laying down my whys
Once again, another year, another anniversary. And as I have for the past eleven years, I will lay down beneath the olive tree at your graveside. This is the closest I can get to what was you. The only part of your precious self, left here on earth.
I shudder to think of the reality of what is underneath me. Instead, I will close my eyes, face to the sky, arms spread wide on this grassy slope and remember you…and the thirty-three years we shared together.
If I could turn back time, I would cuddle you in my arms and watch you sleep. I would hold your soft, slippery arms and bathe you with the most tender care. I could cherish the long, sleepless nights by your sick bed, watching you breathe. I would wait more patiently for the fever to break and your lungs to clear.
If only I had written down each special conversation we had and not assumed I would never forget.
I’ve forgotten so many.
I think I have written these things to you before. Oh well. Most mothers have the tendency to repeat themselves. Like a Dickensian character, I’m destined to visit and revisit these ghosts of the past.
I would hold your hand more tightly and relish the middle of the night disturbances when you’d crawl into our antique full-sized bed.
I want to feel your cheek on mine.
What I would give right now, just to be able to hear your voice erupt in laughter in the next room. To watch you sitting at our kitchen table drawing.
I would take more pictures of you…because you were the better photographer, we don’t have too many of you.
I never got enough of seeing you proudly carrying baby Stella high on your shoulders. There was not enough time.
I want to observe your profile, laser-focused behind the camera lens, shooting close-ups of beautiful, random textures of sand, stone, paint.
I want that phone call. I want another beautiful (or funny) handmade birthday card, Mother’s Day card, a new Christmas card design.
I am losing you with each passing year.
The details are lost, even the fading memories too few. I’m tired of looking at the same photos frozen in time.
I have my comforts. Others who, like me, have said final goodbyes to a beloved. By conversations and in books, and of course the Scriptures, they have poured into my heart. I realize I should be stronger by now. Missing a loved one is part of living in this world of waiting, caught between the already and not-yet.
C.S. Lewis had this beautiful poem inscribed on the tombstone of his wife, Joy.
Here the whole world
(stars, water, air, and field and forest as they were reflected in a single mind)
Like cast off clothes was left behind
In ashes, yet with hope that she
Reborn from holy poverty,
In Lenten lands, hereafter may
Resume them on her Easter Day.
It’s a strange, wonderful, frightening journey we are on.
For some headed to a destination that will be the best reunion imaginable. And all the days we’ve missed…well, they will not feel painful at all, but only serve as fuel to make the welcome of heaven even more blissfully wonderful than it would be had we not suffered the pain of losing you.
Sooner or later, we must realize that there are really only two options. You are bereaving someone or you yourself are being bereaved.
Jesus prepared us for this reality. “Now you have sorrow, but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22).
So I lay my “whys” down.
At times, my mind is numb, my heart almost past feeling. But whether I can see or not…I will choose to worship. And wait.