Loss, this kind of loss is like a hole that will just always be empty. Please don’t misunderstand, we know the love and comfort of Jesus and that He is our All-Sufficient One. We know that we have a great hope and that hope propels us forward. But loss is loss. We were made to love. And when we lose a great love, a one of a kind love like the kind Derek gave to each one of us in his family, it isn’t filled. For the rest of our lives there will be that space that was only his to fill.
Grief is an unpredictable dynamic. There is no blueprint and there are no rules. Grief does what it does. In our family grief has many faces. Sometimes grief is deep sobbing, the laughter of sweet memories, or the quietness of thoughts to precious to speak out loud. Sometime grief is words on a paper, paint on a canvas, or the lyrics to a song.
Grief takes place in unexpected places and at unexpected times. Sometimes grief comes in a used record store, on the bathroom floor, in a parking lot after buying shoes, or walking into a coffee shop.
Tonight grieving took place in the heart of my precious Elia Jane.
John and I sat Elia down the day before the funeral and explained “Uncle DoeDoe’s” death to her in the very best way we could. She was quiet, said nothing, but lay her head on my lap and whimpered while we stroked her back. After a bit, she went about her day and didn’t say a word about it.
Over the next few days, any time we would mention it, she would ignore us. Last night, as John snuggled in bed with her to pray for her and tuck her in, he asked her if she was missing “Uncle DoeDoe.” She wrinkled up her forehead and silenced him by covering his mouth. He said, “You don’t want to talk about it, Elia?” and she nodded “Yes.”
Tonight our dear friend and photographer Shelley sent us a preview of the photos she had take the day of the memorial service. The photos played in a beautiful slide show to Derek’s song, “Fragrant Burning.” The toddlers were intrigued and all three sat and watched it two times thought. The rest of the family was out of the house, and it was unbelievably quiet and peaceful. They wanted to watch it for a third time, so I ask them to move to the couch with me, and I told them that we would snuggle up and watch it one more time before bed.
As I took the laptop to the couch, Aiden and Emma climbed up next to me. Elia was coming up to the couch to climb up, and as she got to the edge of the couch, she fell forward, face down on the couch and started weeping. Keep in mind this child is not quite 3.
Every mother knows the sound of her child’s cries. The tired cry, the hurt cry, the I’m mad at you cry…. but this one was new. This was the cry of grief coming out of my precious, tiny girl.
I pulled her up to me, as the photos and the music continued to play, and she lay her head on my chest and wept. Initially when I asked her if she was sad about “Uncle DoeDoe,” she denied it with angry intensity. Eventually she admitted her pain and cried in my arms a bit longer. We finished watching and listening, and every now and then she would bury her head into me and cry some more.
Today grief looked at me through the eyes of a beautiful, two-year-old, little girl. And it was real.