First, thanks so much to Catherine for her guest post over the last few days. I am so thankful for her continued perspective and encouragement in my life as I walk this long journey Home. And that’s how it feels right now. Very long. Last year on my birthday I definitely thought to myself, “Wow, I’m getting old!” Not, like, super old, but recent birthdays have felt more like I’m moving further away from something I love, rather than closer towards. It has felt like life is getting short. Up until this last birthday of course.
Now…I look forward to it. Now I view every birthday as one year closer. Suddenly, Earth has lost a little of its hold on my heart. Before Charlie, there were times when I would hear the ticking of a particularly loud clock in our house, and I would feel myself getting more sad with each passing tick. Tick. One second gone. Tick. Tick. Tick. Three seconds more. Gone forever, just like that! That is what I used to feel when I heard those solemn ticks. I would find myself actually spiraling into despair if I dwelled on them too long.
But not now. Now I get to the end of each day, and I think, “I did it! I’m one day closer.” It’s not that life is now meaningless. These last few weeks have felt deeply meaningful, and the raw feeling of loss has made the sweet moments even richer. Yesterday we went on a family hike in the gorgeous green hills by our home. It was so great to be together as a family…but one of us was not there. It was so much fun to enjoy God’s incredible creation together. But I kept wishing that Charlie was close to me, wrapped up warm and tight in my Ergo baby carrier. It was so fun to start off the hike with our classic family cheer…“Gooooooo….Zeller’s!” But one tiny hand, one little voice…was missing from our cheer. And he always will be. He is just not here. And there is no way around that hurt.
A part of me is afraid that I will never again experience a moment of real happiness, without feeling this new sadness too. And the other part of me is terrified that I will. I’m afraid that I will start to bury this sorrow in my heart, and move on like Charlie never happened. Move on because it hurts too much to remember that he did. To remember that he is missing, and my heart is broken now.
Today as we were hiking, I happened to glance up at the beautiful sunlit hills just over the horizon. Then I noticed how they were cut off from us by an ugly barbed wire fence. On the other side of the fence there was brightness and beauty that we could physically see, but could not quite get to. As I looked at the view in front of me I was struck by what a great picture it is of my life right now.
I am stuck here, in a sometimes lovely, but often dark and blurry place, and right in front of me are glimpses of a bright and glorious place just beyond. I can’t get there yet, because there is an ugly fence that cuts me off. The fence of death. I’ve always had a deep fear of that fence. Always wished it wasn’t there. Always wanted to avoid it at all costs. Always known it was excruciatingly painful. And it is. Death, like a sharp, barbed wire fence…almost always hurts. There are very few deaths that do not involve physical pain, and great anguish for the soul.
But for the first time in my life I feel like I have been given a raw glimpse of the beauty that lies beyond. The beauty that makes it worth it. I have been given a glimpse, because someone I love so much is suddenly not here. It is that quick. One ticking of the clock…and he was gone. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” The place on the other side of the fence. The place where the child I love so much spent the day hiking with His Savior. The place where someday I will too.
As I listen to the clock tick quietly on I thank God for my precious son who has taught me what is true. What has always been true. That those ticks are a countdown to something wonderful. I know there will most likely be agonizing pain involved in getting through that fence, but for those of us who know the Prince of Heaven…infinite joy is waiting there. And Charlie is waiting there with Him.
In this my heart finds hope for today. And something to wake up for tomorrow. An opportunity to know Him more…the someone Wonderful I am moving towards as the clock ticks on.