the winds of change and circumstance blow in, and all around us… so we find a foothold that’s familiar, and bless the moments that we feel You nearer.
I remember a distinct moment at the beginning of the worst week. I was lying in my bed at my grandparents house, face in a pillow to keep my eyes from seeing that the walls and windows were naked, their contents having been boxed up and carried out to various cars and dumpsters that littered their yard, tears and snot flowing, heart in my throat, stomach in knots, wondering if life could possibly get any worse.
A day before I had rested my forehead on the cool metal frame of the funeral home door while they closed the lid of my Grandma’s casket, an attempt to keep both feet on the ground as the room spun around me.
A few days later I assumed the same position. Face down on a bed in the Holiday Inn of Roswell, GA. The floor around me looked like a crime scene in a Hobby Lobby…. scrapbooking supplies that moments before had been meticulously placed on perfectly designed pages thrown to the floor to make room for all the pain that needed a place to rest. Time and place escaping me for a brief moment as I sobbed and screamed into my cell phone begging my best friend to make sense of the latest blow to my incredibly fragile heart.
I spent 24 hours in that hotel room, tossing and turning and waiting, before I drove down a highway in total silence for eight hours. I arrived home highly caffeinated, devastatingly brokenhearted, and completely wrecked by the truth that in the span of one week the two things I held most dear had been ripped away from me in the most unexpected, brutally tragic ways.
I knew it that night as I drifted into a restless sleep in my own bed: my heart would never be the same.
Last night I opened box after box full of memories. I spent hours reading every note, every letter, every card. My middle school yearbook signatures. High school notes passed in Biology class. Senior memory books full of well wishes and reminiscing. Christmas cards, birthday cards, encouraging notes from camps and retreats as a student and as a leader.
And every so often my fingers would run across words from them. Sweet encouragement from my precious Grandparents who breathed Life over me from my first day on this earth. Tracing their handwriting with my finger wishing me happy birthdays and merry Christmases, writing of their pride in their granddaughter, and the great love Jesus has for me.
I unsealed sandwich bags to uncover paper that once smelled like you. Tear stained from all the nights I held them close, words scrawled across the page, the perfect blend of encouragement, laughter, and true love…. just like you were. Words that whispered in my ear, then and now, “no fear, B… no fear”. And I can’t help but smile and weep remembering all the years we spent “learning how to love”… each other, other people, the Lord….
These days I’m a few years removed from the worst week. As I held the weight of those memories in my hands, I did two important things.
I cried. I needed to grieve the loss because I still feel it. There are unanswered questions that may never resolve. There is regret that may forever accompany those memories. And there is great sadness because great love is hard to lose.
I laughed. I laughed at my Grandpa’s illegible handwriting. I laughed at the inside jokes that fit so effortlessly in the midst of sweet love notes. I laughed at remembering the silly placement of the switch for the living room ceiling fan in their house, at the plays we put on in your basement as kids, at the picture engrained in my mind of you bundled up frying fish outside in the dead of winter. I laughed at late night phone call silliness, morning texts, curly hair, cheesy pop songs and 90s references.
And when I was finished?
I folded them up. Placed them gently back in their boxes. And closed the lid.
Because life goes on. God is doing new things. I cherish what has been, but my hands are open to what will be. It’s a beautiful, delicate balance, and I refuse to hold so tightly to the beautiful things God once graced my life with and thereby forfeit all the beauty that is still to be.
This season that’s coming? It’s gonna be a good one. And how sweet and good is He that He allowed the last season to shape me into exactly who I need to be in this moment so that i can fully embrace the next one?
Praying that each of us look forward to what’s next with the faith that comes from looking back and seeing His hand sustaining us, whether it be through the gut wrenching loss of our worst week, or the wide open spaces of our future. He is good, y’all. He is so, so good.