It’s the Little Things; OK, It’s the Big Things Too
Sorrow over the loss of a loved one, at least for those of us who trust in God’s loving, sovereign care for us, is pretty simple to understand. We don’t, when our wife passes, have to wonder what God is thinking. We don’t, when our little girl joins her, have to listen to the accusations of the devil that we must have made our Father mad. He knows what He’s doing, and one thing He is assuredly not doing is expressing His anger toward us. He loves us as He loves His Son; His anger is no more. But the sorrow is easy to grasp- we miss those who are no longer with us.
I am still asked, thankfully, how I am doing, and my answer has not changed. I, and the children with me, are sad. As we should be. We are sad that our lives go on without Denise, that they go on without Shannon. We hurt because we miss them. We miss them because we delighted in them.
This morning I had breakfast with old friends. I met these dear friends roughly 17 years ago. Denise and I had been married three years; Darby was 3, Campbell 2. The last time I saw these friends was at least four years ago. Denise and Shannon were both healthy. And now, there I was, a shell of the man I once was. The man they knew, the husband of Denise, was now alone. They were at the hospital the day Shannon was born, were near when she was first diagnosed. They knew me as the man who met Shannon’s needs.
As much as I enjoyed our time together I could not help but face two difficult truths. First, I am less the man I was when I knew them when. My sails hang limp; the shadow of my sorrow clings to me, wraps around me like windless sheets. Seeing myself with these friends, but without Denise and Shannon, revealed that painful truth to me. What I am getting used to is the new normal, but in the new normal, I’m not normal.
The second truth was that I can share neither the joy nor the pain with my beloved. I cannot report to her how nice it was to see these friends after so many years. I cannot retell to her the old stories we laughed about once again like the mathematically challenged friend who years ago proudly announced how well his premie born little boy was growing, “The doctor says Alex is ninety percent bigger than all the other babies.” I cannot tell bring her up to date on the latest doings of the friends of our friends, those they keep up with that we have lost touch with.
And so the double dagger is that I mourn alone. Denise is not here to comfort me. Shannon is not here to smile away my tears. Because she is not with me Denise can’t tell me it’s okay that she is not with me. I’m broken and lonesome for my dear ones. But I’m okay because it’s okay to be broken and lonesome for my dear ones.
When I first met these old friends I saw today we were beginning a study in the book of Joshua. Being with them again reminds me of that ancient wisdom, that glorious truth that though I am lonesome, I am not alone.- “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”- (Joshua 1:9).