Grief has layers, not unlike the onion. It creeps up on you, and the realization that you loved this person more than you had imagined hits us in the solar plexus. As the sons and daughters of a merciful and loving God, we firmly believe that our beloved has crossed over and is now home and pain free. Yet even in the knowing, we fight the reality that this person whom we adored and perhaps took for granted is no longer by your side, helping you to fight the good fight and ease your burden. You are better off for just having this kindred spirit in your life.
My dear friend Scott succumbed to cancer on September 22, 2019. We were very close, and I had cared for him in the last days. So it came as a shock when my husband phoned me this morning.
“Honey, I have some bad news,” he sighed.
I immediately thought of Scott.
“Umm, he died last Sunday.”
My breath caught. Last Sunday?
He spoke his comfort through the phone, and promised to stop in at lunch.
I don’t remember what I did after that, even if just hours ago. I called a friend and wept, openly. It was hard for her to make out my words, but her tender soothing meant the world to me. I ended up on a hike, and to be honest I shouldn’t have been driving. As I walked I spoke with Jesus, I spoke with my friend. His wife was never a fan of our friendship-going as far as thinking we were intimate and stalking me two Summers ago. On his death bed, Scott admitted to me that his wife had emotionally abused him for thirty five years.
“Sugar, you’re just emotional, you don’t mean that,” my voice broke, I felt the sting of fresh tears, this was all too much.
Long story short, he was dead serious. Towards the end his wife asked that I “STAY AWAY” even as her husband was begging me to stay. Hospice was long gone, he had no friends or family stopping in-his entire family kept working.
He was helpless.
“Scott, I can’t do this. I can’t be in your wife’s home against her will. I’m so terribly sorry,” I wrote in the text.
I’ll be okay. The last three words I heard.
My heart was ripped apart, I prayed for the Lord to have mercy on him, that he wouldn’t suffer, that his wife muster some compassion for him, not see him as a burden.
I drove to his property, where he had planted a rare maple tree. I could see the new bench by the tree, next to the pond. I walked half-way across the yard, then headed back to the jeep-then back to the bench. I didn’t care who saw me, I put my head down and wept. I stared as a maple leaf spiraled to the ground. I grabbed it. The rest of the day was a blur. I needed my husband, I didn’t want to be alone.
When Dwain didn’t answer the phone, I broke down. The only thing in life that remotely frightens me is the loss of my husband. My entire psyche shuts down at the mere thought of him not coming home. I rarely have these thoughts anymore, not since Jesus took a good part of my worry away. I truly do have that peace that surpasses understanding, but I railed at Jesus.
He understood. He knew that I had mourned the loss of each and every person I had loved in this life. One by one, my mother, father, best girl friend, and now Scott. I was estranged from my nieces and nephew-my sister put the Kibosh to any hope of a relationship with them years and years ago. A story for another time.
I hate myself when I take my pain out on Jesus. It wrecks me. My husband pulled in and I fell to my knees-apologizing for the bitter words that had spewed from my fat Irish mouth. I begged his forgiveness and asked for his mercy.
A few months ago I heard Field McConnel speak about monarch butterflies being a sign of God’s love and protection. It stuck with me, as there was a monarch out in the middle of Lake Pleasant the moment I spread my father’s ashes.
I had known in that moment it was a God thing.
I walked out on the deck to greet my husband, still sobbing, still unhinged.
My newest adoptee purred at my feet. She knew something was terribly wrong. I picked her up and held her close. She kissed me on every spot on my face, another blessing from above, Maybel is. I looked down into my garden, and my breath caught again. A perfect Monarch butterfly, right there before me, and in late September no less.
My tears of sadness turned to tears of joy within moments. I went back into the house, tried to find the momentum to do, to do something.
Dwain slammed the screen door. I looked up at him, as if to say, yes?
“Come see. The garden is full of monarchs.”
And just like that, my afflictions were eclipsed by His glory~