“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1
“In the midst of life we are in death; BCP-p.493
It happens every year. You would think I would recognize it when it begins, but I don’t. I start to feel gloom and maybe doom and I’m not sure why. Nothing has really happened. It is very near the end of winter and I have Seasonal Affective Disorder but I don’t think it’s that. It’s more intense. I know I haven’t been out in the sun enough. But…
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.” ~ Psalm 42:11
And then it hits me. Grief does. Every year it sneaks up on me and every year it takes some time to understand why I’m feeling so gloomy and so helpless. And then it dawns on me. It’s March. It’s been 22 years since our son killed himself. His birthday is the end of March, and he died on April 6. His funeral was the day before Palm Sunday. Usually, this depression comes very close to Holy Week, so it’s a bit early which is why I didn’t recognize it at first. It’s been a difficult year – two years really. There has been a lot of loss – Mom, and two sons-in-law, Jon and Mark. Other things, too. This probably reinforces the deep pain and I often find myself weeping.
I miss him. Doug. I do. I miss his sense of humor. His intelligence. His craziness. His red-ish hair. His sparkling eyes. A small boy running around with a toothpick between his teeth. He said he was a mosquito. He read, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich in fourth grade. The library let him read most everything. And his creativity. Once, he and friends refocused the electric eyes for the lights around the school so that they would blink on and off. The authorities were not amused, but I sort of was. It could have been much worse. Then the jokes he and his brothers told (and made up) that had us rolling on the floor, almost. Still do. I miss seeing what he might have become if life had been different. We all miss him.
I feel remorse for my parenting inadequacies. What if I had done this? What if I hadn’t done that? This really isn’t helpful. He had issues he couldn’t resolve. I love him.
Grief never completely goes away. It cycles. Something triggers it. It helped when I heard once that grief is love leftover with no place to put it. But grief still comes. Sometimes wailing and sometimes creeping up from a corner of one’s heart with the tears in one’s eyes. Love with no place to go.
“But you, O LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the LORD, and he answers me from his holy hill.” ~ Psalm 3:3-4
One morning, shortly after Doug died, a music box given to me by a friend started to play, “Love Makes the World go ‘Round.” I tried to get it to play by itself again, but it wouldn’t. I knew, though, that he was ok. God has him.
A thought this morning – why did Jesus cry at the tomb of Lazarus? Did he not know that he was about to bring Lazarus back to life? I’m sure he did because of what he told the disciples before they came to pay their respects. John, in The Bible, didn’t try to explain why. It only states the fact in the shortest sentence in the whole of it, “Jesus wept.” Perhaps he had to feel the loss of a dear friend. Perhaps it was empathy for the pain of Lazarus’ sisters and friends. For whatever reason this story tells us that Jesus experienced these very human emotions, too. He knows how we feel.
At the end of our Lenten story we celebrate, on Easter, Jesus’ resurrection. We have promise of our own to come as well as that of our loved ones. But Jesus wept, and in the meantime, so do I. And so do you. It is your experience, too. I think it was last year that a friend sent this to me:
“Grief is a language without words; And so it is untouched by words. Does it help to know that my prayers for you are often wordless too? And shaped like tears.”