My wife would be pleased with me. As I do far too infrequently, I uncluttered my desk today. You should see how nice it looks. In so doing, however, I came across another old stack of sympathy cards sent months ago from friends and strangers. I read through them, and found myself lonesome for a surprising time, the day my Denise went on to glory. In a previous piece I wrote about how, crossing the barrier of forty days of mourning made me fear that I would miss Denise all the more. I suggested that the more I mourned the more it seemed she was with me. Turns out I was right.
As I read through those cards I was taken back to that first day. Denise passed very early on Sunday morning, December 18th. After taking care of necessary details in the nursing facility I headed home to tell my children. After we talked and cried and hugged I got myself cleaned up, and headed off to church. My thought was that what I needed most of all at that moment was to meet with Jesus, and to be reminded of His grace, His gospel. Turns out I was right.
As I sat there that morning however, I didn’t have the sense that she had left me. Indeed I felt more like we were going to go through this together, that she would walk me through my mourning. She would speak to me the words of life. She would hold me when I could not sleep. She would encourage me to do the next thing. She would remind me to give thanks. Though I do not pretend to know if she sees me. I believed she would make certain that I sensed her with me. Turns out I was right.
As I look back on that morning, however, somehow now I look back alone. Of course I still cry. I still mourn, even as I type. I miss her laughter, her hand, her beautiful eyes. But somehow as time moves on what I end up missing is the comfort and closeness she somehow gave even after she had gone. She doesn’t sit beside me when I’m alone in the car anymore. She doesn’t look over my shoulder when I am typing and crying alone anymore. Somehow the more time passes, the farther she is gone, not because I am forgetting her, but because I am remembering her. The great heartbreak is that she is now becoming my past, rather than my ever present.
Denise was carried by Jesus out of the valley of the shadow of death. She now dances with Him on the mountain of the lightness of life. She has, rightly, wisely, and through the very love of our Savior, left me. And I feel lost. By His grace, however, I have a path to follow. For His pierced feet leave bloody prints all the way out of the valley, all the way up the mountain. I will follow Him, who promised to be with me, even until the end of the age. He is a blessed man to dance with her. I am a blessed man to follow Him.