I was never really "Daddy's little girl", but my Dad was a presence of peace, stability, and love to me. He had large hands and broad shoulders that could hold the world up off of our heads if he needed to.
One day my mother called me to say that my Dad had cancer; terminal and fierce....One year later, he passed away quietly surrounded by a group of family and friends, my Mom laboring with him as if she could help him continue to breath. The process of his illness and death was one of the most excruciating events of all of my experiences. I grieved the change from having a well parent to an ill parent, and for our past together ( my childhood). I grieved at his decline, and grieved again with finality over his death. I touched his massive hands that last day a dozen times and tried to soak in the lines of his face. How could I live now, a happy life with this...this tragedy? It felt so wrong. I cried for a long time. But, I rarely cry any more.
Why don't I cry anymore?
I know it may be obvious, but I try not to remember, or look at his pictures except on a glance, and when I speak of him, I don't think deeply. I leave the tapes of his voice in the drawer and the videos in their cases. And maybe I have sort of compartmentalized my feelings about this and tucked them away-- don't we all? It is a great arrangement that probably most people have going on who have lost in life deeply, and it is a way to carry on. Without it, I would still be crying. I hide from my grief. I hide.
These days are for letting some grief in.
Over the weekend my mom-in-law had a garage sale. She picked up one of the books on her sale table that someone had donated and handed it to me. It was called "Saving Zimbabwe". She said, "You like Africa, why don't you keep this one for yourself?" 337 pages later, the shadows of grief came and lingered. For a couple of days I peered into the lives of people who were just like me; living out the story that God had given them, regular folks hoping to follow God's will. They were Zimbabweans mostly, both black and white living in a community that loved and cared for one another in the purest ways. They extended their love into their community and to their country. The essence of the story was just like yours and mine, but in their story was great opposition to their love and faith and in the end, a terrible, ugly, tragedy occurred......they were each martyred together; men, women, children, and infants, for their acts of love and service. On a day that I was probably headed off to classes or to work as a 19 year old, they were laying down their lives to men who hated them and all that HE, the Almighty, had put in their hearts to give.
Unexpected reality check.
Out of summer emerges autumn and from autumn creeps the cold of winter, and this is a season to let some grief in and to allow some tears to flow, pausing from assuring myself of how safe I am, how good my life can be, how bright my future is, and how sure the love around me remains. It is simplistic but true to say that "not everyone enjoys this reality", and it is also a grievous reality that I haven't always seen this, or cared.
Reality is that for all of the happy and safe people on earth, there are also people that hurt because of family disputes, job losses, sickness, old age, old wounds, failures, loneliness---- people starving, loosing hope and homes, loosing parents, dignity, loosing lives. And I may just need to cry for a long while and soak in the comfort of forgiveness for my closed eyes.........because these realities are not new.....it's only my "seeing" with compassion that is.
After the martyrs were taken it was told that a great light shown down from the night sky and illuminated the scene, infuriating and frightening the murderers, lost and full hate. HIS love will always light up the darkness and in HIS presence is fullness of joy (Psalms 16:11). And grief is not the end...maybe it is the beginning of something more beautiful.
(please overlook the bold and light letters in the post. I didn't seem to have control as to this function as something seemed a bit haywire in that way with my blog server)