I suppose summer isn’t the time to talk of the hollowness of grief. These are the days of long sunshine inviting us to play a little longer. These are the times of family reunions and seeing new places. These are not the days to be met with grief. But grief doesn’t wait for an invitation.
Alia Joy’s words met me early this morning. They stirred the grief I thought had been quieted. She spoke of her father’s last moments and how he’d lost his appetite and that was the connection to my mom’s recent passing. That was what the nurses had informed my sister, “Your mom hasn’t eaten the last day or two.” That was all. An alert of a change.
We didn’t know that could be a signal for her death to follow so quickly. Mama’s communication was limited by the Alzheimer’s. When she spoke it was word salad, words thrown together but not connected to meaning.
Maybe it was Alia’s writing or maybe it was the one we lost to overdose yesterday. Snatched from our community by the addiction he was fighting. One day he was hitting home runs on our softball team and two days later he’s gone.
He was young enough to be mama’s grandson and while they never knew each other I saw the hunger both had for life. Both lives taken from unwelcome diseases.
My heart is sad on this summer day when the sun broke through lighting the sky to its clear blue canvas. A sadness that reminds me I’m alive with emotion and feeling and that is good. To feel is good, even to feel grief. I’ve numbed enough in my life and I’ve decided to feel it. To live it.
How do we live a life of joy in the face of death and sorrow? That will be today’s task as we face the men in our residential center who lived with this young man. They will be thinking how easily it could have been them and why wasn’t it them, why was it him? And what will we say?
I will say I don’t know why. I don’t know why their life has been spared again and again. Just as I don’t know why mama’s was taken from us long before her physical death. There is so much I can’t answer.
I will not spout platitudes or scripture verses out of context. I will not pretend that life is easy and we have all the answers. Because on this brilliantly beautiful summer day, death robs us from friendship again.
But I will not lose hope. I will not allow death to steal from me a hope in a God who, in the face of unanswered questions, has never failed to love us.