A request from me, personally: please stop telling me I’m “amazing,” or “a model of faith.” (And for the religious folk: please stop saying any variation of “aren’t you glad Mark is in heaven with Jesus?” Don’t you know I would climb up there and yank him back down here if I could?) Stop saying I’m “so strong.” I can’t tell you how uncomfortable that makes me, because I don’t FEEL strong. And when you say I am, I feel like you don’t really SEE me. So, please don’t say that to anyone who has experienced the death of a child. Instead… maybe just offer a warm hug…tell the griever how much you care, how much you loved their child (say his name, say her name) and then listen, at least for a few moments, to what they tell you.
I’m not strong. I’m just like you, a normal person, but one dealing with a monstrous, life-shattering loss. I’m just doing what I have to do to survive this, I’m just being the me I am, which means looking pretty held-together on the outside while I am actually in about a thousand pieces. I’ll tell you concealer is a well-loved – but ultimately a fairly ineffective – BFF as I try to cover up the effects of weeks of crying.
If you say you admire me, I’ll tell you – if you’ll listen – that I’m a very good actress (and honestly…I’ve never been one to cry much in public), that I do most of my crying alone, in my basement sanctuary, and that getting out of the house for walks, or to work, or church, or to visit the gym, or do whatever else I have to do — those things save me, they keep me from falling into an endless downward spiral (but that spiral, that black hole, still pulls. It’s always there…and I wonder all the time if I should just let go of my fierce grip on the edge of it all…and let myself fall into the blackness. Would I survive? Am I supposed to let go? Grief doesn’t seem to come with an instruction book).
Even removing the impact of Mark’s death – I’ll tell you that most of the time I don’t have a clue, and although I can more readily recognize my strengths now, at the age of 52, I often feel like I’m failing at one thing or another. That I’ve felt uncertain, weak and pretty ineffective at the hard stuff – like being a great parent (vs. a pretty good parent), or being a truly good friend – most of my life. I’ve prayed for wisdom and discernment and sometimes it’s there, I guess, but sometimes it’s really, really not. The one good thing about aging is I am more inclined to forgive myself.
But there lies one of my greatest frustrations with God – where have You been all my life? You KNOW what I’m talking about: those specific times when I was absolutely on my knees or flat on my face; when I begged for your help, pleaded for your intervention in my life (please give me a spine! some strength!) or in another person’s life? In other words: not just when our precious son’s life blood was slowly, inexorably leaking out of his liver instead of going back to his heart. Oh God, how do I reconcile the hundreds and hundreds of prayers I KNOW YOU HEARD, with the end result? How can I trust you when your mercy seems so…so random?
Steve and I watched a DVD the other night where people recounted their miraculous healings [cue angelic music, soft lighting, pastel hues] and we were both a little pissed off by the end, TBH.
Today’s verses include this one:
I pray that out of his glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…and you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
In my basement time today, I was thinking how hard it is to be a parent, or to be someone’s caregiver, to hold the line and establish boundaries with someone’s “ultimate good” in mind, when that person is in TOTAL disagreement with what you’re trying to do (like taking away the car you shouldn’t be driving right now). Why do we humans so often do the thing we shouldn’t?
One of the biggest issues we had with Mark was his incessant desire to game (video games, computer games) — when left to his own devices (ha – look at me, I made a pun), he played for hours and hours and we did not think it was healthy nor did it, like most obsessions/addictions, seem to serve his ultimate good. He disagreed. (Note to self: I may have to write more about this later…such a difficult subject for us parents of boys/young men today).
And although I am pissed off, and I am disappointed, and I DO NOT UNDERSTAND, I have to admit that God – who has many names, one of them “Father” (Jesus even called him Abba, which means Daddy, essentially) – probably wants to flick me upside the head and say “TELL ME ABOUT IT, oh Human. I always have your greatest good in mind…but you don’t trust me enough either.”