Archive for the ‘Finality’ Category

On July 4th I published my post (Out of Control) Freak.   I woke up that day, wrote, and got on with my day making plans for July 4th with friends and family.  It seemed like another day, with the added bonus of being off work in the middle of the week.   I didn’t know the world was crumbling, changing form only a few feet from my home.

In the middle of the afternoon, the hundred degree heat sat thick and heavy on the ground. The sky grew black.  An explosion of thunder crashed as if a bomb went off.  Severe lightening and a pounding rain assaulted the heat.  Though it was ominous outside, I felt safe and secure in the comfort of my little world at home, near the half of family that was here and I prayed for my half that wasn’t here.

It appeared as if all was ok in my world, save for the barrage of fire trucks, police, and ambulances that began to flood our neighborhood.  I was busy writing and didn’t know only a block away, a fellow neighbor’s home was burning to the ground.   They were on vacation as their house perished in flames and smoke.  I also didn’t know that just over my fence, my neighbor of seventeen years got the dreaded phone call we beg God to spare us from:

I’m sorry; there’s been an accident.    Your husband was killed.

       Struck was the word used.   Yet he died as he lived; he was in the middle of doing something he loved.  He went for an afternoon ride on his bike before they were to leave for the beach.  What happens in a single hour?

  • A man who’s pedaled thousands of miles is struck by a truck in the middle of his ride.
  • Gawkers flood our street and follow plumes of smoke to see what is happening.
  • Pyrotechnicians are busy fusing fireworks on a platform while preparing for possible rain.
  • A neighbor rings my doorbell.  My writing time is interrupted.
  • Why isn’t my daughter back from work yet?
  • My friend is finishing packing bags and coolers when the telephone rings.
  • I want to finish my tasks so I can enjoy fireworks in a few hours.
  • Paramedics desperately try to save a man who was hit while riding his bike.
  • Thunder explodes.  Lightening crashes.  Then the rain comes.
  • It’s just another day.  It never is. 

Control of our lives is always an illusion.  I grieve for the moments I’ve lost due to anger, resentment, or frustration where I didn’t have control.   I wish I could take back moments I made the wrong choice or said words I shouldn’t have.  I wish I could freeze time and stay in the moments that were beautiful:  The moment you hold your new baby for the first time, the moments when you intensely loved and were loved, the sweet moment your child hugs your neck and jumps up on you.   We can’t; we’re out of control.

In life, sadly we get no do-overs.  We don’t get to remake yesterday; we only create today.  I found out by watching the evening news, something I rarely do anymore.  I felt sick, but prayed for courage and walked over in the rain to see my neighbor yesterday.   We shared quite a few conversations over the years.  We watched as new babies were born, and chatted when the kids played at the pool.  For years I smiled when I would wash dishes at my sink and watch her three rambunctious boys play with their dog and their dad outside my window.

Now there’s a good family I’d think.  They lived, and they worked, and they loved.  They loved Jesus, had cook outs, threw the Frisbee to the dog, and made plans for their future.  But they didn’t make this one.

In a few hours, I’ll be sitting in a church, most likely crying with hundreds of other friends and family members I do not know.  I’m sad and stunned by the loss of a great neighbor.   I can’t even begin to comprehend their loss of a father and husband who was cherished.

I only know this:  They are not alone.   When I went to visit yesterday, the house was full.  Full of comforting friends, grieving grandmothers, crawling babies, church ladies making food, and a sad dog wondering why all the people but no papa.  I walked in, and my newly widowed neighbor was laughing.  Laughing!  She was briefly in a happy moment as she was showing pictures to relatives.  This made me cry.  I knew when she turned around, there I’d be, another face with tears that kept repeating and confirming: It’s real.  It happened.  He’s gone.  I’m so sorry.

Hugs and tears were exchanged.  My feeble words were compensated for by God’s loving grace.  I was astounded by this mom’s great faith, for these dark hours where she stands and greets people warmly, clasps their hands and repeatedly says, “thank you.”  I reel at the unfairness of life.  I want to take this from her and spare her loving sons.  I can’t.  I have zero control.  They are going to walk through this anyway.

This is the moment we live our faith.  How do we respond when we go through what we didn’t ask for and once we are made aware of what someone else is going through?   I don’t know exactly; I know I can only start with this:  I pray.  I ask for wisdom, grace, comfort, and time to give these things.  I thank God for time we share with family, friends, neighbors, even when it’s brief.   I beg God for mercy and ask for all needs to be met.  I ask for this family to be surrounded by lots and lots of love, especially the long days ahead.

Every moment is indeed a gift; it really is a present.  I pray today that you can unwrap the love and then give it away.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:1-2

Though our grief is devastating, God’s grace truly is amazing.

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Photo Credit:  http://christykrobinson.blogspot.com/2011/04/she-loved-much.html

A song to help you in your despair:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvDCcCUL0E0

Some of the hardest tears I ever cried were the ones that were on what I call the killing floor.   Down, down, down you go.  Out pour the tears.  I once had someone tell me if you are sobbing uncontrollably, you should suck your thumb because it will make you stop.  Maybe you’ll start laughing and it will diminish some of the pain.  Yet I find, if and when you are in that place, not much of anything helps.  It’s like the Hoover Dam just burst and no amount of “it’s going to be okays” and hugs will put you back together again.    Time doesn’t heal all wounds; it only seeks to buffer the memory.

I’ve always wondered if men cry this deeply.  I would imagine some do.  I haven’t met one; well not that I know of.  Intuitively, I am pretty sure they exist, but like a tall tower, the perceived risk of collapse and all ensuing aftermath seems so much more catastrophic were they to risk their vulnerability.  We women, well that is part our beauty, our tenderness, our hearts that can shatter like glass.  It’s from the same well of tenderness, that allows us to love passionately.  One of my favorite U2 songs Kite reminds us “you need some protection, the thinner the skin.”  Indeed.

Pain of the deepest magnitude is the twisting and wrenching of one’s soul.  It’s the fear that the depth of this intensity may possibly not end.  It’s knowing that whatever caused this flood is irreversible.  The only thing that can be undone now is you.

Hopefully a family member or friend is there.  But often, in the depths of despair, there isn’t one to be found.  Perhaps a loved one is the cause of this; or worse, perhaps it’s you because of the choices you made.  Abandonment by someone you loved deeply, the death of someone you loved deeply or a dream you held so dear, or the revealed truth of who you truly are is often the bedrock of our grief.  The truth is revealed, in all its ugliness and finality and you already know no amount of tears will change it.  No do-over, no going back in time, there is only now and going forward.

So you cry.   Christians call it the “come to Jesus” moment.  It’s the place you go when there is absolutely nowhere else to go.  The depth of your loss and the pain of you feeling lost is more than you can bear.

       I can’t believe he just left me and the kids; we had everything.

       I lied.  I am so very sorry.

      We regret to inform you that your son was killed in the line of duty.

      I am an addict; and I can’t stop.

     The cancer is growing fast.  If we’re lucky, we’re looking at three months.

      Sweetie, about your mom—she’s not coming back. 

This moment, this is the one that not one of us gets immunity forever from.  Down come the knees; and so we fall.  We all fall; we’re “Falling at Your Feet.”  Pain is hell, but with grace, comes the promise of healing that can start now.  This will be the moment that changes everything from this point forward for you.  It’s the hour of decision and the line you have to draw in the sand.  You must decide, once you rise, who you will be now.

Here’s what I need to let you know.  Cry.  Even Jesus wept.  Cry for your loss.  Cry for the unfairness of it all.  Cry because it’s all true.

Although the next step is the hardest, it will be the best one you’ll ever take: the decision to rise.  Get off that killing floor.  Open the door.  Step out and face the brutality of your reality.  And know this also, you don’t have to do this alone.    For when all is said and done, you will look back and you will just KNOW—this was the moment you decided not only to survive; but to live.   Choose life.


For men are not cast off by the Lord forever.  Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.   For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.  Lamentations 3:31-33