It’s over four and a half years since Mark died and there are still days when I watch a DVD, or see a photo of Mark, or am in a situation regarding the girls that I wish Mark could be there for, and all of a sudden the grief wraps around my heart and squeezes tightly again. My breathing becomes shallow and tears start stinging my eyes.
Messages written on Mark’s casket
Unbelievable, I think to myself, that I can still feel the pain of his death so far down the track and yet I can’t deny what happens; there I stand one minute, seemingly composed, the next a tear stained mess, which totally frustrates me as now I am wasting all that beautifully applied make up.
It’s the funny things that set me off, too. Tonight it was watching Jasmine be part of the vocals in the worship team at our church, a sight that would have made her musical dad so proud.
Last night it was watching old video footage of Mark and his band, seeing him alive and healthy, and playing his guitar which was his favourite thing. For a brief moment in time I forget he is dead and then BOOM my stupid brain reminds me and the grief pulls tight around my heart.
To add to that moment was my beautiful 17-year-old watching it and then looking at me with her big blue eyes and stating, “My dad was so cool!” She was three when Mark was diagnosed and she has no memory of a well daddy.
Yes, that moment broke my heart again; his own flesh and blood has no memory of this except via video.
Misha and I at her 21st birthday dinner.
Added to that, this week our eldest daughter turns twenty-one and Mark is not here with me to celebrate the gorgeous, vivacious, outgoing young adult that has emerged and to remember that amazing, scary and overwhelming day when we both became parents for the very first time. Again I am washed over with sadness at the greatness of our loss.
I feel so stupid crying uncontrollably over his death now. People must think, surely she has gotten over it.
And yes, there has definitely been healing. God has made whole many pieces of this once shattered heart, but still there are those moments, those days when…
I want to scream at the unfairness of raising four girls on my own.
I want to shake my fist at the heavens that Mark is not here to see and enjoy our beautiful daughters.
I want to stomp my feet that I am never going to have a 40th wedding anniversary.
I want to have a tantrum that I am the family’s sole provider.
I want to lash out at a world that tells me to get a grip, because there are days I seriously don’t want to get a grip.
Sometimes I don’t want to rejoice or be glad.
Sometimes I think, “This is a dumb day,” even if God made it.
And there are plenty of days that trying to be content in any circumstances is just a big joke.
Yes I have those days where I go into my pity party tent and I camp out. I make myself a big cup of coffee and I eat a ridiculous amount of chocolate and I settle in.
I know what you are thinking, ‘Man she is pretty pathetic,’ and, yes, you are right, there are times when I am actually really pathetic!
The fact is, life is actually hard for numerous people: debt, disabilities, illness, separation, divorce, gambling, alcoholism, addiction, wayward teenagers, poverty etc are part of many people’s lives.
It can look like it all pretty much sucks and we could let it consume us. I could let it all consume me… but
I know my God and I have seen first-hand what He can do in and to a life surrendered to Him. And people, it’s pretty darn awesome.
One of the things I love most about the bible is that it acknowledges that people have bad days. Look at what King David of Israel wrote,
I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing,
Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord.
I am a living testament to this scripture. This is what God has done and is still doing when I have my days of despair and go to pity party central. I wait for Him, I cry to Him, I turn to Him and let out all my raw emotions (seriously, nothing is held back) and what does my loving heavenly Father do? He lifts me up (again!) out of my despair, He gives me encouragement, strength, peace and He puts joy back in my heart and mind.
Hopefully, like this Psalm says, others see it or, like you, read about it and are amazed at what God is capable of and then they and you too, will put your trust in the Lord and watch Him do the exact same thing for you.