My heart has been heavy for those left to bury their loved ones at this time. If you’re in that number, I can’t shake the insurmountable inconvenience this pandemic poses on you. Final arrangements being curated over the phone. Creating streaming capabilities for such a personal moment. Sitting six feet apart from each other during the eulogy. The inability to console your family with the warmth of your arms. And for the ministers, funeral directors, morticians, and cemetery workers… I can’t imagine the stress and emotional boundaries you must maintain right now.
It’s horrible and I’m sorry.
While we walk in the faith of healing and restoration, sometimes the steps we take do not reach that happy ending. It’s difficult to experience and I don’t have the answer as to why it happens, so I won’t offend you by presenting a false rationale or a super churchy response. As much as it hurts, the truth is our loved ones die when we thought they would come home from work. When we didn’t know they were sick. The day before their birthdays. When we thought they would see the end of this pandemic. The timing is never perfect for us. Never.
Place this gravitas in the middle of a worldwide initiative to minimize touch and you have a recipe for grief to yell loudly or muffle the mouth of the sufferer. A wall of emotions hovers at this physical impasse. And while I could give you a plethora of Bible verses to soothe your pain, all I want to do is stand next to you and hold your hand as your loved one is lowered into the ground. I want to have tissue on-hand as we sit together. I wish I could hug you. Yes, all of you. Whether they pass away from COVID-19 or not, it’s just a crummy time to not be close.
So, I had to write this post to say I’m sorry you’re going through this and I’m praying for you. Every day. You are not alone and I love you.
It’s been two weeks since I’ve blogged because my reservoir of words was empty. Now, I can connect again, so here goes. As always, I hope my transparency can help you as it is helping me heal and grieve.
Peace & Thanks for listening in advance.
I’ve only had two boyfriends in my life and the second gentleman became my husband. That should tell you how stringent I am when it comes to making decisions. My forever made it a point to let me know that he was intentional about me and what can I say? He passed my tests and I said yes.
So, when the best friend of my former husband called on Father’s Day and said “It’s not looking good and…,” my answer was the same. I knew I had to be there. No matter what. I immediately adjusted my route and was at the hospital in about 25 minutes. It was the least I could do. The least I could be for the man I vowed to love forever, regardless of what those papers said.
We had a beautiful beginning, a sweet middle, an amicable denouement, and a beautiful friendship all over again. It’s not what normally happens, I know, but it was us.
Was everything perfect? Of course not, but we had a love and respect for each other that wouldn’t disintegrate. And I appreciate that part of God’s plan. The fragments of questions that float around in my mind, I will never understand and I try to not to marinate on too much. It was devastating to say the least, watching him fight and knowing he was going to let go. As I walked into his hospital room, my heart began to throb in pain. I felt like someone had loosely stitched it together in light of my father’s passing less than a year ago, but the inner part of me was about to make it burst. We had gone through this before, he and I… the undulation of health. Like a Pavlovian subject, I switched into “wife mode” – talk to God, talk to him, touch him gently, kiss his face, rub his head, listen to the nurses, watch the monitors, ask questions, remember names the medical team, notate medicines given, nap during sponge bath, keep up with anything he needs to know when he wakes up… Something was different this time. Every beep echoed sadness in the hallways of my soul and the tears just wouldn’t stop stampeded down my face.
Being a Christian, of course I was hoping for a miracle of any kind, but I could feel that prayer request being removed from my fingers every time the medical team told me differently. I took a picture of me holding his hand so I could show him when he woke up. We were supposed to have lunch that week and I thought it would be a great topic of discussion. A part of me wanted to ask him over shrimp and grits to describe what he saw, felt, and heard as he lay in that bed. Did he hear us? Could he see angels? Was he talking to God Himself? Silly, I know, but I wanted to chat all about it as we laughed about another school year down in the books. Singing and praying and crying and meditating, I held his hand along with Mark and his wife. The lower the blood pressure, the less strength in those stitches that held my heart together. At the last beep, they couldn’t hold any longer and my heart bled mercilessly.
Needless to say, I’m letting myself feel everything now and staying soaked in prayer along the way. I couldn’t start grieving for my father until months after he passed away and this time, I am allowing myself to just be. If tears fall at school, so be it. Just the other night, I screamed and cried out in anguish on my way home from work. The outpour of support has been amazing, but some fail to realize my spirit has an open wound that resembles more of a widow than an ex-wife. And that’s OK. It had only been a little over a year since we divorced and we weren’t bitter. We weren’t angry. We were simply us and I now understand what he was trying to do. I hate the pain, but I get it. Before, during, and after our marriage, the most important title was Friend. Such a rarity it is to come full circle with someone. I couldn’t have asked for a greater honor in this life.
It was a pleasure to love you, Shawn, and that love extends beyond the grave. My heart cries into the heavens as you enjoy your new home, but I’m so happy for your relief. The world may have lost your beautiful mind, body, and spirit, but your legacy will live in us all. Always and forever grateful.
I share this not as a lament, but to encourage anyone who is grieving a loved one anywhere in your soul. Be present. Be human. Be tender. It doesn’t mean you’re not a “good Christian” (whatever that means anyway) and that you just need to “get over it” (insert same sentiment here). Jesus cried too and He understood what it meant to grieve the inevitable. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Yes, joy comes in the morning, but there is a new morning everyday, so it’s OK if you have to get a refill on that joy more than once. He has plenty and will never run dry. That’s what I’m leaning on right now.
I love you and I’m praying for you. Keep me in prayer too, please. In the words of my mother, God’s got a whole world out here, so let’s make the best use of our time while we’re here, OK?
A visual I saw on Sunday, May 7th: A man is walking on a deserted small town street. He’s dressed up for church – suit, shoes, trench coat, and hat – but, there were holes in his chest. Perfect round holes with the circumference of an aluminum can. It was a windy day and his posture slanted forward as he pressed into the force. As the wind whipped around and through him, green bacteria grew in the holes. He kept walking, but his pace grew slower. Then I saw the same man, in the same scenario, only this time the holes didn’t exist and the bacteria bounced off his chest as he walked into the wind.
What I Heard:
God wants to clean the holes in our heart left by others and fill it with his Love and Light. You were not designed to walk around with holes in your soul. You were not created with a deficit in mind.
The truth is that we have a lot of holy folks with holes in their hearts. They’ve learned to breathe around them, look pretty around them, and even preach around them. Those holes are lined with bacteria of hate, prejudice, lies, and unforgiveness. And some bacteria is good for you, even the bad ones, for they help build your spiritual immune system. But imbalance and infestation is what causes death of the soul.
I am not exempt. I have had many moments where I didn’t want to love someone, didn’t want to extend myself, didn’t want to be kind, and definitely didn’t want to forgive. But I realized a funny truth about this badge called “Christian” that I wear. I don’t have a choice in representing His character. I have a choice to trust, but I don’t have a choice to forgive. Once I said “You are Lord of my life. Take me as your own. I’ll do what you say. I want to love people like you love. I want to be like you.” I relinquished my duty as a free agent of this world. I now have a duty to show Christ in everything I do. I’m an ambassador, and I don’t choose when and where to take off that title. So, when He says “Call her/him,” I do it. It doesn’t matter if I was wronged or if I know they have spoken ill of me… when He commands it, I do it. It’s frustrating, yes. It’s unfair; yes it is. It’s aggravating; indeed. But, I don’t always get it right either, so I only hope that I receive the same diehard response when it’s my turn. I don’t want the bacteria to stick. I want the Love of God to repel it.
We can’t continue to walk around in garments of gold pretending like we aren’t rotting wood underneath. We’re holy by His grace, not by our standards. We can’t give place for the Body to be infected. After all, infections spread fast, but they don’t have to. We don’t have to die holey.
I’ve been on this Body kick lately. I’m interested to hear everything God has to say.
Peace & Thanks for listening.
Photo courtesy of Human Anatomy Chart. They have awesome images for biology nerds like me. Check them out.