If you don't think it's hard a year and a half after the death of my son, you're crazy.
I say that because somehow, I thought it would be... not easier, but different.
But grief... I remember my earlier thoughts on grief and I still see so much of the same character today that I did when we were newly acquainted. Grief is sneaky. It hides-- it figures out that you're sort of exhausted with its presence and it creeps back into the shadows for a while-- a week, a day, a couple of months-- and then when you least expect it, "Hulloooo! I'm back! Where's dessert?"
Tonight, we're having dear friends over for a Christmas gathering. Don and I are scurrying around the house, mostly happy-- we've had people over at least once or twice a week for the last couple of weeks so we're mostly ready for company-- listening to Hillsong's "God He Reigns (Live)" album at full blast. "Mostly happy"-- always a little on the verge of tears this Christmas season, always feeling a little tender, always feeling a little sad, it seems. Tonight, while folding towels before our friends get here, I realize the words that I am singing...
i don't care what the world throws at me now
it's gonna be alright!
cause i know my God saved the day
and i know His word never fails
and i know my God made a way for me
salvation is here
salvation is here and He lives in me
salvation is here
and He died to set me free...
Jesus, you are alive and you live in me...
And I have to worship. Right in the middle of that little cloud of melancholy.
He set me free. Oh friend, oh childless mother, oh friendless one, oh motherless child, oh woman... He set us free from all this sadness. I mean, we can walk through it without fear of melting into it. We weep our way through the grief, but we are not invisible in it. He's made a way. He walks with us. We are not alone. Death is not the end. Life here is not all there is. He doesn't live there. He lives here.
One of my kids asked me today-- totally out of nowhere-- "Mrs. Swaney, do you love Jesus?" OH YES! My heart leapt inside me when I was able to throw my head back and laugh and say, "Oh YES, I love Jesus!"
Oh yes, I love me some Jesus.
And here is my prayer tonight-- just like it is every time I worship, ever since Ben changed everything-- Praise You Lord, in all things. Even for this. Even in this. Even this. And Lord, I give You my son again. Oh God, how I wish we had a little partner running around here this Christmas. How I grieve His absence. How I wish for the frantic schedule of my friends who are mommies. But I bless You for the grace You've filled my life up with. I thank You for the mercy that You have poured out on me, and I thank You that this life is not the end of the story. And I pray, Oh God, that the bigger thing that You are weaving through this deep loss, this seemingly bottomless grief, would bring You eternal glory. This temporary grief. This earthly sadness that will end in a joyous reunion-- with You and all the saints, my little guy right there in the middle-- that all of this will bring You glory somehow.
That if one person can see that it is possible to sustain a great loss and not lose your faith... to still live and still love You deeply... Oh Jesus, I give it all to You. If You had asked, I don't think I would have been able to say yes like Abraham did, so I thank you for not asking. I thank you for all the mercy You poured out before and after.
I love you, King. Thank You for Christmas. Thank You for Your friendship. For Your sacrifice. That You see me. That You weep with me. And thank you for bringing it out every time I worship You-- I'm crowded with Your presence, You're already holding me before the tears come.
How I love You and long for You.
Bless Your name...