What I’ve learned, or learned again, or am trying to learn:
(1) Love and community is all that matters, AND (not “but”) it’s also important to know yourself. Being with people I love and who love me, Steve and Sarah…and who love Mark (and don’t mind talking about him a lot) is super important…but right now I can only handle people in short, small doses. I know this is causing my family, in particular, great pain. God, I wish they could fix this, too. Whether introvert or ambivert, my inclination, when I am hurt, is to draw inward, like a turtle retreating into its shell. I don’t know how to do it any other way. I can’t force myself to be something I am not.
(2) Death is a constant, once your eyes are opened. I’ve been to 4 funerals since Mark died. I would not miss them for anything.
(3) I am still trying to figure out HOW God consoles us. How does He go about repairing our hearts? “God is near to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18) — that’s a great verse, but HOW does God draw near? How can we feel His presence or hear His voice, especially in the midst of our agony…the pain that fills out hearts and minds like endless static? The love and prayers of so many have been powerful; the notes left on our door, the cards, the texts and Facebook messages continue to buoy us. I don’t mean to be ungrateful…I’m really really not ungrateful. It’s just….what does that mean, that “God is near” thing? Am I foolish to think that God would be actively caring for us introverts, a subset of “those who mourn,” in any other fashion than through people, who kind of overwhelm us right at this moment? (Like… what about the deer? what about the other really amazing things I’ve experienced? When I talk about coins and dreams, I see some peoples’ internal shutters drawing closed). Nonetheless: I’ve resolved to try and release my death grip on what I want, to try and see God working, rather than trying to tell Him what to do.
(4) Exercise is crucial to this healing process, to “grief recovery” (ugh…like you could ever really recover). Steve’s doctor told him he wanted Steve “sweating at least 30 minutes every day.” We aren’t quite up to every day, but are grateful for when we do; grateful for a friend who invites Steve to play racquetball with him. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: getting a workout is Good. Endorphins are good, as is getting outside – air, sun, breathe! – if at all possible.
(5) I’m not ready, really, to feel peace, as badly as I hate being in this place…this dark, dark place. This was an aha moment just recently…that I did not have to push myself to “get better.” Mark’s death is an outrage. It’s a freaking, howling tragedy. An abomination. This pain we feel, this deep, deep agony that makes life hurt so badly – it’s the mirror image of the abiding love we have for him, for our Mark. We won’t stay in this place, but we must live in it until we know it’s time to walk forward.