It still leaves me baffled that the world does not stop when someone you love dies.
When my Dad passed away, I remember pulling my hand out of the grip of his yellow palm and rushing out of my house. I didn’t think about where I was going but intuitively felt drawn across the street to our church where he had served as Pastor. Flopping down on the front steps of the Sanctuary building I wailed. I felt like I had died, like everything inside me was being ripped out of my chest at once. As far as I was concerned, the world had ended.
I sat there weeping until I realized that my sister had also stepped out of our house and was sitting on the front stoop in plain sight. I was sure she could hear me, so I attempted to pull myself together. I wiped my eyes and took a couple deep breaths, feeling a little embarrassed.
Looking around me to be sure that no one else had overheard the sounds of my weary anguish, I became aware that the morning that had engulfed me was perfection. It was late May and everything was in bloom. The trees were tall and glorious. The sun was just coming up streaming warm, golden light between the leaves above me. I could smell the scent of honeysuckle in the air. The day around me was beginning to reverberate with newness and possibility…the exact opposite of how I felt.
How was this happening? Didn’t the rest of creation know that my Dad was dead?
The world had not ended. I would have to live. This realization is what bothered me most. Somehow I would have to endure living with this giant hole of missing.
It has been 9 years this month since I first felt that gut-wrenching sensation of loss. And now this month will commemorate another death and another great man in my life. On Mother’s Day, my grandfather died in his sleep. I used to dread the day I would receive this news. I would often wonder how I could endure the loss of another formative pillar in my life. But as days do, they came and went just like the first. However, this time, it felt different.
I don’t think the difference was that Paw-Paw was “90 years old and had lived a full life” as everyone has repeated. I think the difference was me. This time, I knew that the world would not end and that I would GET to live. I miss Paw-Paw and I will miss him every day, just like I do my Dad, but there is more here. When Daddy died, I felt like a great pit had formed in my life. As the years have passed, I have discovered that there is nothing that will ever fill this pit in. There will always be a hole where my Dad had been.
However, my life doesn’t just stop with the hole. God has been filling up my days in new ways, with unimaginable blessings all building up over time. Surrounding this pit of sadness are mountains of hope. Each mountain is a new joy, a new dream and a way of living that has filled my life to fullness even with the presence of the pit.
I am still sad, but I live today knowing that God will continue to shape mountains around my wounds that stand taller than my sadness can ever run deep. From the depths, I can see how vast and sensational the blessings of life have been and in faith, I know there will be more mountains to explore and more joys to be had even while I miss my Paw-Paw.