Fear of Forgetting

firefly3
One of summer’s fleeting joys–a mom puts a firefly in her daughter’s hand. Copyright Kristi M Bridges

 

There is a moment when parents look away because it’s too hard. There are many, many moments afterwards when they can’t stop seeing

that

one

moment.

 

My friend says after she lost her son, she would crawl into his bed just to smell him. She was terrified of the day when his scent would be gone forever. She’d close her eyes and hear his footsteps in the hall, and when she couldn’t hear them any more she cried. A parent’s greatest fear is losing a child. After that comes the fear the child will be forgotten.

I’ve seen it too many times, and now someone else I love is going through it. Shock, grief, anger, lostness, emptiness, flashbacks, anger, desolation, anger, bottomless hopeless endless aching. You beg for it to stop, but you’re afraid if it does you’ll lose the only connection you have left. My friend said she was furious at God for letting the sun come up the day after her son died. Where is God?

God is a parent. God is a parent who watched the people He was trying to reach strip the skin off the body of His perfect boy. Jesus had healed and restored people, pointed them toward the love of God in ways they’d never understood before. Motivated by a psychotic sense of justice and mob fever, they crucified Him. When he hung dying, and asked for a drink, they gave Him vinegar and laughed. Jesus knew it was coming. He actually foretold his death a few times. In John 12:24 NIV He said, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” The sacrifice was worth it to Him. He came to earth as the essence of God poured into a body, and willingly entered this madhouse where adoration turns to aggression in a minute and nobody gets out alive.

Not every parent loses a child that violently—thank God. But a moment of distraction turns into a fiery crash. A daredevil risk ends in a broken neck. A nap becomes the final sleep. Jesus came because God knows our hearts, but we needed to know His. It’s hard for us to accept comfort from someone who hasn’t been there. In the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we see a God who’s not sitting in a room texting His concern and advice while we struggle for air in an ocean of grief. No, He endured rejection and injustice and the agony of separation in the off-chance that we might take the hand He extends across the gap between heaven and earth.

“You have my baby already. Just take me, too,” one mother begs. The toys are dusty, the future that overflowed with dreams is now a blank screen. There’s no reason to make hot dogs and macaroni, and food has no taste anyway. The stupid sun just keeps rising.

It does that.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting with a group of women who are each living lives that fizz up and scent the air around them with energy and hope. Each had a story that developed during a period of intense darkness. My friend who lost her son was there. She says if her son hadn’t died, she would have spent her life totally wrapped up in her little family. She’d never have chosen this road, but over a dozen young men have passed through her life because she had room for them. Boys who needed a caring mom have grown up to shine, and they still light up her world. Her son is not forgotten. He’s eternal, but now he has a legacy here. We ask why God would give us a joy if it’s going to be taken away. Aside from the quantum impact of nobody being born, ever, God knows that a short life has more impact than no life. He is really good at taking the devil’s destruction and making beauty we would never have imagined.

I want so badly to take away the pain every time I see someone hurt. Only God can do that, God and time. You may want life to be over, because it feels like it’s over already. Jesus’ words in John 12 would never have been heard if John hadn’t stuck around to share them.

If you’re hurting today, for whatever reason, let God be there for you. Know that pain doesn’t disappear in a blinding flash, but if you’re still on this earth, there will be a day when instead of being mad that the sun still rises, you’ll bring sunshine to others.

 

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