Grief is the strangest of bedfellows. It’s a sign that you love the person you’ve lost. But it’s haunting ~ like an iron clad sky, masking the sun and refusing to let it shine. You think perhaps if you travel far enough in any direction, whether by car or in your mind, you can find a space that isn’t heavy, a moment that isn’t weighted down with sorrow. But so far, that seems to elude me.
I miss my Father so much it physically hurts. I am not just a Daddy’s girl. He is the family member I am closest to, the one who gets me, the one who taught me to drive, how to save money, how to taste my words before I speak them, how to be patient, how to hold a stick shift on a hill with just the gas and the clutch, how to be no respecter of persons, how to listen, how to make a proper pancake, how to love with vulnerability, how to pray, how to hold my tongue, how there are always two sides to everything, how to be authentic, how to serve when it hurts, how to think of others above myself, how to use humor to disarm people, how to stubbornly have a good attitude, and so much more.
Right now, grief feels like a huge wad of rubber bands wound together in a big ball. Or maybe it’s like a kidney stone that your heart has to pass. Writing has always been cathartic for me. So when I let my grief spill out on paper, it feels like I’m taking those rubber bands apart one by one so they can be digested on their own.
When you have a headache, you take a pill. When you break a bone, you have it set. When you get a cut, you grab Neosporin and a Bandaid. But how do you manage the pain of grief?
Tears come with grief, so you replenish your body with water. Otherwise, you become dehydrated and your body stops functioning properly. But what do you put in place of the grief that spills out of you? I’ve thought a lot about this lately and I’ve come up with only one answer.
The only way to avoid your heart getting dehydrated and shutting down is to replace that grief with love. You wouldn’t drink swamp water if your body was dehydrated. You’d reach for the purest water you could find. So too with your heart. You can’t substitute lust, infatuation or obsession for authentic love.
And the greatest love I’ve ever known isn’t love for myself or my family. It’s God’s love for me. Some people have said that I’m a loving daughter and I’ve sacrificed a lot to care for my Father. I appreciate that. But who I am and what I do don’t exist apart from God. They exist because of God. If you took God out of my life, I would be a miserable, hollow shell of a person. God is love. So if people say I’m loving, what they’re seeing is God loving my parents through me. But in this process of grieving, I’m learning that right now I need to soak in His love. I need to bathe in it, marinate in it, let it wash over me and fill up all the emptiness inside me.
Sunday night at church I stood and sang with the congregation with hands upraised. The tears started streaming down my face. I kept wiping them away, but they kept coming. Oh how I miss my Father. He is the closest thing I’ve ever had to unconditional love. Maybe that’s why I’m having such a hard time with this. Maybe I subconsciously think that when I lose him, that love is gone. I have a lot of amazing people in my life who love me. But there is no one like my Father, no one who gets me like he does.
The last thing I wanted to do was break down right there in church and sob uncontrollably. I asked God to make the tears stop. But He told me it’s ok to grieve in His Presence. In fact, if I’m going to grieve, that’s where I most want to be. Because when all that grief pours out of me, His love, which is perfect and the purest love, is being poured right back into me.
When I lock eyes with You, I see my reflection,
When I lock eyes with You, I feel Your affection,
I love to get lost in You, cause You’re my obsession,
When I lock eyes with You
All I want is You, Jesus
All I need is You,
All I see is You,
So come in like a fire
Come in like a flood,
I don’t care what it looks like
I’m so in love*