Living in the face of loss…

I leaned back in my lawn chair, holding my wriggling toddler close.
On the stage only a few feet from me, the music began.
The father held a guitar, and the mother and daughters mics.
The song began and music danced around us and swirled
into the swaying branches over head. 

I knew the basic sketch of their story.
The three heart transplants. Bouts of cancer.
The sudden death of a teenage son.
I knew I would cry. But maybe just a little.
But I didn’t expect the barrage of emotion that enveloped me.
Knocked me off my feet, beyond any form of control.
Tears at first stung my eyes, then streamed down my cheeks.
The back of my hand soon saturated, my daughters’s dress soaked.
My nose ran. Poured uncontrolled. Snot. Gross.
This thing of grief is a messy, ugly thing.
We lose all control, all reserve, all presentation.
“Daniel,” I choked, “maybe I should take Tirzah out?” hoping for an escape.
I looked into his eyes, and saw a mirror of my own face. 

Isaac has been gone over four years now.
His memory is part my every day, part of who I am.
His story is a vital ingredient of who God is making me into,
the lessons he learned and the venture for truth
he was on is now part of who I am. I am keenly aware this.
Pain has been as real as breathing, loss as much a part of life as love. 

And here, under the trees with the story and music around us,
the scab over the pain was peeled back. We felt the depth of that pain again.
But we have to live. We have to be willing to get up and face a new day, again.
To live in the face of loss. Its breath taking. Gut wrenching. Seemingly impossible.

How to live life with all your energy, to smile at a sunrise,
to see the gleam of dew in a cobweb,
the glimpse of heaven in your husband’s eyes, when life is so fleeting? 

A friend wrote me recently, in the face of losing her father,
“…Suddenly, death feels more certain than life does… Somehow, I think the hardest thing right now is to give myself permission to get excited about living. Life feels so transient – so easy to lose…”

In this gasping place of utter inability, utter weakness, we see who we really are.
We find that even the breath that we take each moment comes from His hand.
Our very existence is a gift, moment by moment.
But how to scrape ourselves out of this pile of ashes and do even the most basic of life’s requirements,
with the breath knocked out of us?
How is it possible?
How can He expect us to live?
Really live?

I told Daniel the next day,
“I wonder if God wants to use Isaac’s story like that?”
picturing his journey retold to people also searching and at the end of their ropes.
But Daniel looked over at me,
“I think God wants to use YOUR story.”

I stared straight ahead, feeling stunned. So vulnerable.
It’s so much easier to tell someone else’s story,
when their last chapter has been written.
But my life is still unrolling,
my heart still deep in the throws of questions and discoveries.
Issues being addressed. Learning to live. To love. 

But it’s true. God wants to use me. Today.
Not that I am speaking to a crowd in a prison or some captive audience.
But today, I will touch a few lives. Even a few.
My children. A friend here. A sister there.

My life, my history, my losses and my gains
are all part of God’s mind blowing plan for me.
For the purpose that he created me for.
And he has all the grace and strength that I could possibly need, for this,
my next breath. 

Here’s to your purpose, the plan on your life.
Embrace it.
Dance in the assurance that even the hard things are for your beautifying.
To further illustrate to those all around you, God’s beauty.
To remind us all that eternity lives in our hearts.
Here and now.

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6 thoughts on “Living in the face of loss…

  1. This is perhaps the most beautiful and poignant piece you’ve ever written. It touches me on many levels this morning. Over the years, I have had several VIVID dreams of one of my brothers dying. It’s always the same brother. Just the other night I had one that I remember very clearly and during the whole dream I felt the weight of his loss, as if he really were gone. I remember in the dream that I was allowed to see him as a child (perhaps in a vision, like in A Christmas Carol?) and I ran up to his little four year old self and gazed at him and said, ” I miss you.” That sadness I experienced in my dream was deeper than anything else I had ever felt in life. Of course, I know that loss that appears when you sleep cannot truly compare to loss that reappears every time you wake up… But somehow reading your words on the heels of that dream has allowed me to come a little closer to your heart. Thank you, again, for sharing in such a raw way. Your story – YOUR story – is already being used to point me upwards in such a powerful way.

  2. Don’t even know what to say Melissa… I cried the whole way through. You wrote it so beautifully… so profound. Thank you for being vulnerable! It truly blessed my day. I’m so thankful for friends who “get” it.

  3. You have a beautiful gift of putting thots, realit on paper. The pain, the deaths in our live shape who we r in a profound way. Loved ones pass, miscarriage after miscarriage …. It leaves a heart broken and grasping for hope… But God has a plan I don’t see- a future and a hope. Thanks, Melissa, for being vulnerable and sharing reality- a side so many try to hide. Hugs for your day!

  4. Melissa, thanks for sharing this. You put into words so beautifully what I can only feel but didn’t know how to express. The timing is perfect as we are walking through the first year anniversary of Christopher’s death. It’s been such an emotional week, leaving me feeling so very raw and vulnerable. I love the fact that God brings beauty out of the ashes of our dreams, but the painful process doesn’t happen automatically. We have to choose to allow Him to do His work. Thank you for being so vulnerable and honest. This blessed my week.

  5. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing beautiful, God-breathed inspirations. I love every post, but I especially love the ones that address the journey of grief. Living in the face of loss…Few people have put words to emotions that well up within my own heart; few people so eloquently write of the deep pain of loss. You’re ahead of me in the journey, for I’m just nearing the one-year mark of Nathan’s death. I’ve grieved and questioned and floundered more this year than I could have imagined, but I, too, am trusting God to create beauty from these ashes.
    I want you to know that YOUR story does make a difference for me. It’s somehow comforting to know that even after 4 ½ years, you still keenly miss Isaac. That the memory of his presence doesn’t vanish. It’s reassuring to see that someone else out there is trying to believe that God is good even when circumstances don’t feel good, and that you’re choosing to trust Him. Thank you for sharing YOUR story; God is using YOUR story–of learning to live and love—to inspire me.

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