A while back, before I started this blog, my pastor and I were talking about writing down my experiences with God. He encouraged me to write them down even if I didn't put them on a blog. He said it would be a lasting memorial about what God had done in my life.
A chaplain who worked with a hospice organization came up to me and joined in the conversation. He said if my intent was to share so I could be an encouragement to other people, then I needed to make the decision to be honest. Completely honest. That I needed to share the bad times along with the good.
He said, "Hurting people can spot a fake a mile away."
So, here's some honesty. . .
The first Easter weekend after Ethan was hurt, I found myself laying face down on my front porch . . . crying, kicking my feet, and beating my fists on the concrete.
I wanted to die.
Of course, I didn't want to die. I didn't want to leave Jim or Seth or Ethan. I just wanted the pain to stop. I wanted to stop hurting. And, I saw no way that was going to happen if I was still on this earth. No way at all.
A person grieving is like a glass half full of water. There's part of you that is walking around with the pain of missing the person you love. The pain of not being able to talk to that person, to have an intimate relationship with him. The pain of loss, of not laughing together. The pain of separation.
But you are able to cope with it. There's still some empty space in the glass of grief that lets you function. To do what you need to do. To let you be there for other people.
But then life comes along with a pitcher waiting to be poured. A pitcher that's filled with memories. A pitcher that's filled with loneliness. A pitcher that's filled with thoughts about how a holiday should be spent. And, when it's poured into your glass, it's too much.
The water flows over the top of the glass. Your glass of grief can't hold it. It spills out. You can't hold it in any longer.
It's just too much.
And, that's what happened to me that day. There was no more room for all my pain.
Past memories of Easter with Ethan came flooding into me. Memories of me getting him dressed and putting him in front of cartoons so I could get dressed. . . and coming back into the room with him sitting in his underwear because he didn't like his church clothes. Memories of him and Seth dying Easter eggs. Seth being so meticulous about not mixing the colors and making a mess, and Ethan thinking that that was the only way to do it. Mix the colors. Make a mess. Make sure your hands are dyed along with the eggs.
Memories of Easter baskets, hiding eggs in the front yard, and taking pictures before church. Easter pants with pockets stuffed with Bubble Gum Tape, Big League Chew, Sweet Tarts, and maybe a few Slim Jims.
Loneliness also flooded in. Holidays were for families. Seth was out of town that weekend, and Jim and I were home alone with Ethan. Ethan was still in a coma. He was laying in our kitchen dining area in a hospital bed, unaware that he was at home.
I'm sure if my family had known how hard the weekend was going to be for me, they would have been there. And I'm sure if they had asked me, and they probably did, if I wanted them to come down for Easter, I would have said, "No. I'm okay".
But I wasn't.
There was something else that flooded into my glass of grief that day. Spring. We had begun this journey with Ethan at the beginning of December, which is the beginning of winter for people in northern Florida. Now, that had past. It was another season.
How many more change of seasons would I experience without Ethan? How many more holidays?
I found myself overflowing with grief. There was no room for any more hurt. I had more than I could hold. And, when it began to overflow, I found myself on the floor of the porch unable to see or feel anything except the pain. And it was just too much.
I was so full of pain because at that moment, there was no room in my heart for hope. And, "hope deferred makes the heart sick. . . " (Proverbs 13:12) And mine was sick.
That happened a lot. There were lots of times when life filled me with too many memories. When there was so much pain that it overflowed. When I would find myself on the floor in a heap of hopelessness. When I found myself heart-sick.
But I can tell you today, that God has always been faithful. He has always picked me up off the floor. He has always poured His grace into me and taken away the overflow. He has always breathed hope into me. He has always reached down to me with compassion and understanding.
He has always been a safe place where I could pour out my heart. A place to empty the pain, the hurt, the fear. (Psalm62:8b)
He has also been a place of forgiveness.
When I find myself getting up out of a heap of unbelief. . . of lost hope, I can easily find myself feeling guilty and ashamed. Ashamed that I fell once again. But Jesus reminds me that He didn't come to condemn me, but to save me. Jesus reminds me that He is my High Priest that understands every feeling and every disappointment I have. He reminds me that He knows grief. That He knows loneliness.
He reminds me that He knows everything.
Jesus knew something else that day out on my front porch. He knew that in just a few weeks that He was going to give Ethan back to us. Jesus knew that the first word Ethan would say after four and a half months would be the name of his dog, Bayley. He knew that the next Easter we would be sitting in church with Ethan. He knew all the laughter and all the joy we would experience as a family in the years to come. He knew about all the new memories we would make. He knew all the holidays and all the change of seasons we would share with Ethan.
He knew it was right around the corner.
In many ways, we won't see what's around the corner until we see Jesus face to face. Phillip Yancey said in one of his books that Hebrews 2:8 can be a source of great disappointment. Disappointing only because we don't see the end of the verse. "For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under him. BUT NOW WE DO NOT YET SEE ALL THINGS PUT UNDER HIM."
We expect Jesus to do it all now. And when He doesn't, we don't understand. But the Bible tells us that there are things we are going to have to wait to see.
I have a feeling that when we see Jesus . . . when we see how He has worked everything out. . . when we see how He has put all things together for our good, we will look back and think, " Man. . . I had no idea that all of that was right around the corner!"
But, He did.
He knows everything He has for us.
And He knows what's around every corner.