Saturday, March 12, 2016

RAMBLINGS ON GRIEF

A few weeks ago, we did a double dinner date with some friends.  Our waiter was extra chatty, and in the course of our evening, he realized that I'm not a big wine person.  He decided to recommend a sweet wine that he thought I would enjoy and handed the name to me on a scrap of receipt paper.

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I glanced at it, and then I stared.  His handwriting was eerily similar to my father's, and a wave of missing rushed through me.  This time of year, I am often surprised by the little jogs of grief that will come.  It looks so very different than it did years ago when the pain was fresh and new.  But, my whole body seems to remember this season.

It was spring as I watched my father fade away from us.

It was a spring break that was our last family vacation all together, and even then, my dad did not have much energy.

It was Easter weekend when I last really spoke to my dad, because his decline was rapid in the next couple of weeks, and I was not there for most of the end until the very end.

I still love the spring, because of the flowers and the freshness and my birthday and the unexpected and long-desired warmth.  But there are shadows in it for me now - reminders that this world is not my home.  The spring rain seems to say some of those words for me - the gloom contrasting the sunshine and brightness twisted so tightly with the coming of warmer weather.

Though I don't expect the sadness, it always returns in some form or another, though usually pretty mild now that its been 13 years.  I've thought and written a lot about how my dad's passing changed my life forever and how much God has used it to shape me.  I will always miss him, but I don't fault God's plan for the hole there.  God has shown me time and again that he will fill in the gaps in ways that I can't imagine.

And while I would pick in a heartbeat to have my dad here, there is some joy in a preserved memory. I don't idealize or idolize who my father was, but I get to keep him a little sacred, because we don't deal in present realities.

Present realities are much messier - even when they're good.  I've recently had a front row seat to a lot of family pain - both personally and with friends' families.  It is so much harder than I want it to be.  People get hurt.  People are sick.  People make mistakes, and the fall out from each of those things is really painful.

It all leaves me wanting more of the Lord.  I need him to work in my heart, because the love I have on my own falls far short of what I need for those in my life.  And in many ways, I'm jealous that my father has already left all of this behind.  I'm so thankful that we can look forward to a place where we will see clearly and be known and loved fully just as we are.  What a joy that will be!

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