“I thought I could describe a state; make a map of sorrow. Sorrow, hoever, turns out to be not a state but a process.” ~ C. S. Lewis
For 25 years we were parents [in-law, in-heart, in-love] to a beautiful woman with a quick wit, a kind, loving heart and the capacity for drawing us into a circle of love. I want so much to write about her, but collapse in tears every time I try. My son is writing, but I cannot share that yet.
When she died this summer, we each plunged into land of shadows, which it turns out exists right in the smack dab center of every day life. The path loops and circles like a maze. Out there somewhere we will individually emerge into the sunlight, if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other and getting on with life. The shadows, however, shift and change our perceptions, still we climb out of bed in the morning or we don’t. We find diversions. We grapple with our grief which feels like anger at times or fear or like we have been filled with rocks. We are people of faith. That should make it easier, right? And it does in some ways, but my Lord, Jesus broke down in tears over the death of Lazarus and the grief of Mary and Martha. He knew within the hour Lazarus would walk out of the grave. I know our Martha laughs, leaps, dances and sings in heaven. Knowing, Believing fails to take the pain away.
And so we walk, sometimes Terry and I walk hand in hand. And we talk to each other, with our son, with others. We pray. In spite of the love and support of each other and others, we are on this journey through the valley of the shadow of death on separate winding paths. There are intersections where we meet, but the greater part of our time we are traveling solo, sometimes on roads that parallel but are so different .
Over the span of my 70 plus years I have experienced grief, but no two journeys through the valley of shadows has been the same. Over this past summer death has stolen from not only our family but from the families of people we know and love. I have felt a diminishing of myself with each loss.
I know I am not alone. Sometimes the shadows comfort me, pull me close, let me rage and I feel God’s presence. I know I am protected. I know I am under the wings of the Almighty, my refuge. Sometimes, however, I find myself stymied by the simplest choices, I walk into walls, I drop things and I break down and cry. Jesus said, he had overcome death, I know that in my head, but here and now on this journey, I want a MAP. I don’t wander well. Just saying…