I was supposed to attend a funeral today. A memorial service for a family who lost their little girl last week. She was a beautiful 13-year-old, a hurting soul who just couldn’t do this life anymore, and left a broken-hearted family behind. I wanted to go to the service and stand with the rest of the community, stand and honor her life and her parents and her siblings. But it’s been snowing for two days now and I couldn’t make it to the church. So while a family is weeping with their fresh wrenching grief, I’m snowed in at home with my little babies.
It was a strange morning. As the clocked turned to 11:00 a.m. and I knew the church was probably coming to a hush as someone stood in front to open their time together, I imagined preparing a funeral for one of my children. I shivered at the thought of our greatest nightmare as moms and dads. I cried and prayed for that hurting family. I sat on the floor and stared at my own kids, tearfully kissing their hair and their eyes and their feet and the middle of their chests where their precious hearts beat away. I am broken and thankful and afraid, all at once, in this warm glove of my house. Thankful for motherhood. Broken with fresh grief. Afraid in the vulnerability of parental love.
Bent in prayer for a family bent in pain.
The older I get, the more often tragedy seems to seep into my awareness. Am I just more conscious of it all? Am I simply paying more attention? Why is it all so bad all the time? How can we operate under all of this uncertainty, under the constant strain of inevitable catastrophes that threaten to consume us whole? How can we go on like this?
I don’t know. The world outside is covered in six inches of fresh snow, the reality of my neighborhood now cloaked as foreign shapes, softened edges. You could get lost in the frozen unknown of it all. The thing is, we are going on. I’m packing for a trip. My sister is preparing a Christmas song for children’s church. Sam is out buying a snow shovel. My friends, these sweet people who love their kids so much, are posting pictures of their families in squishy nylon coats, their cheeks pink and cold, playing happily outside. The world is turning and turning, and good things are still happening, and the snow is still falling too. We are going on.
Truth: I don’t know how we can go on like this. How we keep breathing, despite the bad news, despite the funerals, despite the catastrophes. All I know for certain (this is it, this is truly it) is that I put my hope in a Savior. In the God of my heart and the God of everything I know to be true and pure. In the God who lets the snow fall and lets the sun shine and has never, ever, abandoned me or any of us. That’s it. That’s all I know. And that’s the only way I can go on.
Come heal this world, Jesus. It’s too much sometimes, it really really is.
In light of grief; I wrote this essay below after my friend Jimmy died last year. It seemed like the kind of day to share it again.
Thinking of your beautiful Camille today, Corey.
THIS IS HOW YOU GRIEVE.