I stood on the porch. It's 5:55 p.m. Eleven years ago there was a horrible, life-altering accident. I look down the sidewalk and recall the policeman and my neighbors walking up it. Tears flow at the memory. The mind flashes thoughts of metal crashing and tearing, of tires on the pavement, of my beloved mortally wounded and bleeding, then silence with just a cold winter breeze.
Back on the porch, I pull up my hood and step down one step.
Hot, salty tears flow down my cheeks. I take a deep breath and head down the sidewalk to meet an old acquaintance, Grief. We have traveled many miles together. We've never been friends. Grief can be demanding, bossy, rude, exhausting, and overwhelming. Though Grief has been very painful, knocking the wind out of me, pouncing on me, and wounding me to the ground, I don't think of Grief as an enemy either. A bully at times maybe, but whose power has diminished over the years. Two things are constant about Grief: it is unpredictable and the Lord has always sent comfort.
It has been quite a long while since we last spoke. There has been such healing in my heart, I had hoped we'd not ever have to meet again. But the tell-tale scar on my heart and soul give it a passport to come, though its stay won't be long.
Grief and I walk down the driveway together. Then I force my feet to face the cemetery. Tears continue to fall with each rhythmic step of my feet crunching in the snow. I head to go into the cemetery one way. I stop. Another flash from the past. A tent. Chairs. A casket. Family. Cold wind blowing through the huge hole in my heart.
I turn and walk along the edge of the cemetery. Three trees. A garden stone. A dream remembered. A touch to the cheek. Understanding eyes. Permission to move forward. Crunch, crunch. The snow beckons me on.
I turn again and walk forward uncertainly, not knowing what Grief will do. I reach the graveside. And the tears come more forcefully and sobs escape my lips. Time stops.
Grief swirls around me like an icy blizzard.
Blinding my eyes,
stinging my cheeks,
making my lungs gasp for warm air...
"I love you so much....." I whisper into the night as I stare at a picture of a married couple, so happy, so in love, sharing the secret of a third child within. It seems like a lifetime ago I posed for that picture with my Jim alive beside me.
The icy blizzard calms, and the blessed warmth of comfort of the Lord comes.
Time begins ticking again. Grief backs away into the shadows of the trees, but doesn't yet leave.
I breathe in the grace of God.
I fill my lungs with the warmth of His love and faithfulness as the tears continue to flow.
But the sobs are silent. Like birds released from prison, they have flown away.
I stoop down. With my finger, I write in the snow. After five words, my finger throbs with pain from the cold. But it is the only pain I feel. I breathe a sigh of relief. Through the tears, I read in the moonlight, "I will always love you."
The mind jumps to a beach in Michigan and the waves flowing in. Two honeymooners write in the sand. The waves threaten to erase their creation. Quickly the bride writes "T.I.D." which means True If Destroyed. They turn their backs on the water and the good man plucks an enormous red maple leaf and hands it to his soulmate.
The cool breeze tussles my hair and I turn towards the path in the woods. I feel Grief lingering behind me, following, yet staying in the shadows. Tears continue to fall as I meander through the woods to the field drive. My back is to the life in the house, my back is to the grave. I walk on and on until I feel Grief has given up following me and the tears cease. Then I just stop and stand.
Alone, I just stand and Be.
"Be still and know," God said.
My eyes contrast the crumbled down old barn and the home beyond full of life.
The nightly breeze has begun to dry my cheeks. I lick my lips and taste the remnant of salt. The mind flashes to a memory, but it is blurry and fading. The mind quickly tries to jump to the future, but it is halted and captured. I turn around and retrace my steps.
Suddenly the night is pierced by a holler from the boys, "Mom?" It is repeated, then the door bangs shut. I turn towards the house as I tramp through the woods. Instinctively, I follow the path to the cemetery. Without even thinking I write "T.I.D." Then smile at my Jim's picture and use my boot to snowplow my words of love into forever. Into eternity.
Using my sleeve, I remove the tears from my lashes and finish drying my cheeks. I walk back towards reality and the boys who need me. I glance at the time. 6:11 p.m. Sixteen minutes have passed; it seemed like hours. Where will we be in five years? Who or what is in my future? I round the corner of the house and light from within streams out across the snow. Home awaits.
I open the door to reality, to continued healing, to the possibilities of the future, and shut the door behind me. And Grief remains in the cold, waiting for permission from the Almighty to visit me again.