I come to this space, finally- a white space in my day that feels so familiar, and I'm rusty. My words aren't coming like they used to. I'm dry.
As I look at my hands on the keyboard just now, I notice a silver ring on my right thumb. She said it symbolizes "hope," and I can't help but think about a weekend only two short months ago.
My aunt was dying.
Trevor and I flew out to see her, to say goodbye. The cancer moved quickly, and I still didn't really believe that she would actually be gone. How can a part of what makes you who you are just cease to be?
I had no idea what to expect. My experience with death, especially the death of a loved one, is so limited yet. I'd never visited a deathbed, not like this.
And so we went, and I was afraid, and when we got there- to that sacred place- everything was different.
I still can't really even explain it. All I know is that the presence of God was heavy in that place, in that house I'd visited so many times before, at the table where I'd eaten breakfasts and good cheese and Easter lunch. He lingered in the bedrooms, filled with shelves heavy with books about theology and travel and human nature.
I felt Him there, in the thin veil between earth and eternity.
It was so hard, so full of grief and sadness, but also so wonderful. There was nothing to do- we all just sat together- sometimes talking, sometimes silent. We played Scrabble and did word searches and just sat and held hands. It was like time didn't exist, like the whole world was encompassed in that house.
Sometimes I wake up in the night and catch the ending of a dream about it- just a lingering feeling from that place.
And then we came back.
Back to the "real world" where the phone rings and the emails have to be answered and the urgent takes precedence over the meaningful. I threw myself back into work, into the details, into being needed not for who I am but for what I can accomplish in a day.
But as I write this, I'm realizing that grief is slow. That losing her changed me and I haven't really come to grips with it. I find myself longing for that holy quiet, the weight of God heavy in the room.
When she was diagnosed, I remember praying that I was afraid. I was afraid that I'd lose her, and even more than that, I was afraid that losing her would mean losing my faith.
And when she was finally gone, finally out of pain, finally free from it all, I knew my faith remained- intact, but different.
It's different. And I'm not sure I'm ready to talk to God about it- about all the questions I still have, about how His plans look so different from what I wanted. Hope is nothing like I thought it would be, and I can't reconcile it, can't talk about it just yet.
But then I didn't have to.
Winter started and work got busy and I didn't have time. I just didn't have time to do the deep digging into my heart that this grief requires, so I put it aside. But now, without the excuse of insanely busy to keep me distracted, something feels empty.
Not only do I miss her - I dream about the things I should tell her, the things I should ask her, and wake up with the ache of knowing that I won't get to say those things until I also go to glory- but I also miss that heavenly heavy.
The feeling of the presence of God thick in the room. The moment to moment breathing Him in, taking in the grace and strength that only He can give.
I've traded it in. I've given it up, pushed it aside to make room for busy and distraction.
Instead of bowing low and still in the holy, I have been standing up straight and moving moving moving to get it all done.
Instead of feeling the hunger that makes every bitter thing sweet, I've been filling my appetite with noise and grasping after wind.
And now that the urgent needs have quieted down and life returns to its former pace, I miss Him. I miss that intense intimacy of needing Him desperately and seeking His face in the middle of the pain. I miss knowing His voice in my heart and believing it, clinging to it.
I know He's still right here, closer than a heartbeat. But reaching out feels a little like calling a friend I haven't talked to since high school- so much has changed, and what do I say? And without realizing it, the busyness has turned into the perfect way to avoid Him, to avoid digging in and doing the work of this relationship. We haven't had time to go to church, to listen to sermons, to learn and lean into Bible study.
But I don't want this dryness, and I don't want this silence. I miss Him.
So I've started back in the place where I feel most comfortable- in the blessings.
For a month now I've been finding, counting, but I've been missing the biggest part. The whispered words of gratitude, the thanksgiving that's so central to this thing.
I'm coming back to it, and opening up the conversation again with the God who has never stopped giving good things to me.
Thank You for the fluffy snowflakes falling outside
Thank You for this man lying beside me
Thank You for the smooth apple skin
Thank You for this friend who loves me well
I can feel Him pursuing me, calling me back to that place where I feel Him moment to moment, breath to breath.
And it feels like hope.
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