This has been a difficult year due to the deaths of both my dad (January ’07) and mom (May ’07). Experiencing all of this in the space of four months has given me new insights into the mourning process. There is a feeling of emptiness when it comes to meaningful thought.
There is a great deal going on in our lives at this time. We’re building a home (stressful enough in its own space) with the intent of creating a place for our family to build memories that will last for generations. The implications of such a move are vast and more than I’m going to express here. Losing both parents in the middle of that process places an urgency on the matter of proximity to family. At the same time it puts our new home into eternal perspective which almost trivializes it.
We had a great family while I was growing up. No it wasn’t perfect, but by the standards of this world I was incredibly blessed to be raised as I was. That blessing was experienced in the context of very modest financial resources. I won’t say we were poor, because I’ve observed poverty all over the world. I can say we lived modestly in the context of our community and friends. There were lots of things our friends were able to have and do that we just couldn’t afford. In our home, Mom and Dad loved each other and were not shy about expressing their love in front of us. There was no doubt by me or my two siblings that we were loved equally by both of our parents. We have a lot of great memories that gave us character and make us the people we are today.
By those standards, we are building a place for our family that would be defined by some as living large. The point is that in the context of this year’s events, the tension being self-inflicted in creating our new home is unnecessary. Whether we have this place completed as planned or an apartment is irrelevant. The important point is that there is a home where our children and grandchildren feel loved and cared for. All the “stuff” is icing on the cake.
The grieving process is just that; a process. We are human beings. My wife and I are people of faith. Over the years God has built our faith in many significant ways. We know that our parents are spending eternity with our heavenly Father and we will see them when our turn comes to pass from this life here on earth. I think too often evangelical Christians give the impression that this faith somehow exempts them from the sense of loss and emptiness when people they love are promoted to heaven. Very quickly we like to respond to expressions of sympathy with statements saying that we know where they are and all is well with the world. After all a person of strong faith should not be shaken.
While our faith is not shaken, our day-to-day existence in this world is very different. I’ve lost two friends, counselors and advisors and prayer warriors. I’ve also lost two people who needed me to reach out to them, to advise them from my current experiences, to ensure they were getting the right medical attention, to make sure they continued to treat each other as they had in their younger more expressive days. I believe that to love and be loved is a basic human need. That love includes needing others and others needing you. Therein lies the void that is created when two people who brought you into this world move into eternity.
I celebrate their current life while knowing that my children and grandchildren will never fully experience the full benefit of their love that only time and life together could have provided. My family and children’s families are their fruit. We’re going to represent them well by continuing in the faith they seeded in our lives and by providing loving homes filled with life-long love and commitment to our spouses and children.