Those of you who have read my most recent book, Made for
Living, know that it is a compilation of newspaper columns
I wrote in back in the early 1980s when my family was living
in Florida. I re-discovered them while cleaning out a basement
closet and as I began sharing them with my children, my son,
Mark, said, "Mom, you need to put these into a book." And so,
I did. But even as I was putting the book together, I was certain
that some of the columns I had saved were missing, but I just
couldn't locate them and the book was published, in spite of my
sense of incompleteness.
And then, last week, as I was cleaning out yet another closet,
this time in my home office, and there they were...the missing
columns, some from each year, and so I decided to share
them with you, dear readers, in the hope that they will speak
to you, hold some meaning for you, will resonate with your
heart and life.
Memories Are Forever- Oct. 1, 1981
Daylight arrives late these mornings. Rising at 5:30a.m. is like getting
up in the middle of the night for the sky is dark, unpierced by the first
tentative fingers of light which mark the impending arrival of dawn.
The world is silent; no voices, no birdsong. These is a deep and
ponderous sense of solitude, of true alone-ness; the feeling that other
human life has ceased and only within oneself stirs the breath of life
No voices- no sounds or movements- only stillness and a deep sense
of being alone.
This particularly soul-wrenching aloneness is perhaps the most
effective way to describe the feelings experienced by many persons
upon the death of a loved one. It may not occur in the first few days
or even in the early weeks, but at some point, the reality of the death
hits and the feeling of emptiness, or a terrible, dark, aching void begins.
Several years ago, my youngest sister was killed suddenly in a tragic
auto accident. The immediate days were difficult, filled with a sense of
disbelief, of unreality. But not until much later did the true sense of loss
sink in- or perhaps emerge from a deep-buried place inside me.
Reminders of her former active presence in my life seemed to be every-
where and my grief was resurrected again and again- and still again, by
pictures, events, words, experiences which conjured up the image of
her face and her unique spirit. And though, because of my beliefs, I
have never had any doubt about her fate, my own human feelings are
still- nearly three years later- ones of loss, of the real sense of emptiness
created in the one area of my life by her death.
Resurrection theology, ascribed to by Christians, does not carry with it
the condemnation of grief. It does not mean the loss through death of a
much-loved person should not bring mourning or sadness. It does not
mean escaping from the very human feelings of aloneness and separation
from the one loved. I believe we do a terrible disservice to grieving people
when we convey only the joy of Resurrection without accepting and
acknowledging the very real pain of loss and separation which death
brings. Life for the survivor will never again be the same, and change,
any change, is difficult and painful and life-wrenching.
Time passes and time does heal wounds, but we must remember that the
pain of grief is not silenced, only muted. In the words of Joseph Bayly,
in The View from a Hearse, "Time heals grief but love prevents scar
tissue from forming." As long as we live, there will be reminders- both
joyous and painful- of the loved one who was once an integral part of our
life. And tears may come, unbidden and unexpected, over years of time.
Our assurance that death has brought only a temporary separation does
not diminish the fact that the separation is very real and the empty place
in our life is indeed empty.
As death is a real part of life, grief and mourning are a real part of death.
They are part of the price of loving and being loved, of sharing life and
living with others, of being human. But we live with a promise that
ultimately, "God will wipe away every tear from their (our) eyes." Rev. 7:17