A month has now passed since Bev stepped over the threshold of time. “How are you?” loving friends ask me. There is no simple answer. Sorrow greets me anew each morning. Memories ambush me constantly; a smell, a sound, a little object, an email … and tears come. But, there are ‘normal’ days, too. I am enjoying the company of friends, sleeping well, and keeping up my day to day responsibilities.
Prayer is still difficult, often nothing more than murmured Psalms or simple one-line child-like petitions on behalf of others. My heart is a stormy thing with emotions refusing to observe boundaries that make them manageable. I find myself fussing over details, inordinately concerned with keeping things arranged. Anger is always simmering, too. I grow quickly irritated, am more easily frustrated than usual. Yes, I am grieving.
Some people, especially those who do not know me well, are obviously ill at ease, uncertain about what to say or how to treat me. They say nice things and sometimes offer hugs, but I know they are struggling. I just want to say, “Relax, I’m struggling, too. Half of me died a few days ago! I have no idea what normal is anymore either.” A few try too hard and say things that I would rather not hear again. “Well, at least she is not suffering.” True. Or, “She’s at peace.” Again, true, but I’m not! What I really need is empathy, people to just understand and say, “I know it’s hard. I care.”
This kind of loss shines a bright light on life. There is a kind of clarity of mind and heart that is almost too much to bear.
Let me share a couple of things I know better now.
I feel the brevity of life. I do not want to waste a day in foolish things. The idea of ‘killing time’ makes me angry now. Solomon says, “Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.” … Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well. For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.” … “That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 6-7, 13-14, NLT)
I enjoy the company of others, valuing the shared journey more. Some joke that I have become something of a ‘social butterfly’ these days. And, it is true that I cannot endure long times of solitude, which I once treasured. I suppose there will be a balance as time passes, but I realize, even more than before, the wonderful gift of friendship. Life goes on and hearing children laugh, listening to others carry on the daily chatter, knowing that many pray for me – these things keep me on my feet. Solomon said that “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NIV) I say, Amen!
As much as we try to forget it, death is part of the human experience. We are so shocked when someone we love dies, as if something novel has occurred. We will all die! Instead of ignoring that fact, we need to let it frame our living days, not with dread, nor with fear, but rather as an encouragement to the best choices, to godliness. The greatest pain for me, other than feeling loss, are the memories that bring regret, times when I think, “If I had only known about her death, I would have …” So, LIVE today! Love God. Love others. Say the things that need to be said. Forgive, forget, choose to be wise.
A word from the Word for your thoughts today – “The length of our days is seventy years— or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10, NIV) “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12, NIV) “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14, NIV)
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you, for encouraging with notes, for praying for me. I am a blessed man.
With eternity’s values in view Lord
With eternity’s values in view
May I do each day’s work for Jesus
With eternity’s values in view
Alfred B. Smith © 1941. Renewal 1969 New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) CCLI License # 810055