Maybe I am okay… Maybe life is wrong…
So I have this room full of all kinds of tools. I have drills and welders and crow bars and sockets and screw drivers and belt sanders, scrapers, players, dikes, nail sets, trowels, utility knives, planers, augers, files, and wrenches of every sort. I have a shelf full of “how to” books. And I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me and everything else, I can find a YouTube video that will show me how to fix it.
But I can’t fix this.
I can’t turn the corner on the pain and grief because the reality of my son being gone won’t change around that corner or the next or the next… and even though I may not feel it now… somewhere today there is a trigger that will threaten to leave me an emotional wreck… I will see glimpses of my son in public places, I will be haunted by the ghosts of memories, I will hear his voice behind me in a crowd and I will expect my son to come in that door, or call, or message me… and it will never ever happen. I can’t fix it.
Even the best of memories has its edge now. Storms blow in without warning.
I can frame everything in better language… place it in a velvet box, smile at the good times. I can do my best to put the best spin on every waking moment… but even when the words are right, and framed correctly and my focus is on the positive… my son… I will never hold him again.
There is no software patch… no online tool, no technical service that will make it all better. Not that it isn’t getting better… but I will never, ever get my son back. And grief is the price I pay for that love.
And whatever emotional storm is going on inside me that I can’t fix… I know that my wife is going through her own private hurricane. And I can’t fix that either. I watch her and even though I think I know what she is going through there are times when I can’t help, there are things I don’t know and I don’t understand… about being a mother who has lost a son.
This can’t be normal. Life… in all of its beauty and glory… is just wrong. And in a very fundamental way it will always be a little bit wrong.
There is still a hell of a lot of beauty in life… from the sun setting on a windy day, to the smell of bacon, to the way this cat plays with a ball. There is still magic in the laughter of children and in the harmonies and rhythms of a song played just right. Even storms have their beauty. It still feels good to smile and laugh and to breathe or move or to smell the salt air coming off the ocean. There is still majesty in simple things that turns my mind toward God and some infinite goodness. And I can still feel loved and accept comfort and know that down deep, I belong, I matter, and that God is good…
But life itself… It’s just a little bit wrong.
To say things are perfect in their imperfection… That gnarled beauty of a tree that endured decades of abusive winds, or the incredible glory of a granite valley scarred by the slow violence of a glacier… are beautiful because they have endured something terrible… I don’t know if I can go there.
I will do my best to make the most out of life… with some sadness… but without bitterness, without anger. To go on and make a difference for others… to make it better. To offer comfort to those who hurt. To give a smile. A word of encouragement. To create something of beauty. To help someone belong. I can fill my days with activities. I can work through anger and grief. I can talk to people and accept the love and support of others. I can paint about it. I can write about it. I can talk about it. And it does get better. Eat. Drink. Sleep. Walk. Pray. Talk. Work. Yeah… maybe in some measure I am okay.
And you don’t fix the beauty of a sunset. You don’t fix the majesty of a granite cliff or a lightening struck tree. You don’t fix a storm.
No father is supposed to bury his son.
And maybe when something like this happens… the pain is normal. Disorientation is normal. Anger is normal
And as normal as this kind of grief is… maybe I am not supposed to fix it.
It just is.