There is that story you’ve probably heard — the one about the man in his house, and a flood came. The man called out to God “Save me!”
Sirens in the distance drawing nearer: “Sir! This is the fire department! We’re throwing you a line! Grab it!”
But the man says “No! I’m waiting for God to save me!”
A boat comes, then a helicopter with a ladder dangling down, and still the man turns them all away, saying “God will save me!” And the man dies and goes to Heaven and he says “God! Why didn’t you save me?” and we all know what God says back….
I am conscious of that story as I move through the days, so angry and disappointed in God because, as I keep telling myself now (after saying for weeks this was not God’s plan), HE let Mark die and yet offers me nothing now, as I frantically search for signs that he is OK, that my son is safe and at peace. Other people are reporting dreams about my boy, white feathers left on their doorsteps, spectacular rainbows, blue skies — and I wonder, “What about me? The mom?!” You would think that a lifelong church-goer, a Christian would be more at rest in the idea of heaven and perfect peace, but that was not enough. I had to KNOW.
I kept trying to think of a sign God could give me – other than my son showing up in full body, like Jesus after the resurrection – and I felt like I was clutching at straws. “Not white feathers. How about…blue jay feathers? Three blue jay feathers together, where I can’t miss them.” But that just felt so…false. That wasn’t our relationship. Words were often how we played with one another in our household…and Mark particularly enjoyed that interplay from the time he could speak. He and Sarah loved it when I would make up silly substitute words for everyday things; we all loved making each other laugh in those goofy, quirky ways. Work with THAT, God.
One day I went to the gym – trying to be normal, to do one of the things I used to do – and thought, “I really really need a hug from Jeff.” Jeff is my spin instructor and he’s often a little cranky. I didn’t think he actually liked me at all, so it was weird to think a hug from him would even be offered, much less make me feel better. After 30-40 minutes, I left the gym, abandoning my work-out (grief makes you weak…like you’ve been sick for a long time) and there was no Jeff. Oh well.
As I walked out to my car, I realized I had to pee, so I turned around and went back inside. When I came out of the bathroom, Jeff was standing just up the hall, between me and the exit. He – the burly, cranky one – looked at me with great tenderness and mouthed, “Are you ok?” And I said, “No.” And he opened his arms and we hugged for a very long time. As I shook with grief and the power of tears I could not let out completely, he said only this: “Oh. So much sorrow.”
As October draws to a close, I find bitterness, doubt growing. I begin to be dismissive of “coincidences” like the hug from Jeff. I fear I am becoming a tyrant: I don’t want “little stuff.” I don’t want parlor tricks. God, I know you: you could do SO MUCH MORE. I want to know, really know my boy is safe. I wasn’t done; you didn’t let me finish my job.
You never gave us the chance to say good-bye.