Most of us have experienced sorrow in our lifetime. I certainly have. A child born with a disability. An illness that stoled my ability to do certain things. My grandmother and my parents when they died. A brother who has struggled with mental illness most of his life. Dreams that haven’t come true. Loss of friendship. Circumstances that took me down paths I never planned on.
This current grief has taken me to an entirely new level, like nothing I’ve ever faced before. It is complicated. And messy. And confusing. It takes my breath away. Makes my heart feel like a rock inside my chest and haunts me with thoughts of packing a bag and fleeing to outrun it. It wakes me up in the night, fills me with dread, fear and tidal waves of sobbing I never knew were humanely possible.
I never would have suspected anger to be part of grief. This emotion has surprised me the most. It sneaks up on me at the most inopportune moments and is triggered by ridiculous things. Like struggling to open a jar that I would normally hand to Mike and when the lid won’t budge I’m overwhelmed by a sudden urge to throw it across the room.
I don’t know how many times in the past few weeks, I’ve said out loud to my missing man, “So where are you when I need you? Sure, you’re prancing around on streets of gold having the time of your life and I’m stuck down here with all this mess! Thanks a lot for leaving me!”
I’ve found myself angry for having to do all the things he usually did. Taking the trash to the roadside on Tuesday nights. Dealing with the hurricane roof that needs to be replaced. The endless amounts of paperwork and phone calls and cleaning the pool.
Most people hate pool maintenance but Mike liked it. Maybe because It’s mindless work. He used his brain so much overseeing the finances of entire organizations and managing people that cleaning tranquil water had a relaxing effect on him. Almost every night after work, he’d come home, change his clothes and go scoop out the pool. In the hot summer months he’d clean it while he was in it.
The disadvantage of having a garden inside your pool screen is the leaf debris that ends up in the pool. Last week after a windy rain, I went to scoop leaves and floating flowers out of the water. The scoop pole is long and awkward, I kept smacking the screen frame and kitchen windows with it and it took me longer than I expected. Debris I just picked up would escape the net and I was getting frustrated. Mike always made it look so easy.
I finally finished, slammed the pole back onto the hooks where it hangs and yelled up at the sky, “There! I cleaned the stupid pool! I did YOUR job and it looks nice! Aren’t you proud of me?!” Then I went back in the house and slammed the door. One minute later I was sobbing.
It’s so confusing, this grief. While I’ve considered myself to a pretty stable person, the roller coaster I’m on right now surprises me with twists and turns I don’t see coming until I’m in them. I don’t like roller coasters. They fill me with fear and make me sick. I avoid them. But it seems I’ll have to ride this one out for a while.
I do know God is in the seat next to me and He’s not surprised by any of it. He know’s I’m flesh. I’m week, flawed and tired and He doesn’t add guilt or condemnation on top of anything I feel right now. And I’ve lived long enough to know feelings are only reactions to stuff we don’t want, like or understand. They are the like mist rising off my pool on a cool Florida morning. Ascending, dissipating and rising again while the water remains, solid and steadfast underneath.
I miss my Mike with everything in me and my tipsy, flimsy faith, reaches for the Solid One who undergirds me in all of life. God has been and always will be the constant who provides an anchor point where my faith and reality collide. This roller coaster will come to a stop and eventually I’ll get off and say, “Whew, what a horrible ride. But I made it.”
Looking forward to that. A lot. I’m honestly admitting I don’t like where I am right now but when “I walk through valleys as dark as death…the Lord is with me” (Psalm 23:4). He’s with me in the anger, the sorrow, the sobbing, the confusion and even brief moments of joy. He’s bigger than my emotions and greater than my circumstance.
He is my God. He weeps with me, loves me and isn’t freaked out by anything I feel or how I react to this new normal I’m adjusting too. I trust Him to carry me through this process and bring me out on the other side because “[my] Maker is [my] husband: the Lord Almighty is His name. He is [my] redeemer. He is called the God of all the earth” Isaiah 54:5.