Five Minute Friday: Loss


Wow. I have to admit that when I saw Lisa-Jo’s topic for this week – and read her own heart-rending story – I was stunned. At our house, I have multiple generations sleeping under our roof in preparation for a wonderful weekend of celebration. Our eldest daughter is getting married on Saturday and we’re hosting the rehearsal dinner here tomorrow. We’re printing programs and slicing bread and wrapping silverware in colorful napkins and getting ready to mark this milestone event in a lovely and unique way. But this day…this day comes after several years of pain, grief, chronic illness and heartbreak. This day is a gift of grace for our girl after so much suffering, suffering that is, quite literally, indescribable. So…five minutes on this topic just about makes me twist in a knot. I have no idea how it will play out in five minutes – just five minutes – no editing, no rewriting. 

But Lisa-Jo has given us grace this week- grace to take as long as we need. Let’s see how long that is.

GO:

It has been a long season of loss in our family. About eight years of death, illness, devastating natural events, and personal heartache. 

Loss has shown up in lots of ways:
     – from things that seem inconsequential in the larger scheme of things (like having a tooth pulled!);
     – to terrifying natural disasters (like two wildfires, requiring evacuation both times); 
     – to startling, gut-wrenching medical diagnoses (like prostate cancer, pulmonary emboli, Parkinson’s disease, alcohol-induced heart damage, Asperger’s syndrome, 5 days in the NICU, a 4-year-old’s broken femur, Alzheimer’s disease); 
     – to the long, slow, slogging kind of ultimate loss, the kind that happens when you are losing someone dear – bit by bit by bit, one agonizing piece at a time. 

And we’ve been down every one of those roads during these years, some of them multiple times. Every single one.

Perhaps I should not be surprised by the sad fact that in the midst of preparing for the festivities of the weekend ahead, I said out loud, “I hope I can remember how to ‘do’ happy.” 

Which is not to say that we haven’t experienced grace, respite, laughter, gratitude, redemption and Presence in and around each experience of loss. 


It is to say that these years have formed in us all, maybe most especially in me, a posture of leaning, leaning into God certainly – and that is a good thing. But also, a pattern of leaning into the stiffness of the wild wind – finding in myself an almost ingrained pattern of ‘bucking up,’ of standing tall and facing into whatever the heck comes.  Because a lot of crap has come down the pike and that’s what I’ve learned to do – to stand here, as steadily as my weak knees and trembling heart will allow – and say, “By the grace of God, I will survive. We will survive.” 

So (and believe me, this is taking one heckuva lot longer than 5 minutes to formulate!!) …this weekend, I hope we discover that we have not lost the capacity to truly celebrate. 

That we will be able to look at two people who are deeply in love, who are grateful every minute of every day that God has given them to each other and that we will find ourselves smiling from somewhere deep inside, saying: “Oh YES, God is good – all the time. All the time, God is good.” 

And to really, really mean it, from our toes right on up. 

After so many years of enduring, of bracing for yet another blow, another reminder that life is delicate, fragile and so SO easily lost, I am praying that during these days we can let loose the fears, the tears and the sadness that we all carry in our hearts and even in our bodies. That we can release that ‘waiting for the other shoe to drop’ feeling and just plain revel in the truth that something beautiful is right here in front of us. Something full of life, not death. Something full of promise, not loss. Something full of grace and beauty and wonder. 

We will experience loss again – this much I know. There is no escape. It is part of our story as human creatures on planet earth. But right now, right here – in the middle of this particular part of our family journey…there is the gift of celebration. Let the party begin!


STOP


This actually took about an hour to hammer out but I didn’t edit much – just tried to write. Each word hurt. But each word also began to break through that self-protective wall I too often hide behind. Maybe as I sleep this night and as I work around our house and yard tomorrow, and take ‘the girls’ for mani-pedis, and do my small piece in the wedding itself, and work with my husband and my kids and my grandkids to clean things up after the reception on Saturday – maybe that wall will just plain crumble on down.


Oh, and pray for our kids as they try to get outta Dodge for a honeymoon – carmageddon is happening between their house and the airport and they need a miracle to get them to their flight! How many of you had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to try and make a 9:00 o’clock flight the morning after your wedding??

 Their engagement picture, Easter time.




 

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Comments

  1. This brought me to tears. Congratulations to you, and to your daughter on her coming wedding. I hope you are able to truly enjoy the magic of this day. You are right. God IS good. ALL the time. And sometimes he shows us just how good.

  2. Lovely Diana, mother of the cute bride . . . my thoughts and prayers are with you . . . asking the Lord to bring you multiple wonderful surprises this wedding week.

    Fondly,
    Glenda

  3. Wishing you and your family much, much joy as you celebrate the marriage of your daughter!

    Beautiful post.

  4. I pray that that wall will start to crumble this weekend and that you will truly enjoy this celebration. Congratulations to your daughter and your new son-in-law!

    And I give you credit–I wrote my post, but I’m not sure I can publish it.

  5. I BELIEVE you will be able to “do Happpy” for your daughter and her new husband. This was such a touching post.. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
    Beth

  6. Ah,friends – thanks so much for stopping by and offering encouragement. It’s early, we’re up and slowly moving around here, the bride-and-groom-to-be will arrive in an hour and we’ll get this thing started FOR REAL.

    @Jennifer – your pain is so very new and raw. I TOTALLY get your hesitation. Read it again, prayerfully, and see how the Spirit moves. Maybe this exercise was just for you this time. So if you don’t feel free in your own spirit yet – wait a while. But if you feel any mix of release along with that trepidation – put it out there. God will use it – you KNOW that God uses your writing, friend. But you’ll know whether the time is now or later. We’ll all wait with you.

  7. Do it! Do the happiness with abandon, from the “survival dance” to the “sacred dance.”

  8. Praying joy over every detail today–that everything will fall away and your heart will be light. Praying for laughter and happiness and buckets of blessings. Congratulations and love to you, my friend.

  9. Congratulations to your sweet girl, Diana. I’m guessing that today, you won’t be able to forget how “to do happy:. 🙂 Something about seeing our children smile that frees the heart.

    I had no idea how much loss your family has gone through recently. I love what you say about the leaning into Him. Yes, that’s how we must do it, isn’t it? Hugs to you, sweet lady. I’m guessing you’ve been holding a lot of this.

    Have a wonderful wonderful day.

  10. I’m late to this party….but I’m sure that God showed up right on time.

    I pray that happiness ambushed you and took over the day, yielding a beautiful celebration.

  11. You’ve endured much, dear one. Keep leaning hard into Jesus. Your posture to the Savior shows. I see Him all over you, my friend.

  12. I’m back from my wanderings and late to comment here, but I’m moved by your five minutes of sharing. After your ‘season of loss’ it would be easy to feel beaten down and permanently trampled but God is indeed good and provides us with resilience… or, in lieu of that, His own strength for us to lean into.

    In our lives it was unexpected open heart surgery for my husband, followed by the death of a daughter, and then my father’s Alzheimer’s, my own cancer… a litany of what seemed like unbearable catastrophes, but through which God provided grace and sustenance. He always does, doesn’t He?

    I don’t doubt God was there for your weekend celebration, too, and provided every blessing you could hope for.

  13. Wow! I hope you reveled in every minute of your daughter’s wedding (and I’m glad you weren’t legalistic and took the time to write!) I know, all-too-well, that bracing myself to stand against the wind, the waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is scary, abandoning that posture and learning to lean into God instead. I appreciated your comments over at my place about North Park. I’m hopeful it will be a good fit for my son. Blessings, Diana.

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