(This is a long and rambling post. )
It has been over two years since Todd died, and I am starting to feel life flow through my veins again. My circumstances are really not much different than they were the day after he died, but I have been given the gift of peaceful living in the present. The last few weeks, I have really been able to receive this gift for the most part. The days or moments when I refuse it, I feel so ugly inside. And the worst thing about feeling ugly inside is that this ugliness has a way of spewing onto others, especially those whom you love most dearly and know you best. I guess precisely because they do love you.
What I had begun to learn before Todd died, and I continue to learn, and will probably always have to study on, is that no other person can satisfy you the way God can. No other person is always going to deliver whatever it is you need (or think you need). No other person can make you "happy," nor can any set of perfect circumstances. In my experience, the circumstances of life never align perfectly like the stars. We fool ourselves a lot of times, though, thinking "what if?"
When Todd was alive, I would pray that Todd, Luke, Caley and I would draw closer to God, because in doing so, we would draw closer to one another. I would actually picture it in my mind…this drawing closer to God pulling us closer to one another as well. Now I believe Todd is actually united with Christ in a particular way that is too much for my brain to wrap around, but I have faith that it is beyond thoughts and words in surprising and marvelous ways. So, I continue to pray that Luke, Caley and I will draw closer to God, and in so doing, we continue to draw closer to Todd.
I don't want to spend my time thinking about the "what if's" –I want to focus on the "what is." The reality is that Todd's physical presence will never be with us again in this lifetime. The reality is that we will love and miss him forever. The reality is that we are strong and want to spend the days we have left on this earth living and singing praises to the One in whom we will all be reunited one day. I know where my strength comes from, and I am sharing that knowledge with my children. Caley, Luke and I are all strong (even when we are weak) because our faith is not in ourselves alone.
This afternoon, we were listening to the soundtrack to the musical "Annie" and Caley stopped the song "It's a Hard-Knock Life" and said "this song is really a sad one, isn't it?" I told her that, yes, it was. That there was truth in those lyrics and that some children do live in circumstances beyond cruel. I don't want to deny the reality of human suffering, and it can't be explained away, but I also don't want to leave them with the misunderstanding that the story ends there. I went on to tell her that although we couldn't know exactly how, that I believe that God's redeeming love was at work in the midst of all that, just like it is with us; and that there are many instances of people who have suffered horrible injustices as children, who grow up to tell their stories of God's redemption of their pain.
Tonight we were watching Eragon, and we had to pause the movie several times to talk about things. Like when Brom dies, and we knew Brom is Eragon's dad, Luke wanted to talk about how that reminded him about Daddy dying. There were tears and some laughter (Luke still thinks he wants to marry me or Caley ;-) , but it was okay, because we are not denying our grief nor letting it control us—when the grief monster shows up, we let him out and then ask him to move on. (We certainly don't try to convince him he doesn't exist!) During the big battle scene at the end of the movie, we were talking about fighting evil and not being afraid. And I was able to tell my children, truthfully, that I am not afraid to fight anything because I know I will either whip the foe or die trying and then I would go home to be with God…so to me it is a win-win situation. I want my kids to know their momma is not afraid of anything that lies ahead of us. I want them to know that I am confident, not in myself, but in the One who loves me enough to never leave me…the same One who will never leave them…the same One who has gathered Todd to Himself.
I am so thankful my kids ask questions and are willing to talk about what's going on inside them. (Even if sometimes all I can do is hug them and answer "I don't know.") I don't want them to be manipulated by unhealthy fear of any kind because I tried to sweep things under the rug or I didn't take the time to recognize their fears…their fears that I may die too, their fears about feeling safe, and so on. The reality is that I will die some day. I don't think it will be any time soon, but I am well aware that anything can happen…and they are too.
We had some family worship time today. Luke wanted to begin our time with the song "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light," and Caley wanted to end our time with "Joyful, Joyful" which concludes its first verse (and the only one we know by heart) with the expectant words "Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away. Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day." These songs seemed to be perfect bookends for this time together. We held hands in a circle while we sang "Joyful, Joyful," and their sweet voices were singing loudly and my heart was full--bursting with joy.
Two years ago, I could not begin to imagine that I would "burst with joy" ever again.