Phase 2: Permanence

Life in transition continues. A coworker recently caught herself saying, “Life is beautiful” to me and thought it might be hurtful, because life isn’t okay. But I had to tell her, honestly, that “okay” and “beautiful” are two different things, and I will forever believe, as my mom did, that every day is a beautiful gift. Cliche? I happily admit that you’re right.

We’ve entered phase two of the new normal, which I will call the, “Oh **** this is permanent and not a novelty anymore” phase. Not all crap, but certain family members don’t laugh as much, certain family members just miss  afternoon debriefs with Mom, and sometimes we’re all prickly. I’m juggling new developments constantly, and trying to learn how to just BE PRESENT with my family. Given how independent my life was before, and how well I sit still (not at all), you could say it’s a growing experience.

A friend who lost his dad last year wrote me an email with advice I needed to hear about not running away (it’s much easier to be at my house than my parents’), and I’m trying to take it to heart. The question is, how do you know you’re “dealing with things” and not brushing issues into a corner? Seems like the only course is to wait for the unwatched issues to spring out from the dark and catch you in their teeth.

Funny enough, I only realized a week ago that I was trying to facilitate a MAJOR CHANGE in my own life, when I’ve read so many times that you just shouldn’t in the first year. Surely it’s obvious that my theology has shifted and morphed in the last six months, but that’s no reason to run. Not yet. I do have a burning desire to READ ALL THE THINGS and find a holistic hermeneutic for understanding my faith. When will I find the time? Whew, who knows. For now, we’re safe–and we can love and serve–the people who loved and served us so well.

I understand now when people say the pain never goes away–but I see glimpses that it becomes more manageable, like the chronic physical pain people learn to deal with and compensate for.

We’ll get there, and all I can say is I can’t WAIT for spring. I know a break from the cold and the ability to get outside and hike and exercise and enjoy fresh air will go a long ways towards healing. I’m hoping for a family hiking/camping trip, since that was one thing Mom never particularly enjoyed but Dad has always loved. I’m hoping new routines and new adventures make reality more manageable.

* * *

[SIDE VENT]

Thank God only a couple people have said “Your mom is in a better place.” I’ve gone cold each time–I may hate this phrase most of all. How it ever became a benign cliche is beyond me, as all I hear when people say that is, “Well, she didn’t really belong here anyway. It’s better this way. She deserved better, and now she’s got it.”

Of COURSE she deserves the best, we loved her. But you just bulldozed all of us left behind. Apparently, we weren’t enough for her, she needed more. Or are you saying that God whisked her away to a “better place” knowing the personal costs to her family and friends?

“Better place” for WHO?!, I want to shout. Fine, if you want to get academic, although I think the presence of God himself is on such a different plane that “better” is weak. But is she in a “better place” when she has kids who are still to graduate high school, go on their first date, have their first kid? When what broke her heart most was acknowledging that she wouldn’t be here for those moments? For us, it seems “better” that she were here. How can you possibly say it was “better” for a life to be cut short? Death may be merciful, and I believe my God has redeemed death to become a gateway. But a gaping hole in reality, and you say it’s so she can be in a “better place”? Death is still the enemy. Death is defeated, but no. There are only two separate places with a great chasm between. It won’t be a “better place” until all things–all things–are made new.

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