Anniversary, Dark Days and The Light of The World
Today is the 26th anniversary of our daughter’s death. You would think that after 26 years it would no longer hurt–but it does. There are some years when the date passes and I am hardly aware of it. This year it is very close to the surface of my consciousness. I suspect it’s because I know I will soon be losing my mother, too.
To be clear, I would not wish our daughter back again, that would be cruel. I believe she is with Jesus, in a place beyond tears, suffering, pain, and death. I can’t help but wish she had not died in such a degrading way, violently, alone, left on the cold, December dirt with no one to comfort her. The only human presence the vile man who murdered her. None of us would wish that on anyone. I realize putting that in print makes it very stark and will be hard to read, but when I am alone I think of these things.
Death is hard enough when it occurs on clean sheets, surrounded by those who love you, and medications to relieve some of the suffering. To have my darling daughter–a girl so gentle I don’t recall her ever raising her voice to anyone, so compassionate she reached out and had a special heart for the lonely, disenfranchised person in any room–die that way seems so wrong.
Though, she was shy herself, she managed to reach out to others who felt left out, a trait we only learned extended farther than we knew, after her death. Those people whose lives she touched, told us about the many ways she helped them feel included, one person saying, “She was the only one at school who ever made me feel special. She always smiled at me like I was someone.” The funny thing is, I remember Sarah telling me about that girl. The young lady was dropping out of school and it upset Sarah. She didn’t understand why someone would drop out of school and worried about the girl’s future.
I’ve often wondered why God allowed her murder. Why not me? I would gladly have changed places with her. She was a kinder, gentler person than I will ever be. She was so much smarter than I am and had so much potential, so many plans for her life. I’ve been told, (in fact it was Billy Graham who said this to me) that what I see as lost potential, God sees as a life completed. Hopefully, I’m remembering what he said accurately. I wasn’t exactly in my right mind at the time.
I can’t help but think she would have had a far greater impact on the world than I ever will. But I don’t get to tell God His business. Like Job, I have no answer when he asks, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?…Have you ever commanded the light to appear, caused the sun to rise in the east? Have you visited the storehouses of snow? Do you know where the hail comes from?” Like Job, I can only respond.
“I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.”
Unlike Job, I have not seen God with my eyes, but see ample evidence of his handiwork. I read the accounts in the Gospels of those who did see Jesus with their eyes. (And if you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father. John 14:9). I don’t know the end from the beginning. I don’t see the big picture. So I am left to walk by faith, trusting the evidence unseen by my eyes, but it is enough. Ultimately, I trust him to work out the business of his kingdom.
It’s hard to watch my mom suffer. Again, I would rather it were me. She was so sick again last night. I’m thankful for medicines that help her feel better. When the Hospice nurse visited today, Mom hid her face in her hands as we talked. I don’t know what was going on in her mind. I look for ways to comfort her but am not always sure how.
Since Thanksgiving she has gone from being able to walk from her bedroom to the kitchen to being unable even to hold her body upright in the wheelchair. She can’t stand or walk. She has lost all strength in the right side of her body.
Last night when she was so sick she asked me, “Please, may I sleep in my old bed?” I wish I could have said yes, but I can’t move her or turn her in a giant, king-sized bed that is too low to the floor for my back. I’m sure it is more comfortable than her hospital bed. Fortunately, the drugs enabled her to sleep though most of the night.
Sunday, in church, the lyrics of a song we sang, hit me like a blow to the chest. Tears clogged my throat and I couldn’t continue singing. The song was by Paul Baloche, “Offering.” The line that tugged at my heart is,
“The sun cannot compare to the glory of Your love
There is no shadow in Your presence
No mortal man would dare to stand before Your throne
Before the Holy One of heaven”
I thought about, “There is no shadow in your presence.” My only experience with light always produces a shadow. Whatever is between me and the source of light obstructs it, causing shadows. I believe that in John’s account of heaven in Revelation he attempts to describe in words an indescribable place suffused with light. The translation, The Message, puts it this way,
“… The City shimmered like a precious gem, light-filled, pulsing light…The wall was jasper, the color of Glory, and the City was pure gold, translucent as glass…But there was no sign of a Temple, for the Lord God—the Sovereign-Strong—and the Lamb are the Temple. The City doesn’t need sun or moon for light. God’s Glory is its light, the Lamb its lamp! The nations will walk in its light and earth’s kings bring in their splendor. Its gates will never be shut by day, and there won’t be any night.” Revelation 21:12-27MSG
There is physical light and shadow but there is also the symbolism that shadow represents, fear, suffering, loneliness, pain, and death. None of that will be there…no shadows at all! Amazing.
Not only is this month the anniversary of our daughter’s death, it is also when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. God entering our world so we can enter the light of his presence. That is our hope, the Light of The World.
Many your holidays be filled with light.
Below is the song I mentioned. There is a Christmas version of the same song, but the lyrics I referenced don’t come until the second verse. For that reason I chose this version.
Merry Caregiving Christmas,