If you’ve been following us, then you know March has been a rough one this year. The lead-up to the anniversary of Mark’s death has been much more difficult than I ever could have imagined. To help us cope, we decided on a trip to Chicago for Spring Break this year. If you follow me on Facebook, you already know this. If you don’t follow me on Facebook, you should. Like the Extra Grace Required page here. Anyway, we spent time with family, took in the sites, visited Shedd Aquarium and ate lots of food not on my diet.
Overall, our poor man’s getaway (not a warm beach destination) was a great idea. It was a welcome distraction from all the terrible feelings. It was good to spend time with people who love us and invest in intentional fun.
After a week of fun and family, we drove home last weekend. It’s always good to be home after being away, and yet that unsettled and heavy feeling of unrest was back upon me once we returned. Yesterday I realized why. Although I love our home and most of our memories with Mark happened here, it doesn’t feel like “home” anymore. And the truth is, nowhere feels like home anymore, because home is where Mark is. Because he’s not here, it’s just really hard to feel love, comfort, safety, peace. Now there’s just a hollowed out feeling in it’s place and that causes unrest. Even if we moved and started fresh, I think I would still feel an obvious void of completion. I hope time heals this emptiness, although I’m not sure it will. Perhaps we will just learn how to live on with the empty space in our hearts. Maybe the wound heals in time but the scar that’s left just becomes a permanent part of who we are.
I really love C.S. Lewis and pretty much everything he ever wrote. You know that question – if you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would you choose? He’s definitely one of my three people. In his book, “A Grief Observed,” he likens grief to an amputation.
“Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he’s had his leg off it is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over it.’ But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again. ” — C S Lewis – excerpts from “A Grief Observed”
His words resonate profoundly with me. I believe I am just now realizing that “I shall never be a biped again.” And with that realization comes new, intense and painful grief. It brings a fresh wave of homesickness and disorientation. And it feels terrible. It’s like I don’t even know who I am without him! He was part of me!
Romans Chapter 8 comes to mind as I work through all of this. The waiting, the anticipation is building the longer I grieve. I value my life and trust there’s purpose for it. I want to embrace it and fulfill whatever the plan is for my life. But the labor pains of this life are building. I’m only going to quote a portion of Romans 8, but trust me – read ALL of it. It’s some of the Bible’s best.
“All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” Romans 8:26-28
I’m thankful there’s an end to this pregnant condition someday. I’m so grateful God’s Spirit can take my aching groans and wordless sighs and deliver them to God as the prayers I’m not currently able to form into a decipherable petition. And I’m so glad He’s with me.
He’s with you too, you know. I hope that brings you the comfort and reassurance it is bringing me today.
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