Grief is a peculiar thing. It sneaks up on you when you least expect it, creeping into your consciousness through images and hidden memories come to life.
You see his picture on your phone – the same picture you see every time you open it – but this time, it surprises you to see him again. A dream awakens you in the early morning hours with a start because it was so real. You’re sure he’s back.
You look at his side of the bed to find the pillows and blankets in the same position as when you finally fell asleep last night and the night before. Still, you imagine him there, sleepy eyes opening to see you, his hand reaching over to touch you, to calm your fears.
Grief jerks you into reality.
Like a little girl awakened from a bad dream, you slip out of bed, eyes straining to adjust to the harsh light of day. You look for something familiar to propel you past the shadows looming across the floor. You put on his robe, savor his scent left at the collar, and feel his hands pulling the belt tight across your waist.
Grief is lurking just beyond the thin layer of healing that you thought was beginning to cover up the hole in your heart.
You try to shake it off. You tell yourself not to pout, not to dwell on the heavy fog settling in. As if grief is a nasty habit you can conquer with positive thinking.
Well-meaning people say, “But you know he’s in heaven, with Jesus, and one day you’ll be together again.”
The words intended to bring hope drive the sword of grief even deeper into your soul. You’re not interested in tomorrow, in a promised future. You want to see him today. You want just one more day to look into those eyes that saw through you and still loved you.
Grief gets under your skin, irritating the protective layer of faith that makes sense of suffering and sorrow. It makes you scratch yourself ‘til you bleed tears that sting like salt on an open wound. Who can you call? What will relieve the burning sense of aloneness?
You cry out for him. You ask God to give him back. You wait.
Grief knows when you’ve had enough. It knows when to stop to let you catch your breath.
And then, like a spring rain bouncing hard off dry ground, pooling in the crevices and then vanishing beneath the surface, your tears fill up the barren spaces of your heart and preserve even the smallest root of faith. You are nourished from above, love poured down. The will to keep believing is restored. A new hope has blossomed and you are empowered to go it alone one more day.
Grief goes as quietly as it comes. It leaves you exhausted, but somehow refreshed. You know it isn’t through with you, but it doesn’t scare you as much anymore.