Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day

Labor day. Labor of love. Four short hours of labor.

I'm cleaning Ben's room today.

I think I knew I'd do it, planned to do it, this weekend during a beautiful breakdown last weekend.

What is it about doing dishes and taking showers that seems to bring out the crybaby in me? It happened last Saturday morning. I was leaning over the deep sink, bathed in bright green light pouring through one of my favorite stained glass pieces (I'm starting to get the stained glass itch again, by the way... couldn't do it the whole time I was pregnant because of the toxins in the adhesive I use and haven't felt like doing it since Ben died. It's been a year since I touched colored glass), listening to worship music turned way up, when I broke.

I'm telling you, if you're a believer and you're struggling with something with deep roots, trying like crazy to dig to the bottom of it, worship will do it every time. My dad was saying yesterday that it's like a prayer language that totally intimidates the enemy and he has to flee when it begins. And I think it's also like fire and the enemy, like sin, is completely flammable. When we walk into the presence of the Lord-- whether we dance, crawl or limp in, singing-- the consuming fire that is His holy presence begins to burn away the dross in us. And the enemy, who would press my face into my navel, not looking for the Lord, cannot stand that holy presence. I think that's a big part of the whole mystery. It shows up in the psalms all the time-- start off with "OH, woe is me..." and end with "You alone are perfect in all Your ways! Praise You!"

Anyway, I'm standing there with suds and water all over my hands and somehow all over my arms and in my hair, weeping, singing "You alone are holy, You alone are worthy, You alone are God and worthy of my praise," adding "dammit" every few lines. It went against everything within me, honestly, for a few minutes. Look, the bottom line is that this is literally the most mysterious road I have ever walked down with the Lord. But I cannot leave Him. Everything in me knows that He is good. And I'm not brainwashed or fearful or stupid: I know it. I know that I simply cannot see anything. So when I can't see anything ahead of me, and can only sort of make out the stuff behind and beside me because of the film of confusion that comes when I try to figure out why Ben died, I can only look up. That's the only place where there is no confusion. He has not changed. He still has Don and me in the palm of His hand. There is a peace inside Don and me that is supernatural. I cannot say that I have ever experienced such mercy in the face of what sometimes feels like punishment. It has to be God because I cannot manufacture the peace that passes understanding.

He poured Himself out on me as I stood there and I proceeded to cry the whole weekend-- sometimes from the heaviness of His spirit on me (like a blanket in front of a fireplace; sweetest heaviness) and sometimes because I am simply not finished grieving my son. But I could almost hear it, like the turning of iron bars in an old jail-- something shifted inside me. I don't dare name it. I have no idea what it was. But it was Him, and I'm learning to sit quietly and wait for Him in the face of things I do not understand. Trusting Him.

So today, Don is doing his own labor of love on a project I will tell you about soon, but I am here alone. I wanted to clean Ben's room alone this whole time. It's not a process that Don needs-- he is walking through things in his own way, and I am so grateful for the strength of our relationship and the friendship we have, where we can allow each other the space to grieve the ways that we need to, which also gives us room to grieve together the way we need to. I had no idea, as I've said so many times, how complex grief is. Some of it is solitary, some of it is communal. During the days (really, weeks) after his death, my mother, all four of our parents, and many of our close friends and family came every day after work to just sit with us. It was like I've heard of in the Jewish community, where friends come and sit with the grieving family and just mourn with them ("sitting shiva").

But there were times when I just needed to be alone. It usually happened at night, when I couldn't lie down on the bed and was sleeping sitting up (because of pain, but I was also weirdly afraid of the dark, and constantly reminded of the bassinet that was removed before I got home). I found, however, that too much time spent alone found me spiraling into so much darkness. Don never left me to that for any length of time. He took me for walks in the park and read to me from a book of cowboy short stories. When he needed time alone, he would drive.

And today is one of those days. My plan is to turn on worship music, sit in the middle of the floor, and fold the precious clothes that Ben never wore. I am armed with a breve cappuccino, a box of Kleenex, and a bottle of water. I will sing and I will cry and I will pray.

And when I am finished, I will walk into the next chapter. I'm not forgetting him, and I'm not done grieving him, but I must begin the process of pressing onward in this physical realm.

I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
Philippians 3: 12-14 (The Message)


wendymhall said...

I'm so proud of you,Sam. For so many things, but, for continuing to be real and for the love in you that, over and over again, blows me away. I believe He will meet you again today. With love, Wendy

Mizpam said...

I agree with Wendy. Thank you for sharing this part of the journey with us to also help us to know how to pray for you. I'm proud of you and how you're walking this out.
Much love to you dear friend. May you find the Comforter holding you in His loving arms. ~Pam

EAR said...

I am reminded in your words of so many things that I just can't even really say. One day I hope that we can share our stories over a cup of soothing coffee. Till then, I'll be walking with you and thanking god for you!

Melissa said...

Sam, I continue to pray for you and with you for guidance and strength and comfort that only our mysterious and wonderful God can supply. I want you to know I love you and you have never been far from my thoughts.

Tom said...

Hey Sammie- Amen on peace that we can't understand! He said 'My peace' I give to you. I'm still praying for you on your journey.