*note. I am sorry if you’re coming here to read about my Smoochie girl or some other hijinks. When I sit down to write this is all that’s in me. It won’t last forever. But here I am. And here you are.
There is something so lonely about grief. In a room full of people, full with heavy hearts and downcast eyes, there is an impossible kind of lacking that somehow accompanies such an overwhelming gloom. We come together; we dig through a table full of pictures; we cradle bouquets of flowers, run our fingers down the sharp crease of program papers, read the order of service and prepare our hearts for a time of weighted sorrow. We gather in crowds, in rows, in microcosms of times and places that represent a person and his life; we gather and we hold each other up in our grief, we sigh and stretch the muscles of our devastation against handshakes and hugs. We sing, we listen, we nod, we laugh, we crumple tissues against our raw noses and in our clenched fists, we swell and shrink in our tender, tired bones.
And then we leave.
We get in our cars and we drive away. Maybe we keep our programs, or maybe we don’t. Maybe we cry the rest of the day, or maybe we take our kids to play at the park. Maybe we lost a friend. Or maybe we lost a brother. Or a son.
Or a husband.
There are layers of grieving, I think, even more than there are stages. For some, these layers are thin. Painful, but translucent in their presentation. For others, they are so deep, so intricate, it will take years to sort them out, a lifetime to peel them back and examine their meaning, their demands.
Some of us have leaflets.
Some of us have volumes.
Either way, grief is lonely.
And every time I get in my car and make my way home, away from Cass, away from the epicenter of my mourning, that loneliness threatens to gobble me up, quietly and completely.
It’s been good to be together these last few weeks. If Jimmy left anything behind (and seriously, that guy left a lot behind) he left a trail of community that he and Cassidy have been building their entire lives. This is a testament to the impact of Jimmy’s lifestyle: even in death, he is bringing people together. But still,
We have to finish this grieving by ourselves. We need each other to get through this-
we probably wouldn’t survive outside of this connection of hurt-
but when the party is over and midterms are due and babies need fed and we have to see our boss on Monday morning, we will have to keep moving.
As much as I’d like the world to stop for one damn minute and let my friend melt in her sadness, let me wallow in my fears of an inadequate life and of losing anyone else I love, the world most certainly will not stop. It will spin on its unforgiving axis and stay faithful to its orbit around the sun, and time will tick on and on and on.
I want to protect Cassidy and Jim and Roseanna and Xochitl from this, somehow. I want to build a bubble that time cannot penetrate and let them grieve in peace, let them figure out just how they are supposed to live in a world where Jimmy doesn’t walk beside them, or call to say goodnight, or laugh at their jokes. Let them ease into this new space that Jimmy doesn’t inhabit, and let them do it at their own pace, with their own coping mechanisms in their own time.
Instead, tomorrow will come too soon.
School will come.
Work will come.
Life will come.
There is not a thing I can do about this inevitable season shifting, and for some reason
this makes me feel
Grief is tricky, you guys. It spreads like a virus, a potent and invisible line of change that settles in at a cellular level. And for me, lately, grief is an overwhelming presence that still leaves me inexplicably alone.
The hope that I have-
the hope that directs my weary prayers-
is that Jesus knows my pain. He knows the loneliness of grief more than I could ever comprehend, and He has not left me alone in this place.
He has not left Jimmy’s dear family.
He has not left our Cassidy.
I cannot build a bubble around the people I love. I can’t even try. But I can trust, and I WILL trust, that God will see them through this devastation. That the same God who gave us Jimmy Watts, the same God who Jimmy Watts knew and loved, has not left us. So even when grief is quiet and lonely, I am not alone. Even when grief is a sneaky painful virus, it cannot defeat the goodness of our King.
I’ll try to rest in that today.