The Question...

It was just a quick encounter...a few short minutes in the midst of a terribly harried day at the end of an incredibly hectic week...but they've come to mind often in the two days since.

I don't even remember exactly what we were talking about at the time...something about plans not always going right and not being as on top of things as usual, I think.

"My dad passed away a couple of months ago, and...." I don't remember the end of that sentence, either...I just remember a sudden feeling of connection and understanding. "I understand...I've been there. I lost my dad three years ago."

The conversation changed then, in direction and tone. "Does it ever get any better?" she asked. My heart ached in understanding as she shared a touch of her experiences with this grief. My reply was honest: "It took me a year and a half. It was really, really hard for a *long* time...but it *did* finally begin to get better. I think it took me longer than some people though...my dad and I were really close." "We were, too," she said, and shared about how often she talked to and saw him. We talked for another minute or two...snippets of experiences of the grief that overwhelms at the oddest times, the hole that such a loss leaves, and the way the whole world seems to change.

As we stood there, I realized that three years ago, I could never have imagined being able to say, "Yes, it does get better." I realized that the healing that started 18 months after Daddy died has continued over the past 20 months and brought me to a point I would never have expected to be. I still miss him terribly, and occasionally there are still tears...but different tears than the tears that overwhelmed for so long. God has given me not only a thankfulness for the years that I had with him, but a thankfulness for the bits of His plan that I'm only beginning to see in not giving us the miracle we asked for so desperately. There are still days when I would give anything for another 15 minutes with him, but there are also days when I am overcome with gratitude that he is experiencing the joy of Heaven, and not here dealing with earthly pain and trouble.

This conversation has come to mind often in the past couple of days, not only because this new friend has been on my heart to pray for many times, but also because I have marveled that despite all that has gone on in the past 39 months, God has truly brought us to the place of a *new normal* that I never thought we would see. There are still struggles and uncertainties from other issues in our lives and extended family, but there is a realization of healing and hope and an excitement about the future that I would not have imagined three years ago.

God works in such amazing ways...using a *chance encounter* reminding me of one of the darkest occasions of my life and how far He has brought me from that, to show me, once again, that He is working in the darkness of today as well. Just as I could not see any end to that tunnel of grief for so long, there are circumstances in our lives today that seem to have no good end in sight. Situations in which I struggle with "whys?" and question "Will it ever get better?" But just as I now am at a place I could never have imagined being after losing my dad, there will be a similar point someday with today's heartaches as well.

" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' " Jeremiah 29:11


Between the Trees said...

Thank you for sharing that. It really touched me. I lost my mom and know exactly what you mean. I don't know if you've found this true, but I'm amazed at how much God has blessed me with the most vivid and happiest of memories. They always creep up at the most surprising moments too.


Joyful Days said...

This blessed me too. I'm only seven months along this path after my mother died. I'm still taking things a day at a time mostly. Thanks for writing this, Jennifer.