Grief always hits in unexpected moments. I know this because my sister Brenda passed away almost 8 years ago, very suddenly and unexpected. Her absence has left a hole in my life. I never got to say goodbye or tell her how much she meant to me. One moment she was there, the next she was gone. At the time, we had just adopted 3 children, aged18 months, 2 1/2, and 10 1/2. I was overwhelmed with the demands of these children, along with our two biological ones. I think that helped me get through the shock of losing Brenda. I don’t think I’ve ever let myself really grieve. Someone has always needed me to be strong.
My parents both went into a nursing home straight from the hospital this past December, without ever going back to their home to take care of things. They both have Parkinson’s Disease, my dad the more advanced. We were able to have Christmas and to bring them to their home for that day. We took out their Christmas decorations and china and did it up right with our best family recipes. All 16 of our immediate family was there. My niece Jennifer had created a family DVD from pictures taken as long as 65 years ago. It was like trying to capture a moment in time because I knew it would never happen again. My parents would not be able to live in their home. This past week I took my mom back to her home to pick out the few things she could fit in their one room at the nursing home. Deciding what few clothes they might need, what select knick knacks she had room for and the few pictures that were their very favorites. She only cried once, and as I held her I told her it was okay to grieve, to know it was all unfair. I felt our role reversal deepen, me now the strong one, my mother the weak.
I packed up most of their pantry staples and brought them home with me. As I began trying to find places in my cabinets I began to cry. Tears of sadness, loss and unfairness. What a silly thing to cry over…cream of mushroom soup, sliced peaches and baked beans! I’m the baby of the family. I shouldn’t have to do this. My sister Brenda should be here to cry with me and worry with me, to make decisions with me. And she’s gone, too. This is the part of the grieving process I don’t want to face – the hurt and pain inside. Life isn’t fair. I accept that. Life is short. I try to live each day with that in mind. But sometimes it just hurts. That’s when I have to remember God is the One who carries me when I’m too weak to go on. He’s the one who can heal the brokenhearted and restore peace and joy. He’s the Savior who is always there, whether I deserve it or not. Thank God that I know the One who treasures me. And so tonight I grieve.