In July 2007 I woke to a phone call that changed our lives forever.
Fast forward to July 2020. This morning when my phone dinged, as I was just about to head out for my run, it was a text from my daughter letting me know she’s been accepted to one of her top colleges.
And in these moments my heart explodes with joy, and sinks with grief.
Sometimes I don’t even recognize what I’m feeling until my feet hit pavement. Today. Today, I ran long and hard and I let myself break.
It’s not fair that the ONE other person who would be as proud of her as I am isn’t here.
It’s not fair that he’s missed birthdays and recitals and Casey’s graduation and first dates and boyfriends.
It’s not fair that Casey is navigating the work force for the first time without the leadership of his dad. It’s not fair that Lydia doesn’t have a man to tell her she’s beautiful and worthy and amazing.
It all came pouring out of me this morning, in the form of sweat and tears and my feet pounding the pavement for mile after mile.
A lot of you might read this and think, “it’s been 13 years, time to get over it already.” Yes - thirteen years of watching our kids reach milestones he’s not here for. Thirteen fathers days that we visited a grave instead of a threw a party. Thirteen years since we’ve felt his presence or heard his voice. And I’m here to tell you that time doesn’t heal a loss like this. Sometimes… time makes it harder.
But we’ve also experienced thirteen years of watching God show up when the passing time and the heavy absence of the man we loved so much is just too much. We’ve watched him heal and re-heal our hearts. Because “healing” isn’t a one time event. It’s a process of breaking and healing and breaking again and healing again. I personally have been through thirteen years of becoming closer to a God who, frankly, I don’t get. And growing in a faith that doesn’t look anything like what the christian devotionals say it should.
And my constant prayer and hope has been
“beauty for ashes, Lord”.
“Turn the pain into something good, Lord”
“Take what was meant to break us and use it to make us stronger, closer, wiser, Lord”
And what I’ve learned is that one of the gifts of a grieving heart is being able to live and find peace somewhere in the middle of the healing and the breaking. It’s understanding that some questions won’t get answered and some pain will never go away, but believing and trusting in spite of it all is the essence of faith.
Maybe that’s the Gray.
A place where it’s ok not to have all the answers, a place to be breaking and healing at the same time.