Life doesn’t stop. Even when our world is caving in, life keeps going. I look at the calendar, and I’m reminded of the past.
Today or tomorrow hits seven months since my best guy friend lost his wife. My youth pastor was in town for a region-wide event at my college. He and I were walking across campus to College Church and we were met by one of my friends. She was crying. She told us what happened. We couldn’t believe it. It couldn’t soak into our heads. It didn’t make sense. A car accident. Icy roads. His wife didn’t make it. I called my mom, but couldn’t stop crying long enough to tell her so I handed the phone to my youth pastor. My mom started crying. We were standing in the parking lot, all crying. Two strangers (youth workers there for the event) came to us, asked what had happened and hugged us. We all just stood around in this little clump. I traveled back home for Easter, but not really for Easter. For the funeral. I visited my best guy friend in the hospital along with my other high school best friends, but he doesn’t remember it or anything that was said. Now he is working all the time, and is he still always on my mind and in my prayers, which sounds like such a cliché thing to say, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and everything and how precious and fragile life can be. And how I must value the time I have with the ones I love.
Seven months later and he’s sitting alone.
Tomorrow hits the marker of five months since my birthday. It was my birthday when I received a text message that simply said, “Happy Birthday.” Nothing to alert the media about, I had been receiving a humble amount of Happy Birthday text messages all day long. However, this text message started a chain of text messages which turned into a series of phone calls and eventually, a relationship. But, similar to fireworks, it was gripping and fascinating but short-lived. Years from now, I will probably look back and remember good things: music (mostly music we didn’t agree on, but some that I started listening to and now really enjoy), that donut shop where I had the best iced coffee of my life thus far, riding on the back of his Harley. (It feels weird to try to compare this to death, because it is no where near the same emotions, but there are many kinds of loss. All loss is the death of something. So, to those who feel their emotions are not valid, I’m telling you they are. Those tears you are crying? Do not be ashamed of them.)
Five months later and I’m sitting alone.
Today hits three months since my best friend lost her boyfriend. I got the phone call. It was the middle of the night. I don’t know what goes through the mind of someone who takes his life. But I remember the phone call. My best friend was not able to breathe, much less tell me what was going on, so she handed the phone to the person she was with and she told me what had happened. I went upstairs to my mother’s bedroom and just cried. I told her what had happened. When someone is gone like that I just don’t know how you can really ever wrap your mind around it. I remember meeting him just the month before, we were all together celebrating my best friend’s birthday. Then came that phone call, and nothing has been the same.
Three months later and she’s sitting alone.
Except not. Because we are not alone.
He isn’t sitting alone, I’m not sitting alone, and she isn’t sitting alone. None of us are alone. We are surrounded by people who love us. We are covered by the grace of a God who loves us more than words can describe.
I tell these stories, though I question whether or not I really have the right, because for the most part, they are not my stories to tell. Yet, I believe we are all connected and your story is my story and all our stories are connected and are God’s story and God’s story is our story. It is this loop of connectedness where your life runs into mine and we are not the same, but we are all together.
We are faced with the question: “What are we supposed to do now?” Pick up the pieces? We don’t even want to move. I believe we are to love. We are to spend our time loving others, but most importantly, I believe we need to love ourselves in these moments. We need to give ourselves some grace. We need to allow ourselves to hurt, to feel pain, to cry, to pray and to not pray.
We need to love ourselves. We need to breathe. In and out. Even when it hurts and it feels like your lungs are enclosed. When it is dark, sometimes we are not supposed to move. Life doesn’t stop, but we are to rest in the love of God. In these moments, we are enfolded in the arms of Christ.