20161201_063521Sunrise from Jana’s hospital window

I’ve watched many sunrises in the past few months. Even though they mean another long and weary day is starting, I look forward to them.  The house is still quiet, and the coffee maker is about to turn on.  I’ve been awake for a while, reading, writing, crying, or just sitting in the dark.  Each sunrise is different, but they are always silent and somehow calm the anxiety in my soul.  Some of the sunrises are incredible, with vivid color splashed all over the sky.  You can’t turn away from them.   They are so brilliant it seems that you could close your eyes and still feel the changes in the sky reflected on your face.  These are the mornings that people stop on the side of the road and take pictures.  Others are more subtle.  Pink and pale gold creep in, pushing away the darkness.  And sometimes the sky is thick with clouds and you can’t see the sunrise at all. It still gets light, dim and gray, but light. 

Every time I see the sun rise I think of Lamentations 3:22-23.  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness.”  Since Samuel died, Bible verses of hope and love leave me feeling angry, because I can’t see how they are true.  But these verses, in front of the sunrise, do not.  Maybe because the sunrise itself feels peaceful.  If I start thinking about the rest of Lamentations, I get confused and angry again.  So I have this one sentence.  I’m not even sure what it means or if I believe it.  I can just hear it without resentment.  That’s not much, but it’s something.

I wonder if God’s mercy is like the sunrise.  Sometimes it overwhelms and it’s gorgeous. You can’t turn away, everyone notices.  God writes his compassion and presence in bold, obvious ways.  Other times God’s mercy is like the subtle sunrise.  His peace steals in quietly, privately, calm and comforting.  And then there are the gray days.  Mercy might still be there, moving in the background.  But you won’t notice unless you try and look for it:  God’s mercy in a friend who drops dinner off at your door, or in an email from someone reminding that they are thinking of your family.  An apology.  A knowing look between you and your spouse.  A spontaneous kiss from your kids. 

Is God’s mercy is like the sunrise on a stormy day too?  Not the gray mornings, but days where the little light that makes it through the thunderheads does less to cheer and more to reveal the branches and leaves and shingles littered across the backyard.  In the dark you can hear the storm on the house, but morning reveals it’s true danger.  You can see it battering the trees, threatening to tear them over.  Rain weighs everything down, storm drains overflow, and the toys the kids left in the grass are swept down the hill and lost in the woods.  It is frightening, and you wonder if you will survive the storm or if a tree is going to land on your roof.  You cannot see the sun.  You believe it’s there only because you trust the pattern you’ve seen all the other days of your life.

I guess most of the time we make it through the stormy days.  The winds calm, the clouds thin, and the light becomes pleasant again.  We go outside and clean up the damage. 

The storms of life, well, not everyone survives those.  I don’t think we are promised an end to all storms, either.  Will God’s love be new to us again?  Will we see it when we figure out how to live in this storm?


My friends have become brave, and my world has become lighter.

This past week or so we haven’t felt so alone.  Multiple people have reached out to us, reaching over that frightening empty space that surrounds us.  And they thought they were just talking to me or bringing me lunch, but really they were healing my heart.  The anger that I’ve fought against for the last two months has started to melt away.  I was helpless against that anger, but my courageous friends have fought it for me. 

One friend brought over lunch.  I warned her that I wasn’t very good company, but she came over anyway.  We ate chicken salad sandwiches and talked for two hours.  She also came by on Sunday and picked up our kids and took them to church for us.  I’ve felt guilty that we hadn’t been taking the kids to church, so that was a true gift. 

Another friend sat with me for hours over coffee at Panera.  She didn’t judge me and sometimes even made me laugh, which is no easy accomplishment. 

A sweet lady from our Bible study offered to come over and show me how to paint with acrylics.  I’ve been working with watercolors, but had thought about trying something new.  She showed me how she illustrates verses and prayers in her Bible, beautiful work. 

Several people have emailed to tell us they are praying for us. 

There is still indescribable sorrow in our family, sorrow that threatens to tear us apart.  But some of the darkness has gone away. 

Dying in Plain Sight

The aftermath of Samuel’s death is harder than I thought.  Losing Samuel has been all the pain you would imagine…crushing sadness, emptiness in every corner of the house, missing him all the time.  But I’ve been caught off guard by how an ugly change has curled it’s fingers into every other area of our family.  We haven’t just lost Samuel, we’ve lost the rest of our lives as well. 

I feel as if I have died too, only I’m still here, occupying space, and people still expect things of me.  I have a hard time engaging Jeremy and the kids.  I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to them, to play, to laugh.  I am tired, so tired.  I catch myself sitting at the table and staring, while everyone else eats and talks.  The world feels so heavy it’s literally hard to smile.  And my mothering tasks suffer too.  We’ve had days where we’ve eaten cereal for all three meals.  When the kids can’t find clean clothes I tell them to pick something off the floor.  I don’t want them to be in therapy someday talking about when their little brother died and their mom disappeared into an unending pit of sadness.

I have two kinds of days.  Some are plain sad days, just sadness.  I miss Samuel and I cry half the day.  On these days I have some grace to extend to others.  I recognize that people don’t engage us because they don’t know what to do.   Or I know that people care, but understand their need to not to get overwhelmed by our sadness.  They need to move on with their lives, that’s good.  This is our fate, not anyone else’s. 

The other days are more dark.  I’m angry, hopeless, confused, guilty, but mostly angry.  And on those days it’s hard to see that we are anything but alone.  People cared when the accident happened, of course.  There was some sort of morbid allure, people were appalled, thankful that it wasn’t them, grieved for us.  But then the funeral was over and everyone quickly moved on to get away from the impossibleness of it.  And we were left alone.  And I’m furious.  I don’t know where God is, I don’t know why he did this, I’m mad that I’m supposed to trust him and turn to him for comfort when he’s the one who is breaking us.  That doesn’t make sense. 

But I’m also ashamed of my anger, because it’s unfair to ask anyone to feel this with us.  It’s so deep and overwhelming. 

I’m trapped here. Surprised that at the end of each day, I’m still somehow breathing. 

Untouchable, alone.