Grieving is such a strange process. It’s something you sort of always know that you will have to do and it seems like something you should know HOW to do — as though it is a natural process. But when I say that I think of something my father said before Mom died. “I am so tired of hearing people say that death is a natural part of life! It’s not true. This is not what God intended! This is not how He meant it to be.” I know my logic is probably faulty somewhere along here, as it often is. But it would seem to me that if death is not natural, neither is the process of grieving a death and maybe that is why it is so hard. Maybe our hearts weren’t built to hold this pain or to miss the people we loved so dearly in this way. Maybe that’s why we refer to our hearts breaking — this is not the function for which they were intended.
Driving home from work today with Eamonn in the back seat we were singing “This is the Day that the Lord has Made” at the top of our lungs (he likes to holler, “AGAIN!” every time the track finishes so I’ll replay it for him) and I looked out over a valley to the side of the freeway that was awash in sunlight. It was covered with poppies and mustard and it really was a stunning thing. My instant thought was, “Oh wow. Mom would love to see this!” Always before I would dial her up immediately and tell her but with a punch to my gut I realized that I could not. As I have been doing this past week and a half, I stopped and immediately forced myself to remember that she is seeing things now that would put anything this Earth has to offer to shame.
Ella asked Crista the other day what Heaven was like and Crista told her, “Ella, imagine your very best day.”
I think it had to do with going to Disneyland, visiting all the Disney princesses, and knowing my niece, there was likely candy or cake in there somewhere. Crista told her, “If you were in Heaven like Grandma is and someone came and told you they wanted you to leave so that you could go have your best day here, Heaven would be SO MUCH better that it would seem like the person was telling you that you had to go get a spanking.”
I believe this is true. I believe it with more of my heart than I would have been willing to test a few weeks ago. Sometimes the scariest thing about faith is that it is so often untried. We hear stories about martyrs and heroes of the faith and I often find myself wondering, “In the face of all that, could I still believe? Is this just a crutch? Will it hold me up?”
I am being held up.
And yet, I hurt. Tonight, just before I started to write this, I dared to look at a picture of my mom for just a little too long. She was so lovely. She could not smile without a spark. She could not go through a waking day without being kind. She was not perfect but oh, she was lovely and as kind as you might ever meet. And I miss her so. The pain of it frightens me, the fear of how deep it goes is overwhelming.
So I sit here at my kitchen table and write and cry and pray. I don’t know what else to do.
My friend Jen pulled me aside at Mom’s memorial service and she gave me two large stones. One was rose quartz and the other was blue kyanite and they both are beautiful. She gave them to me for my garden. When I told my mother-in-law she said, “Well, that’s biblical! In the Old Testament, didn’t they place stones to mark a spot that was Holy or where they had an encounter with God?”
I have been taking my grief to my garden, praying there in the dirt and weeds, and this is where I will take my stones.
One more step in the lesson of grief learned and — sitting here right now as I think about it I realize that — already I feel a bit better.