A month ago today, my dear friend lost her twelve-year-old son unexpectedly. He went to bed one Friday night in September with a cold, and the next morning, he didn’t wake up.
In my life, I have been shielded, so far, from debilitating griefs like this one. Loss is an ocean, and I am out of my depth as I try to tread this dark water with my friend. I don’t know how to “walk through this” with her, and I’m starting to hate that phrase — as if there is any “getting through” this kind of thing at all. As if I could do this “with” her — as if this were anything but the loneliest kind of grief.
Still, I’m learning to show up in the unknowing. To have the courage to talk and to ask — even if it means I say the wrong things more often than I say the right ones. Most mornings, all I can do is clasp my own remembrance necklace around my neck to remind me to hold the empty space. To remind me to pray. To remind me of Jack.
Today is the one-month anniversary of Jack’s death. Today I’d like to share the piece I wrote for his funeral. This is the best way I know how to join my friends in their pain, to make space, to remember.
If this was your plan, God, it’s a lousy one.
There. I said it.
What sense could there be in taking a healthy twelve-year-old while he sleeps? Contrary to the sympathy cards with their pastel colors and cursive sentiments, I do not believe you needed another angel in your heaven – filled as it is already with so many we have loved and lost.
You were there, God, in the moment Jack stepped from this world to the next, and you did not stop it, did not intervene, did not give us the miracle – and we want to know: What master plan would make this all okay?
You have plunged us into an ocean of grief, and we find ourselves confused and angry, pitched back and forth by questions with no answers. Why and why and why?
Here in this place, Hope feels as small and flimsy as a piece of driftwood.
Let it be enough.
Remind us that, in fact, your plan is not death, not death, never death – only ever redemption. That in spite of all of this grief, you have always been about repairing what was broken, returning what was lost, making things right.
Let this be the solid thing that we cling to, a raft that carries us through the grief. Where there are no answers, Lord, let your Love be the Answer, strong enough to hold the full weight of our anger. Our pain. Our broken, bleeding hearts.
If we’re being honest here, God, Heaven seems like a cheap consolation prize for an empty twin bed, Lightning MacQueen sheets still rumpled and waiting.
Teach us to lie still, our backs against the sturdy raft of incomprehensible hope and look to the sky.
Show us the stars as they come out, both visible and invisible, pinpricks of light scattered across the whole of the dark. Lighting it just a little, just enough. Let those stars be signposts that point us to that foreign city where all is being made right, where we will find each other again.
May heaven become real in our hearts – that place where Jack is running, where Love is winning, where that terrible machine of Pain and Death is being dismantled, finally, one piece at a time.
You are standing at finish line that is also a starting gate. Teary-eyed, open-armed, waving that checkered flag. Calling us home.