As I write this today, I still have a mother. A mom who is on her feet, cooking, decorating and loving her husband of nearly 50 years. I also have a mom who travels from doctor’s appointment to doctor’s appointment, needs help bathing, has shrunk five inches in the last two years and has a hard time holding the deep conversations we once held. These women are one in the same.
Her diagnosis came nearly two years ago and we knew that unless some other unfortunate incident took place, this would eventually take her life. These two years have been a roller coaster. When one day is better than the one before, we have celebrated with laughter, tears and silly emojis on our phones. When one day is worst than the day before, we take deep breaths, reassuring each other that tomorrow will be a new day and that life is just hard.
I have been grieving for two years.
I have grieved the loss of loved ones, I have grieved the loss of a friendship and I have grieved the loss of a dream. This is a new place for me. This is a grief that involves small bits and pieces of someone that no one else would ever know about. Our chats about being a wife. The parenting advice she was once so wise about and eager to share. The shopping and lunching we were enjoying as I became an empty-nester. It seems each new month is absent of something she once was.
Have you been here? Are you here now? This place of grieving an anticipated loss?
Maybe your business is shutting down soon. Your divorce proceedings are almost finished. The church you grew up in is slowly disbanding. Your best friend is moving away before long.
Whether the puzzle before us is disassembled one piece at a time, or is raked back into its box with one fail swoop, loss is hard.
In John 11, there’s a story of Jesus learning that his friend Lazarus is sick and on the verge of dying. When he is informed that his friend has passed away, Jesus waits two more days before heading back in his direction. By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus has been dead for four days.
The scene is a little busy. Many Jews had come to comfort Lazarus’ two sisters so I imagine there was quite a crowd. Lazarus’ sisters run out to greet Jesus and tell Him that if He had arrived sooner, they would have no need to grieve as Jesus could’ve saved him.
It’s right here that we read “Jesus wept” (John 11:35 NIV).
In the midst of handfuls of people standing around mourning, Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He knew that these sisters would soon dry their tears and his friend would be given more time on earth. And yet, Jesus weeps.
The Bible doesn’t tell us why He cries, but I have my own theories.
He weeps while He watches people He cares about hurting. He weeps because this is the life we live here on earth. A world full of death and life and grief and celebration, sometimes found all in the same day. He weeps because this grief isn’t something that was in His original plan for His people.
The heartache that we flesh out as we anticipate the end of someone precious, or something precious, Jesus felt this. He knows it all too well. He knows who will accept His love and He knows who will reject it. He knows who will treasure each day with Him and he knows who will keep their backs turned towards Him. He knows life and death and what it is to anticipate the loss of people who He loves so dearly.
And so I keep that in mind.
That what I am experiencing is nothing new to my Lord and He is with me as I grieve. This path of grief has been trod by many who have gone before me, but it is Christ Himself who blazed the trail.
I breath in the fragrance of hope and comfort that lingers on this road. And remember that even though I’ve been given the gift of knowing loss will eventually come, I’m going to weep, just as Jesus did.