Sometimes, like a comet whizzing through the atmosphere, out of nowhere, and slamming into the earth, grief strikes. You don't see it coming and it leaves a crater behind. This week has been a tough week on the grief front. Yesterday, I was cleaning a closet out, feeling pretty good about the purging I was doing and then I came across this:
To most it just looks like an ordinary report card. A third grade student advancing to fourth grade. YAY! To me, it marks something very different. I pulled the report card out of its envelope, I chuckled at the grades and comments on the inside, I marveled at the idea that I only missed two days of school that year, then I turned it over and it hit me, like a comet out of nowhere. Her signature exactly where it should be for the first two periods of the school year. Then, she was gone.
It was a breathtaking snapshot of her very real absence and the breath was stolen from my lungs. I sat down on the kitchen floor and just stared at it. She was there, and then she wasn't. In a moment the whole world changed. That change is vividly marked on the back of my third grade report card. Tears started to fall as memories flooded back. Howard noticed that I'd stopped cleaning and he came to look over my shoulder, he was speechless. He hugged me and said, "that sucks, I'm sorry". I nodded.
I sat there and thought about that year. How drastically my life changed that year. Despite all of that, I missed TWO days of school, and one was the day of my mother's funeral. I pondered that for a few moments, I mean, surely losing your mother at 9 years old warrants a few days absence, but as I thought, I remembered how much I loved school. I remembered how when the whole world was spinning out of control, that third grade classroom was my constant, while the whole world around me came crashing in, that was a safe place, I had the most amazing teachers who helped to resume my normal, they loved me and stood in the gap as best they could. Over two decades later I am still wading through he grief of losing my mom at 9.
As I look back over the hardest times in my life I can see now how the Lord used those around me to carry me when life made it too hard to walk on my own. As a nine year old I am not sure I was aware of His presence, but He was there, I am so grateful for the amazing people who were His hands and feet to me and still are. We were never meant to walk this journey alone, sometimes life is hard, sometimes grief strikes out of nowhere, but through it all, He takes that pain and gives it purpose, so while my heart is heavy tonight, I am rejoicing for the beauty from the ashes, for the purpose in the pain and for the people who don't turn away when things get hard, they press in and walk with the grieving. It is my prayer that I am able to be that for someone else.