On Saturday a near 20-month old girl’s short life was celebrated. It was a different sort of funeral. She was the daughter of friends of ours. She lovingly belonged to parents who now don’t have a daughter. The parents found out over a year ago that she had Krabbe which is a certain early death sentence. The parents made the most out of their time with her, even creating a bucket list of things every daughter should be able to do. Tori saw the Grand Canyon, built a Build-a-Bear, was a bridesmaid, jumped in puddles. The list is extensive.
Tori died peacefully Easter morning. If there is a time to die, this would be the day. The day we celebrate that death no longer has victory over us. But there is still loss.
Now these parents begin their new life, one without their daughter. As they so bravely shared in their blog post the day after Tori’s death, “We cannot express how stressful the past few months have been at times, as caring for her became increasingly intense and she began having ‘episodes’ of turning slightly blue on occasion. Overall she was doing well still, but there were moments of panic in the last month. It is going to take months to recover from the level of stress we have lived on.” (Read the entire post.)
Pain is the beginning.
What comes next?
The daily grind towards the new normal. Every day you decide to live in the day becomes one more day you gain towards the healing of the pain.
You will wake up. You will have to face the choice—
will you numb today
or will you embrace the day as fear-filled
or as overwhelmingly sad
or as stacked-against-you
or as mundane as it is.
Will you say to yourself,
Good morning, God.
Today I am going to feel.
Today I am going to feel joy.
And when I want to add a “but” or an “if” or feel like I’m unworthy to have joy,
I’m going to stop and breath and say, “I am worthy of feeling joy.”
Today I am going to feel pain.
I realize life hurts, love hurts.
Instead of distracting the pain with numbing behaviors,
I’m deciding to feel it.
Not wallow in it,
to feel it and live.
You are with me in the pain.
Today I am going to feel.
Because you are with me, my expectation is your presence.
I get to live beyond human limitations
Because you are with me.
I will trust you in today’s sunshine.
I will trust you in today’s rain.
Today is going to be an adventure.
(A .pdf version of this prayer is available here.)
You will face the holy tension of righteous anger at God, working through the “supposed-to’s” of your life, all the unanswered questions, and the uncomfortableness that such a sucky time brings. You will work through this tension and find that it will be holy.
Because this is true every time, The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23. Or this favorite of mine, Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5b) Every time. Every morning.
You can do this. Every day. Be brave.
And know that you are not alone.