Today while sitting in the emergency room with my mother, who is again struggling with the healing time that is required when you have pneumonia, I realized I just felt totally drained.
Its been a while since I felt that drained, at the very least since I myself was sick with that in June, but this time it was a kind of emotional draining I have not felt in a time much longer than that.
We had a lot happen around here–what with my mom getting ill and going in the hospital, to our Grandma going into hospice and then passing away, and now this week with funeral and family things.
The kids are showing it too, crying jags, and getting up in the middle of the night…my oldest breaking into tears at random times throughout the day, just like her mother.
Lets be honest, grief is messy.
Its not something you can plan on, not something you can box up and wrap with a pretty bow, taking it out and dealing with it when you feel like it, or for an occasional glimpse now and then.
Its walking around with a feeling like some days its just a dull ache, and other days like someone has ripped your heart out, and is constantly poking it with a red hot poker.
It is crazy how it will come out of nowhere and smack you upside the head, stunning you with the force with which it hits you. Or even worse, in my opinion, is when you think you finally have a grip and are having a good day, and then all of a sudden it sneaks up on you and grips you so tight you think you wont be able to breathe again.
That happened to me this week many times, but I would like to share a few of them with you, perhaps to find solace, or even for someone to read this, grieving on their own, and know you are not alone.
Bad Moment Number one: Driving up to the funeral home for the first visitation, and realizing this would be the last time I would see her face, or have the opportunity to hold her hand. That always hurts.Â
Bad moment Number two: Opening a page of the paper and seeing her face in the obituary section. I still get a tight feeling in my chest when I even think about that one coming out of the blue and smacking me. Call it naive, but I was just reading the paper thinking it was randomly set on the table.Â
Until I saw that.
Bad Moment Number three: the final walk past the casket and watching my dear husband lay his favorite duck call in the casket with her, his hands shaking.
Bad moment number four: trying to eat while corralling two two-year-olds, and feeling like I am choking down ashes.
Bad moment number five: When the door closes on the back of the hearse and you realize the finality of it all.
Worst moment of all, and ALWAYS the hardest for me when it is someone I love, is walking away from the grave site.
When we buried our son, my husband carried me.
When we buried his grandmother, we helped one another walk away.
And there were so many more, but to go through each one
would fill a book.
And some things are better left unwritten.
I always have a hard time when people who say because we are believers that we ‘should not grieve like the pagans (unbelievers) do’. In my mind I understand that is somehow supposed to comfort us, to remind us that we have hope in the midst of suffering the pain. I get it, really I do. But for some reason, it irritates me too, just a little bit. I have had the greatest misfortune to learn since a young age that everyone dies, and all those I love will eventually pass away since I have buried a son, lost 12 babies who were desperately wanted, buried a father to suicide, and now have lost three women in my life who were incredibly dear and wonderful influences.
Losing someone you love is never easy. It hurts…..sometimes so much you almost cant catch your breath.
And yes, knowing that person walking with the Lord,
knowing they are free from all the things that made their lives difficult
here on earth,Â does, in some ways,
make it easier to bear their passing some days. I will still miss their smiles across the table at holidays, or their loving phone calls. In the case of this dear grandma, I will miss the crazy cards I always got for almost any occasion, where it was an exercise in patience and analytical thinking just to try to follow from one page to the next (thank God she numbered her pages, or I would be still be trying to figure out last year’s birthday card). Â I will miss the woman who, from the moment I married her grandson, adopted me as her own, and made me a very real part of the family. All of a sudden I had cousins, and aunts and uncles…..I had a Grandma who wanted to kiss me on the cheek (major comfort zone infraction for this independent western girl).
I had so many new things that I had always longed for, and it was a beautiful thing.
When I lost my first child at birth, only weeks from being full term, and became a broken, walking zombie for a couple of years, she was one of my champions. She called, she wrote letters,she talked about my son….even when everyone else forgot, she didn’t. She hung his picture on the wall, reminded me he shared a birthday with George (her husband who died many years before), and told me she was sure that George was teaching him to duck hunt in Heaven. Even to the day she passed away I knew that my son was Someone in her life, and she made sure no-one forgot it, to the point he was mentioned in her obituary. For a mamma who lost something so precious far too soon, it still means the world to me, and always will. It means that Heaven gets better and better and better as time goes on, and I cant imagine the glory of not just being with Jesus, but all those my heart has longed for as the years pass.
The funeral this week was also moving as one at a time, people from all walks of life, and all times of her life, stood up and shared that she had done the same thing with them. Whether for a moment, or for a span of a lifetime, she had opened her doors, warmly welcomed them in, and adopted them into her family. My heart aches that my youngest children will not grow up knowing her as my oldest did, or have the opportunity to get stickers in the mail, messy kisses, or those loud and crazy phone calls at any time of the day. They wont be told that “girls hunt too”, or that thunder was “just Grandpa George shooting the ducks”, or open letters written every which way but unfailingly dated and signed “Love, Hugs, and Kisses”…or many of a thousand things that we just took for granted.
And that hurts. A lot.
A long time ago when a very dear friend passed away, I had a dream. I was walking down a hallway to a room just bare and empty except for one wall, which was covered with a thin glass mirror, much like you see in the “cry rooms” at churches (or if you have had the dubious distinction of being questioned by the police—in their interrogation rooms when you are rather on the wrong side of the law). The wall reflected me walking across the room, but the closer I got, the more I realized that there were other people on the other side of the thin glass. In my dream, I had I brought my children with me (I actually had four children at the time in my dream–and that was before I had kids at all!), and as I stood there looking into the glass trying to see the people, I glanced to my left where my children had wandered.
All of a sudden, it was like the glass became more transparent, and I could see my children placing their hands on the glass……..and other people, leaning down, putting their hands on the glass to match.
I guess that is how I see Heaven and our daily lives.
We can only see our reflections now as there is that thin line between the lives we live here on Earth, and the glory that waits for us in Heaven, as believers. It seems like so long to us, but really is just a short time away in the grand scheme of things.
And with each loved and precious friend or family member that is placed in the hands of God,
the balance shifts until the last thread is broken,
and we are on the other side …
It is bitter sweet, to love the Lord, and lose those you love here on Earth, while knowing they are with Jesus, free from pain and suffering here on earth.
I just pray that someday, when a group of those that loved me,
and cared for me in this world,Â are gathered together to say good bye,
that I have half the legacy that our dear Grandma Bea had in the lives that she touched.
May my arms always be open to welcome those who need a place to belong.
May my lips never fail to encourage, to champion a broken heart, or point someone to the way Everlasting.
May my fingers never stop writing those little notes that can mean so much to someone who doesn’t receive encouragement often.
May my heart always be drawn to home, and to those that God has blessed me with as MY family for my life…and may I never miss the opportunity to tell them how much I love them and care for them.
Grandma Bea Pieh………you were one in a million, and I am so thankful for the 17 years I knew and belonged to you. I am sure one of the first people you sought out was that grandson that you never got to meet, and mourned over, and made sure no one ever forgot.
Love, Hugs, and Kisses while I am letting Jesus wipe away the tears,