My good friend, sister in Christ, and future mother-in-law to my daughter Danielle had asked me at lunch one day, "What's the hardest thing you're dealing with right now"? This was a question she could ask with much emotion attached because she herself is in the throws of dealing with a great loss. Back in April of 2013 she [Kathy] had found out her own mother had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and just 3 months after Jay went home to be with the Lord, her mother [affectionately known as Amee] would end her battle with sickness and take her glorious journey home to that mountain high above.
So as Kathy posed this very delicate question to me, I realized that she was opening the door to stop and think, 'Where are we right now, and what are our needs"? As mothers of the bride and groom we've been eagerly ready to unite our families, but we've also been through one of the roughest seasons of our lives, and now here we were just weeks before the big day. How do our minds wrap around the joy of this great celebration, while trying to cope with such great loss?
I've said it before, and I can't help but say it again, grief is a process. One minute I think I'm doing good and the next, I'm literally devastated all over again. I ask God often, "How will I go the rest of my life with this much sorrow"? And that was my answer to Kathy's question--"How will I go the rest of my life with this much sorrow"?
I recently celebrated my 30th anniversary. This was a bit overdue since my anniversary was in December, but I've been sick, a lot! It turns out my immune system has pretty much shut down. This can be a pretty common side effect when suffering the loss of a loved one, but in March I was able to get well enough to head out to Laguna Beach and finally celebrate mine and Jay's life of 30 years together.
I was a little nervous knowing I'd be there without him, staying at a hotel that held such great memories for both of us, seeing the spots on the beach we always called "ours", and passing all of our favorite food dives. But my daughter Danielle was with me the whole way to lend her love and support. After all, despite our grief, we had something we wanted to celebrate and we were determined to do so.
The weather was great, and I loved all of the opportunities I had to tell Danielle about the different stories of mine and her dad's time there. Some moments I shared with her were very special like when I surprised him with a stay at our favorite hotel. He turned the tables on me by surprising me with a beautiful heart shaped diamond necklace that he gave me in our room when we arrived. I was also able to share more casual moments like where our favorite walking paths were, and where we loved to eat Mexican food. It was such a great time of remembering him and feeling his presence throughout--but true to form--when I returned home his absence was that much more clear because of it, and when that happens the sorrow runs painfully deep.
So how does a person get through life with this much sorrow? The saying goes that time heals all wounds, but that gives little comfort when the clock seems to go slow when you need it to go fast, and fast when you need it to go slow. Time moving at all just seems wrong. And these were the thoughts on my mind when I went to bed that first night back from our weekend of celebrating.
As I laid in bed I reached out to the Lord for comfort and asked my pressing question, "how...", but He was silent, so my next move was to mentally prepare myself for a difficult week ahead. What I feared was that the heartache I felt would have no relief, and relief is what I so desperately needed, but as morning came the Lord's silence would change, and I would be reminded once again of His great love and care for me.
Jay had a best friend named Ben. Before Jay passed away we found out that Ben and his wife Heather would be having their 3rd child. Not long after Jay passed, Ben and Heather got the news that they would be having a boy. Without a second thought they decided they would name their son after my husband whose real name is Joe, and that they would call their son baby Jay. The whole thing just tickles me inside when I talk about it! Anyway, on this morning I received a text to be ready--Heather was in labor and baby Jay was on his way.
Ben and Heather had decided that they wanted to give me the honor of being the first one to see him after he was born, so after receiving the text I found myself on call for the day. My excitement began to build. My thoughts were shifted from sorrow to joy, and with the anticipation of baby Jay coming into this world I found myself walking around in public with a silly smile on my face that I couldn't control.
At about 4:30 I got the text, 'she's pushing', and that was my cue to head over. When I arrived at the hospital baby Jay was born, and I couldn't get up to the room quick enough to see him. I got to hold him within the first two hours of his birth and I was elated! I remember thinking as I stared into his precious face, 'Welcome baby Jay. God loves you so much, and we're all going to make sure you know it". I found myself in awe as I thought about my weekend, and the start of this day. One minute I had been mourning death so heavily I felt like I couldn't breathe, and the next minute I was not only celebrating life, I was holding it in my arms.
Life is complicated, but I believe the answer to my question, "how will I go the rest of my life with this much sorrow', lies somewhere between accepting pain and embracing celebration, both with a grateful heart, because both make the face of Jesus that much clearer.
Please pray for me and my growing family as we prepare to embrace the celebration of Danielle and Adam's wedding day. Jay and Amee will be there with us in spirit and forever in our hearts, and for that I am grateful.
God is good...