Sometimes I tell myself it's a bad idea to be awake this late (or early) because i can get caught up in my own emotions... things can become a bigger deal to me, pain can feel so much more sore and details and memories can overflow your little mind.
But sometimes it's healthy, sometimes we need that time to really FEEL life, to feel what is happening. We need times like that to realize what has happened and how we are dealing with things. It brings out a deep desire to connect dots, to fix broken parts and to really seek God. What is he trying to show me through memories or details? Why are painful times being brought up so frequently?
For me this is grief...
Picture yourself building a sandcastle on a beautiful sandy beach... you have waited a long time to be here, you have persevered many hardships perhaps through problems at work, failed relationships, maybe a long year in school or perhaps just a tough time all around. But you are finally here. The sun is shining, the breeze is cool but not too cool and you cannot wait to build a sandcastle. The waves are calm. You begin to build the best sandcastle you have ever built before. You spend the whole afternoon working on it, back and forth to the water to make sure you had the right amount of water for the moat that goes around the castle that stands almost as big as you. You turn to get some finishing touches for the top of the castle and .... a wave comes in and washes over the entire castle. A furious, fast, unexpected wave. You immediately rush back and try to mend it again before another wave hits... wondering how this could have happened when it had been so calm all day... not one wave anywhere near close enough to reach your castle...or you. Imagine the frustration when you are constantly rebuilding what keeps getting knocked down... no matter how much you try to fix it... it just isn't working!
(i know it may be a really weird random mental picture but it works for me)
Sometimes I feel thats what grief feels like. You have fought such a hard battle, tried to hide your emotions but also openly cried out too many times. You have overcome what you feel was the hardest part of her being gone.... but then it hits you. It hits you hard like a big hard knuckle to your face! It hurts!
Tonight I was going through some old messages and journal posts between my mother in law and her struggle through breast cancer. Some of you may think it's a strange thing to do but I do it a lot actually. I look at the few pictures I have of her. I remember what it was like when I first met her the night I arrived in on a 9 hour bus drive from DC... I was stinky, tired, nervous and brand new to America. She welcomed me and hugged me like she had known me forever. Clearly she was amazing at first impressions ;) I thought back to the christian music festival where I first met Peter. I remember that excitement and attraction i had for him. That whole week that God handcrafted knowing what we would go through and where we would end up.
I remember the whole week I kept thinking Peter was talking to 'his girlfriend' because he seemed to be on the phone a lot... and always talked so kindly, gently and lovingly! Little did I know it was his Mother. One thing i will always remember is how INVOLVED she was with each and every one of her children! She sacrificed so much for them and taught them how to be true gentlemen! I remember thinking that too when i met pete ;)
I will remember the movie nights I had with her, little tiny moments I got with her to get to know her heart, her life, her past... everything. She offered me encouragement when I felt alone in a new country... brand new culture and new people. She offered me insight when I couldnt see past my own confusing mind.
I remember the night I got home from work when i was staying with them... The family were all gathered... this was the night we were all told she had breast cancer. I remember hugging her like I never had before. I literally began just obsessively thinking about every possible ending and trial in between. I had never known someone and loved someone like this who was ill like this... what if I lost her? The woman who was quickly becoming a close friend and hopefully someday, mother in law.
I remember watching a movie with her and Peter that night... we were on each side of her and i just rested my head on her shoulder.... still having thoughts everywhere I just stayed silent and enjoyed the closeness I had right that moment with her.
I remember the night before. I slept terribly and had been having such bad dreams. One in particular was about these wolves attacking me and chasing me through these woods... it was so scary and felt so real. I came downstairs that morning feeling weird. You know that weird, surreal feeling when you wake up suddenly from a super intense dream and for the first couple hours you feel like a pretend person? I came down and Mrs M was sitting in her special chair... I told her my bad dream right away... I remember she hugged me tightly and told me it was ok, several times and said it was just a dream.
Later that morning I left for work. I told her I would see her later as i headed out the door.
Several hour later I got a text from pete telling me his Mum had been rushed to hospital but he didn't know anything else... my heart began to beat a little faster. I thought to myself, "what if this is it? what if this happens to us all? I was nannying a young child at the time and the Mother was nearby thank goodness. I told her the text and was shaking... I called Peter... he was hysterical. He just kept saying 'She's gone bethany, she's gone... she's gone." I kept asking him to repeat what he was saying... hoping it would change and that maybe he meant she had just gone to the hospital or maybe gone into emergency surgery.
I left and got right in my car, i had a cheap worship cd in my car that had been playing that morning... I put it on and called my Mum on speaker. I had never shaken like that before, i could barely keep my hands on the wheel... I told my Mum what peter had told me on the phone and was sobbing... I drove to the hospital.
I got there to a room where everyone was. Pete met me in the hallway and we embraced each other. We hugged like we never had before. We cried so hard... could not contain it. Not even time to realize what had just happened. Crying was all I could do.
I remember sitting there in the room with her and a few of the family members... I stared, and hoped that maybe she might still sit up and 'be' again. She was lying there.... why wasnt she getting up.. it was meant to be like any other day... not this day, not the kind of day you hear about. We were living this. And it was scary.
Then I remember the day at the funeral... Someone hugged me and I remember just balling my eyes out... that cry when you literally cannot stop it or hide it... it just wouldn't stop. I cried and hurt so bad.... she would never see me walk down the aisle, she wouldnt be able to help me plan my someday wedding we talked about... she would not get to help make my wedding dress. My mother in law was gone. What a day...
It's now been 3 years since she has been gone and I can honestly say missing her never ends.... it gets easier to handle at times... but then out of nowhere I am overcome with these incredible emotions and this heartache.
There is this deep, deep pain that just makes you stop doing life for a bit.
Then i think about her. I remember how she handled problems, how she faced hardships. I remember how much she really did fight the entire journey. Never once did she stop trusting that God was with her every step of the way.
I found this to quote from one of her journal entries
"My confidence in my medical team has been shaken but my faith that God is still in control has not."
She showed such strength and perseverance. She lived her life as a devoted wife, devoted godly Mother, caring, compassionate friend to so so many! She touched so many lives.
What a legacy! We have such a great example set before us. I have no doubt that she is up there dancing in the heavens in Jesus glorious presence. Away from pain, away from suffering, away from this crooked, painful world.
She is filled with goodness and light!
"Find rest, O my soul' in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken." Psalm 62:5,6