There have been quite a few people who have asked me if writing has helped with the grieving process and without hesitation I’ve said yes. It doesn’t take the pain away by any means, but it helps bring some clarity to the turmoil and assures me I’m not going crazy.
Like any endeavor though, it has had its ups and downs but the rewards have been worth it. Sometimes writing a blog entry was easy because the purpose was to capture a thought, insight, or experience that I didn’t want to forget. Other times it was a bit of a struggle because the purpose was to find clarity in the chaos through writing it out and it was grueling work that took hours. These last couple weeks though that clarity has remained illusive even after five failed entry attempts and thousands of deleted words.
Yesterday Steve and Michelle came for an afternoon visit and while the guys were out walking off Marc’s yummy chocolate cake, Michelle patiently listened while I tried yet again to explain what it was I was desperately trying to capture that was so illusive. But it wasn’t really until after a long late night talk with Marc that clarity finally graced me with her presence and offered sweet relief! I would have managed to get some sleep finally too except Zoe came down with a sudden cold and was up every hour.
During our time together, I was telling him that one thing I’ve noticed a lot, even long before Bernadette died, is that so many parents who have lost a child find a mission. Candy Lightner lost her 13-year-old daughter to a hit-and-run drunk driver and started M.A.D.D. Lynda Cheldelin Fell who lost her 15-year-old daughter in a car accident started the Grief Diaries series. A lot of parents throw themselves into organizations like Compassionate Friends to help other parents who are suffering through the same grief as they are. Even he has a mission – turning his passion for creating sandcastles into an awareness and fundraising campaign for the Hospice Society. He asked me if I felt I had found a mission too and I said yes, to share the love of God. The shocked look on his face was priceless. He was like, What! You just lost your child, you’ve experienced unimaginable suffering and have battled with God ever since Bernadette died and you want to share His love? I don’t get it. I did NOT see that one coming!
So I reminded him that for the last eighteen months I’ve primarily been writing about my faith journey intertwined with grief. Plus we both have consistently talked about experiencing the love of God when Bernadette was sick. There have been so many times when he’s shared that he felt incredibly privileged and touched to witness the love of God as he watched me do everything in my power to care for and love Bernadette in her last days. Whereas for me, I was experiencing it through the realization that the love I had for Bernadette came from God.
All those moments, when I’d realize that the love I had for Bernadette came from being made in God’s image and likeness and mirrored in a small way His love for us, reached their summit that night just days before Bernadette died when I was down on my knees in utter agony, tears streaming down my face, begging God for a miracle and to have mercy on us. It was at that moment, when I knew with every fiber of my being that I would suffer absolutely anything – eagerly and joyfully – if it meant Bernadette would live, that the veil was lifted for a split second and I was given a glimpse into God’s heart as Father. It was almost as if He was saying, “Me too!” and I understood that my love for Bernadette in that moment of sheer agony again mirrored His infinite love poured out for us through Jesus’ suffering and death on the Cross so that we might live!
I had to explain to him that even though that revelation was powerful when it happened and was quickly overshadowed by Bernadette’s death and the agony of the months that followed, it was never forgotten and it was like a spark that over the months turned into a tiny flame which has continued to grow and is becoming more and more a consuming fire. It is burning away the rubble from my fallen house of cards and is showing me what’s important and what’s not.
It was at that point when that allusive realization I was trying so hard to capture seemed to come into focus. I’ve been using the analogy of being sucked into the middle of the ocean for the last eighteen months and how over time I’ve been given sticks, string, and a rudder to build a raft so I wouldn’t drown. But this burning fire, what is it? Is it a beacon to give me direction so I steer my raft to it’s shore? Is it the sail that is capturing the wind so my raft is finally moving towards that new shore? Or is it the wind? Is it a purpose? I just don’t know. All I do know is that the fire is definitely purifying!
This morning I was still thinking about the shocked look on Marc’s face last night and I realized that what I was saying really was a total about-face from my struggle with God since Bernadette’s death. A chill went up and down my spine. All this time, I keep coming back to that moment of God’s “Me too!” revelation and now I think I understand what it was. Among other things it was like a vaccine in the sense that it prevented a terrible disease of distrust and anger towards God from destroying my soul! The Father must have known I needed a lot of extra help for the inoculation to be so intense.
The same way that one vaccine shot can hold multiple vaccines in them, I can see God’s “Me too!” being a supercharged vaccine on multiple levels that will take so many years to even remotely appreciate its full impact.