Posts Tagged ‘Loss’

Mermaid by Ruth Price.JPG u2areloved

“You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end”——Someone I Used to Know — Go Tye

      I watch as you set sail this morning.  So close to me; mere yards away still in my line of sight; I could swim to you so quickly, yet you’re so far away.  I’m frozen here, suspended in this sea, a suspension of salt and tears; I’m gliding  through wave after wave totally unseen by you.  I watch in horrified silence as you pull up anchor for the last time from this vast ocean. This dark mysterious element that’s taken many a strong man down, condemned for having had the will to wrestle it.  Yes, it’s swallowed the souls of brave and strong, timid and weak–all meeting, perhaps some seeking, the same fate: deep silence.

Yet you are one of the lucky ones.  You’ll leave this sea for the same reason you came to it:  Escape.  This singular concept has captivated you and countless other men over the centuries.   You will ultimately abandon this sea, and those that remain here.  Yet I know it will never completely leave you.  Its waters course your blood now.

Escape has a magnetic pull all of its own.  Combined with the pull of the moon, this sea has tempted then swallowed men from all continents for eons as it whispers:  Come set sail with me. Ride me; and I’ll give you a highway with no one on it.  And to a few who hear incorrectly:  Tame me.  I’m yours. 

And then there’s me.  Seen only by the rarest few I choose to allow, I bare my soul, my body, always with hope—this incessant, plague-ridden hope that there will be a way other than death to make you stay.  Never!  The sea denies me.  Never!

Haunting.  That’s the word you said to me when you first saw the endless deep in my eyes.  I’ve heard it in other centuries by other men, but from you it suddenly meant well–moreArrested you said as you described your heart around me.  Soft as sea glass were the words you used when you caressed my tale.  Then suddenly you’re:  Gone.   When I leave you, I’ll lie to myself: what you leave behind you don’t miss anyway. 

My tail is anchored to me as much as it is separate from me; for it is a tale as old as time itself.  The tail of a mermaid is worshiped and cherished by the fraternity of the sea as a symbol of freedom and of wanderlust–the sea’s  mysterious ways, and yet I know differently.

For it is not a tale of freedom, but a soft and gentle enslavement.   A craving to be bound to a soul that equally yearns to be anchored to no man, to no ideal, to no promise, no permanent residence.  Certainly to no woman.    My tail is my story; it is a part of me as much as it is about me.  I can’t remove it, though God knows sometimes I would if I could.

I don’t know if God purposed this tail to assist me or to curse me; perhaps it was to protect me.  Either way, it is mine and mine alone.  Never will I feel the Italian leather strap wrapped around my ankle propping me up like the land women you always return to but never give your heart to.  Even when I gave you my body, I knew it was only half of what you needed.  I would never be enough.  I have the potential to swim for miles, yet I stay anchored always to drifting in the same circles, hiding, avoiding danger, and cursed above all: waiting in silence. 

I’ll never take to the skies and fly across the continents like your land women do.  Never will I be adorned with a diamond or a ring of gold.  Yet once you placed a string of pearls around my neck.  I laughed at the irony.  Why I could get those anywhere!  But your heart was pure that day.  I cupped my auburn hair to my right shoulder and let you clasp them around me as I felt your hands wrap around me. You touched me where I was vulnerable, the parts of me that other men spend countless hours laboriously carving, sanding, smoothing, painting, while silently worshiping me more and more in the process of trying to recreate me.  It’s odd, these figureheads of  me mounted like a sacrifice to adorn their ship’s bow in order to ward off evil spirits, as if that’s where their protection lay.

When I felt your warm touch on this sacred part of me, I immediately felt electrified, like an eel.   Did you know then what you were doing to me?  What you were touching?  Were you aware of this singular moment in time?  Rareness.  One in a hundred million.  Exquisiteness. 

I forever remember the night I met you Captain.  With your steely legs and arms bursting with enormous strength, yet a conscience as fragile as fine porcelain.   You awoke, drowing in my blue sea Captain.  Do you remember how?   I watched from afar as you emptied in futility a brown bottle of spirits, tossing it afterwords carelessly into the sea. You kept looking over the starboard as if looking for the lost part of you in some magic mirror.  Did you forget who you were?

Intuition is such a curse.  You always know what’s going to happen next

I could almost hear you pleading and doubting.  Jesus. Could you take the time to throw a drowning man a line?

When you jumped into the soothing warm depths I understood.  We all want to escape that which haunts our soul and terrorizes our ability to move forward.

You were in the black.  You couldn’t see or be seen.  And so you fell, drowning man. You went down, down, down.  I waited a moment as I watched, mesmerized, momentarily paralyzed by the last trace of your beautifully illuminated face  as it quietly slipped away under the moonlight. It was then I risked discovery as I propelled towards you like lightening.  My sea sisters shook their heads as if to say, ” No!  Don’t!”

It’s a lesson my heart can’t wrap its tentacles around. “ Don’t you know,”  Father Neptune once told me, “The moment you start to save them, you begin to lose them?” 

I couldn’t believe then how this could be true.  But I understand now. It’s so hard for man to maintain belief in something he can’t see, much less prove to others.  This cognitive dissonance you possess, this incredible ability to love me the deepest and believe in me more than you do yourself, and yet in the span of a singular sunrise leave me, forgetting me, sometimes for a very long while.  This!  This is the scourge of my soul, the reason for my tears.

I dove straight down until I found you.  I didn’t have a choice, but to lift you up.  So I did; I lifted you up with my tail.  I carried you away.  I wanted to keep you, just for me,  if only for a little while.  My arms embraced you.  My hands, though small were strong enough to pull you up and out.  I pulled you towards me.  I blew the breath of life into you, until I could feel your heartbeat against mine, until we were in sync, co-existing, two hearts that beat as one.

Oh Captain, how magnificent that moment was.  The night your life came back to you, I thought I would burst with joy.  I should’ve known from that moment forward a small piece of my soul would be taken with you on each ensuing voyage.

When you came to, you were looking deep in my eyes as if standing on the edge of unbelief.   It’s not a mirage of madness I nodded.  It’s true.  I’m here.  I saved you! 

We lingered in the water for a while, neither of us daring to move.  The crescent moon sliced our water with a bright blaze of wet white light, near to us, yet just out of reach.  I let you hold me for a while hoping,  praying you could somehow divine what I most wanted.   Yet it could never be.  You, o creature of land, could never stay here.  I knew that too.  But denial is a sea where even a mermaid can drown. 

Our arms wrapped around one another, my tail gave your weary legs stability as we tread water for a spell,  entwined like vines of the sea. I saw a tear begin to fall from your eye.  I put my finger to it.  You hung your head in shame.

“My sweet angel.  My sweet angel of the abyss.  How could you save me?  For I am an unworthy man.  I’ve been dishonest.  I bartered my soul in exchange for silver and gold.  All my men! They’re sailing their last voyage.  They’ve been promised by the arrogant kings of earth treasures of glorious riches, but deep down they know.  They’re off to fight the endless wars started by these same wicked kings and rulers whose blood lust is always for more–whose wars were always the choice of the chosen who will not have to fight.  More land!  More treasure!  Above all, more power!  My protection is assured; I only have to deliver them to the carnage, pawns of their kings, to their dreadful end. I’ve always had the luxury of returning home. Yet I’ve exchanged many nights of rest for these few days of worthless riches.  The only thing more vast than this God-forsaken sea is my sorrows. And now my sorrows have learned to swim.”

I couldn’t take another minute.  Why?  Why is living on the land so complicated?  Where is the love?  Why can’t there be peace on earth?    And in return one’s soul?

At that moment I put my lips to yours.  Your strength was not without humilityYou did not know your weakness was actually a treatable disease.  You, a mere man who resisted interrogations of all sorts, who fought and won many a battle and overcame some temptations in your younger years, fought me not when I kissed you.  You kissed me back.  Then you closed your eyes.  Were you blinded by the beauty of me and my home in the sea or were you pushing back a life filled with too many lies?   Did you savor the taste of my salt-water kisses?  Did you carve a place somewhere deep in your heart at that moment reserved just for me?  In this garden of the sea, my gypsy heart simultaneously shattered and swooned.    The seas swirled; everything was spinning around us.  We were kissing, living life true by moonlight, but only for a little while.

It was time to return the Captain of the Gloria.  Back to the men who would be depending on you—your fierce courage in adversity, your decisions under pressure, your steady confidence as together you faced perilous storms and unknown futures.  You knew.  You didn’t fight me when I began leading you back to your ship.   A stroke of fate had allowed a sailor on deck to hear you as you splashed into the water.  A crew was already in the water searching for a trace of you with their search lights.  As we neared your vessel, I propelled you like a rocket, away from me. In a flash I was gone.

I dove down deep, always evading discovery.  I’m able to suspend time unlike you.  On my way down, the last thing I saw were your feet.  I froze here for a moment.  For all eternity I will replay that moment in my mind.  For the briefest of time you were with me, but I know this to be true.  You will walk on.  Yet in my dreams, I stay here, always falling– falling at your feet.

Forever my mind will see visions of you, a treasure just to look upon it.  Eternally my heart will pine for you.  And I will always wonder but one thought:  Had I remained visible, would you have returned to me? 

The morning after I saved you, the skies were clear.  You didn’t pull up anchor.  Nor the next.   Or the one after.  I could not imagine what excuses you used to avoid sailing.  And on the fourth day, I saw you then.  Your dark hair tossed with strands of silver, and strong arms escaping your white sailor’s shirt.

I saw it then.  I followed the curves and lines of your sinewy arms down to your forearms as you hoisted the sails that would eventually carry you home, and away from me.  A tattoo.   Your first one; your only one.  A man your age with virgin skin on these seas was so rare, but during this voyage,  you broke ranks with yourself and cut yourself for me, exchanging your blood for the inky green of the sea.  I knew.  Only love could leave such a mark.

I smiled when I saw this portrait of myself reflected in the mirror of your skin.  I cried too.  I knew these same arms would deliver Abraham’s sons to their death; collect a king’s reward, and ultimately wrap around the torso of another.  Your strong hands would outline the small of a back of a woman who could walk the earth, and say what she meant, though she would know you not.    Not like me.

I was overcome as I was left in the water.  Waves of regret and waves of joy washed over me.  In five years, I saw you three times after the night I saved you.  You would share more secrets with me each time.  You would kiss me as your adorned me with your pearls, electrifying me with your touch.  Each of us would be what the other wished to possess but could never have.

But the last time I saw you, I stayed far away.  I could see storm clouds gathering that your eyes couldn’t yet see.  Death would be your fate if you were to fall in love with only my humanity.  I saw you late the night before pacing from bow to stern checking with the stars and searching with your binoculars for that which you knew, but couldn’t prove.  I, the harbor in your tempest, the lighthouse of your soul, will always be here.  I know deep down you will come to know this, and yet you will continue to returning to this place until finally you simply believe it.

That is when I will see you no more.  You will make your peace with your memory of me and your life with all of its trials and storms and lies and heartaches.  You will reconcile them along with possessing the beauty of a woman who walks, a baby who smiles, and men who’ll give their life for you and a few who did, and all the fine things that treasure can buy.  Yet I know on the darkest nights, when your soul is in knots and your heart is black and blue, and you’re fleeing again all that pains you, I, the soul of your mermaid will be with you.  I’ll be your North Star; I’ll be the one that lights your way. I’ll help you and carry you as you navigate safely home.  Always!

*Mermaid Painting on Porcelain Plate:  Ruth Price – Artist — Beaufort, NC

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Not a Hopeless Case

Posted: May 16, 2013 in Hope, Loss, Love
Tags: , ,

Love EnoughHave you ever known someone in the pit?  Someone other people need to take a break from?  You know–someone with issues? 

How could they just screw up their life like that?  What a colossal failure.  Why didn’t they just decide better?  Some people need to just get in gear and pull themselves together.

Yeah sure they should.  If they could just be more put together like you.  Like me.  NOT!

See the problem is when you’re in the pit, you don’t need someone to come along side you and condemn you for being in the pit, even if it is a disaster of your own making.  No, what people need is a friend.  A friend who is honest and understands bad choices lead to bad consequences but they love you anyway.  A pit-dweller needs someone who will climb down and sit beside them and stay awhile.    Not an enabler, but a disarmer of that which entangles you is what is called for.

Judgment is reserved for those who hear our trials and determine the consequences. But mercy?  Well that’s a higher way.  Mercy is dispensed liberally from those who have a compassionate heart and realize that forgiveness can lead a person living in shame out of darkness quicker than condemning them.

Next time you see the so-called bum on the corner, realize maybe they aren’t just another bum, but a hurting heart that took a series of wrong turns coupled with some circumstances beyond their control.  Maybe the teenager who is always wasted hates himself more than the people who pass him by totally unaware, except for a momentary case of disdain.  Maybe the person you know who is behaving stupidly needs to be reminded that you care enough to let them know you cannot stand idly by and watch them destroy their life and the lives of those around them.  Confront them.  In love.  In truth.   Maybe they’ll lash out.  Or perhaps they’ll break.  Maybe they’ll just deny.  Or avoid you.   Be courageous and persist.  The truth takes a stab at our dark hearts until hopefully some of the light will seep back in.

We all need someone who loves enough to hold us accountable, but we especially need it when we’re being gripped by that which can destroy us whether it’s outward behaviors or inward attitudes.  We need someone who won’t let us blame others for our mistakes and someone brave enough to not let us be a perpetual victim.  A real no-nonsense, no-excuses type friend is someone who lets you be you without trying to change you, but draws the line when you cross over into narcissism just because you’re down and out.  A true friend will build your self-esteem with encouragement but will call you out at the first seeds of arrogance.   A friend for life is the one who will sit beside you in the pit and never let you go back to the place that helped you get here.  They know your dirt but love you enough to not pass it around for others to inspect.

No man (or woman) is an island.  It’s true; sometimes you can’t make it on your own.  You can’t save everyone you ever encounter but if there is someone in your life whose story is stirring up unrest in your soul, all I can say is this.  Help them.  Go get them.  Don’t ignore your instincts.  Be the life-preserver that allows rescue to happen.   Above all, pray for them.  Be courageous enough to say something.   You may not be able to save them or change them, but God can.   When they are ready to choose change, you can be their biggest cheerleader to encourage them to hang in there and take steps in a different direction.

       Don’t abandon the hurting or injured.  Don’t pass by the down and outers.    Don’t hold back your love from those who need it most.  None of us are a hopeless case.  And in case you feel forgotten or neglected or abandoned, rest assured if you are still here, even if people have forgotten you, God has not.

Never forget that!    Hold on.  You may not feel it yet.   You may not believe it.  But you too are loved.

“Touch me.  Take me to that other place.   Reach me.   I know I’m not a hopeless case…..”  More than a song, perhaps it’s a prayer of someone you know.  Who will you reach out to and love today?

Giulia Muraglia FF

PHOTO CREDIT: GIULIA MURAGLIA

What’s your most treasured memory?  The first moment you met someone you love?  A place you stood?  The beginning of something or someone?  A sight forever memorized by your heart?  Perhaps words that were said, spoken, written, or sung that you can’t get out of your head, even if you try?

Time passes and we want to hold on to special memories.   Our material possessions and even our relationships roll in and out of our life like the tide, and most we let go and don’t even know they are gone until something way off in the future triggers a memory:

  • Oh yeah, I had a stuffed bear like that once
  • I haven’t heard this song in years!  It reminds me of….
  • I remember being here as a kid
  • I remember you…..
  • I couldn’t forget_____ if I tried

I recently took the most amazing vacation with my family.  It was six years in the making and our first and only trip as a complete family since my youngest was born seven years ago.   We saved.    We borrowed.  We coordinated work and school schedules for all.    We saw it all, did it all, ate it all, and savored it all.

Along the way I took the next biggest extension of me, beyond my pen; I brought my camera and lens.  Not just any lens, the best lens, a luxury lens I had rented for my best camera in order to preserve these precious memories for time immemorial.

I clicked.  I clicked again and again.  Every beautiful animal and dreamy landscape.  Every arrangement of family portraits you could imagine. Lots of impromptu stuff too.  All professional looking.  National Geographic doesn’t look this great I thought.

My husband snapped an amazing pic of me with a Great Horned owl swooping above my head as I blinked in awesome wonder as he swooped a silent cool breeze less than inch above my head. I couldn’t wait to see this one later.  I didn’t look now in order to conserve my battery  and to save it for “dessert” after our trip ended.  I took a photo of my young son’s beautiful face softly illuminated by the light of a single birthday candle.  I told my family, this is the BEST photo I’ve ever taken.

I clicked over twelve hundred images.  I had plans to make scrapbooks and a movie of our trip.  Sights, smells, foods, countries, animals, music, architecture—it was all there.  It was dreamy.  It was surreal.  It was to be my concrete reminder of who we were then–in a place called the future.

It was to be my memory when future time becomes unreliable, perhaps even cruel.

I’ve  always viewed pictures as an insurance policy to protect our memory from what our brain invariably experiences:

A slow fade

These pictures were to be my proof that heaven on earth almost exists.

Except that it doesn’t.

On the last night, my camera disappeared.  In a span of less than ten minutes.  It’s possible I misplaced it, but I tend to guard my camera tighter than the Royal Guard watches over the Queen.

Stolen memories.  All of them.

I cried for almost twenty four hours straight.  It was hard watching my family watch me as they grappled to understand why this hit me so hard.  I explained, it wasn’t just the value of the camera, or the fact I can’t get back time and recreate all this.  It’s more.

A part of me was taken too.  Artists are more closely connected to their work than you may think.  You pour your energy and your soul into what you love.  It may only be understood and meaningful to you. Still, it does have meaning.

But this is the twist:  The creation becomes larger than life.  The creation supersedes the creator.

This is the great lie.  All the grandeur and majesty of created things, be it in nature, or be it made by human hands, is not eternal.   Be it castles or mountains or birds or prey or even temporary people like me or even the pictures I snapped away–it doesn’t last.

It all fades away.

We can’t hold on no matter how tightly we try.  No matter how determined we are to remember.  Just like we can’t keep anything we love forever, we also can’t control that which isn’t ours to control.

Yes, I lost all my pictures this week.  I lost my best camera, the one that snapped the first seconds of life of my youngest son.  I lost my digital best friend, my shadow sister who hangs on my shoulder at every significant event.

But I didn’t lose my children.  Oh, how I didn’t lose what I actually love.  We live in world where evil exists and a silent enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that we hold dear.   This had to be my perspective as I had no other choice but to move forward–it’s the people in this moment, this sacred moment called now that is all we truly ever have. 

I still  mourn for the loss of precious memories, yes.  But there is something no thief, be it man or time can destroy:

  • My joy.
  •  My appreciation of beauty.
  •  My wanderlust to travel and understand the world way beyond my own.
  •  My love and zest for life.
  •  My compulsion to create and share.  
  • My soul memories.  
  • Me, and all that I love.

I know I won’t remember all the images.  But I will remember the essence of our amazing trip.

Time will pass and people will pass too.  Loss will keep meeting me at the intersection of  “unprepared for this.”   “Not expecting this” will keep colliding with “not yet.”   

Pain will continue to interrupt our plans and knock us out of orbit as we journey through life.

All that is beautiful  and lovely and inspiring and honorable and  good, as well as all that is crushing and cruel and unexpected and difficult will all diminish.

Everything on this side of the veil is a slow fade.  

See the beauty in your mind as you learn to let go in life and allow God to be in charge.

 

 

 

I am going to go way out on a limb here, but hope you will stick with me to the end.  I want to ask you something.

How deep do you want to be loved?

      I’m also going to be unashamedly real in my answer.   THIS MUCH!  No, I take that back, even more!  For fans of U2, this song certainly has such a life of its own and certainly connects with people spiritually—yes, men like it too, not just women.   U2 has said its “goal is soul” and this chart-smasher proves it.

Let me talk about something else though.  Sometimes a person just can’t deliver the goods.  Not your mate; not a rock star, not your best friend, not even yourself, no one!    The thing is we are human, and thus limited by our humanity.

In our most giving capacity, we can’t totally be the very thing that someone else needs or wants from us, or more painful, we are capable, but we willingly hold back.  Yet the most painful of all, is even if we love with all of our soul and being, we still fall short, because of this one simple fact:

We can’t sustain it. Time promises this.

     We can’t sustain the intensity because we are constrained by time; the best moments can’t last.  Those perfect moments in life are also the cruelest because they don’t and can’t last, and some of us chase them until the end of our life, trying to recapture or recreate them in all their significance and magnificence, in the way we perceive beauty.  Yes, sometimes we need it like a drug.

Herein lies love’s curse:  I can’t live—with or without you.

       Hear me right.  This goes beyond sex or friendship or passion or reason.  It cuts right to the core of who we truly are.   It’s the deepest part of our soul that can almost seem misunderstood by others. We can’t even form the words that describe our desire for this love, this way to be loved.

Perhaps the closest word is perfect.  We want perfect love delivered perfectly!  No drama, no conditions, no expectation, just pure and perfect love.  This is the dilemma of our lives as we chase what we never had, what we thought we once had, or fight to maintain what we appear to have (if only to us).

Like the song says, “we give ourselves away.”  Indeed.  We give ourselves away as we work and we live and we do—everyday.  The sands in our hourglass fall a little bit faster each day.  Most of us push ourselves constantly past expectations—both of ourselves and others.  Still, it’s not enough.  In our most satisfied moments, we want just a little bit more.

This weekend I watched a mom and her children I’ve known for years bury their dad and husband.  You didn’t have to be their best friend, to grasp the depth of their loss.  The rawness of their fresh pain ripped everyone.  We all want to do something to spare them from this; we can’t.   It’s because on earth, we can’t keep it.   Either way the best love will eventually be stripped from our open arms or our clenched fingers.  That’s why we don’t need to manipulate, control, trick, smother, beg, or insist for another to love us perfectly.    That only insures us they won’t or can’t.

Believe me my heart struggles with this, but my head knows this:  Another human being can’t love you deep enough or long enough.  There has to be more.

There is.  God steps in.  Yes, God–the be all and end all of the perfect love we crave.  This too is hard, because we’re walking and loving not by sight, but by faith.    We’re walking and loving by truth and promises, not by what we feel.  That’s a heavy thought, but a freeing reality that makes our burdens lighter to carry.

Somewhere in the heart of all us, if we’re honest, is the little boy or little girl who just wants to be held, to be pulled in close, and to be looked in the eye so deeply you can see our heart.  We want affirmation that we are good, we are loveable, and that it is seen by someone bigger than us.

U2, both their music and especially their front man Bono, seem to master this “soul-connect” with people by expanding the invisible thread that connects our hearts to one another.  The truest, ok maybe the sanest, of U2 fans know this:   It’s not about Bono or the band or even the amazing music itself, it’s the love that comes from a higher power, and they’re just fellow travelers like us, mere humans, who allow it to pass through via music, lyrics, and most of all— heart.

Every good song, concert, moment, or relationship concludes.  So what’s left?

God’s love is the cure.  It transcends space and time and imperfection on our part.    We just have to get our head and our heart around it sometimes.  May you travel light, find your song to sing, love people, and live well!

 

For me, I take it on faith that perfect love exists because there is a God, He is good, and He loves us.  There are some of my favorite scriptures on love and faith:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Hebrew 11:1

We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?  Romans 8:24

There is no fear where love exists. Rather, perfect love banishes fear, for fear involves punishment, and the person who lives in fear has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ISV)

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.   Ephesians 3:19

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.

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