull gray since my son’s passing. In fact, for the first year after his passing, I don’t remember much more than my children’s and husband’s sorrowful faces, the floor I was usually staring at, and the dull, colorless world around me. But lately I sense some interest in creating things returning to me. I see more color in my world, and I again have a desire to contribute to “coloring up” the world for others.
I read a line in a book today that struck me and made me remember some of the things I enjoyed doing before a broken heart side-lined me. It made me want to try to not just drag myself through another day, but to pursue some of the things that brought me joy before his passing. The line was in a book I’m reading about brokenness. There is a little girl in the story whose mother is dying of cancer. A wise, older woman, who is helping the mother with her little girl while she is being treated with chemo, set crayons out for the girl to color with, to help her keep her mind off of her mother’s illness. But the girl complained to her aged sitter that some of the crayons were broken. The elderly woman turned to the little girl and said, “But that’s the magic of crayons. Even the broken ones will still color.”
Even the broken ones will still color.
This reminds me of the title of a book I heard of several years ago: God Uses Cracked Pots. I am a cracked pot, a broken crayon. I probably always have been, but I’ve been acutely aware of this fact since my son passed away. I have a broken heart, and I don’t feel like a normal person. In fact, I feel like I may never be a normal person again. I’m broken and cracked. But God can still color with a broken crayon; He still uses cracked pots.
It’s not the perfection of the crayon that brings color to the world. Rather, it’s what the artist wielding the crayon does with it that brings color to the world.
As a broken and cracked human being, dare I allow the Great Artist to wield me and use me to bring color to my world, and maybe even another’s world, again?
That is the question I am pondering today.