Everyone has a story. Each day, a page in a chapter; your life written in words that hold more of the form of action than letters. We lose sight of one day certain ahead when our lives sealed up by time will no longer be. It will happen despite all effort given to keep it at an appropriate distance. Every day the distance closes and we move every bit closer to the end. But don’t lose value in the finiteness of life when death is remembered. Much of life and living is discovered in death, the fine reality that one day we will reach the end. Whether we are prepared or not, every story reaches resolve, or at least the end.
Greater treasure lies in death spied ahead than in life alone. Trust me. ::::::::
Earlier in the week, we spent the evening running through a fairly normal routine. The only difference being a camera following and documenting our activity both mundane and extraordinary. The videographer planned to collect our family story on film for an organization that has become a tremendous shelter in our lives. That organization is called, GriefWorks. Hours of film documented our movement and recollected words guiding the story from grief to grace.
He observed through lens our family cooking night. Tower pizza, one of our apparent specialities, on the menu. We all pitch in. At least that’s how the cooking adventure begins, with all of us assigned to jobs preparing food. Ten minutes in, it’s me in the kitchen lost and guessing measurements.
Even sharing the meal was documented. Several times throughout, I dreamed of hiring the videographer to film every meal we eat together into the foreseeable future. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the girls on that level of behavior. Maybe the fact that they asked if the filming was sort of like a reality tv show. At yes, their behavior and advanced conversation morphed into angelic attention and Brady Bunch like coordination. Amazing...truly.
I loved watching them interact with his questions during their interview together. They sat on the couch and waited and joked about being tv stars. I love seeing them smile easily.
Right as the videographer was set to begin, he looked at me once more to make sure I was okay with the questions he prepared for them. He didn’t know, but we’ve been deep in conversation bathed and drowned in tears. They’ve shared hurts, questions and fears and given space for grief to exist. In turn, healing blooms in their hearts like rose buds among thorns.
But still, I appreciated his concern.
Easy questions first to prime the pump and set the stage and work out all of the squirming and laughter, mostly.
Then onto heavier words. They talked about the day Marianne was rushed to the hospital. It was interesting hearing them talk to someone else. I just sat out of camera frame, on the side lines, listening and watching how they spoke about easily the most devastating occurrence of their lives.
“Our mom died and we didn’t really know at first. We waited for her to come home from the hospital and made treats for our whole family. On one bag we wrote, ‘Mom and Dad.’”
I sometimes forget that for five days while she laid moving between life and not that my girls lived in one world still where all was alright, while I moved into another where my wife disappearing.
The girls shared descriptions of their mom both funny and adoring. Smiles drew across their faces and mine as each described characteristics found in their lives, her indelible imprint. I will forever love those characteristics planted deeply within them.
“How is life now with Dad? Could you describe it?”
And then one of the greatest affirmations of my life ensued. Their words shifted from past to present and tomorrow.
Fun. Happy. Crazy. ...adventurous.
And there it was ...clouds parting, sun shining, hope rising, day passing from one to another.
“We’re okay, I thought. Much more than I give credit for.”
Adventure was my number one goal in starting life new just me and my girls. That is what they will remember. They do now. Not getting everything right or playing it safe, but moving onward and out boldly. Treading heavy on the ground soaked in tears stained the color sorrow. We left one life behind moving swiftly because that day disappeared as all days behind do. Staying there would mean so would we.
In my heart, adventure was the key unlocking a new door. I needed courage so I took it. The man my little daughters came to know in the wake of death and tragedy was a man pulling hard at life and God, cutting deep a path for their feet to walk. As much as I could, I stretched. I spent more money investing in experiences together. We stayed out later, drew new lines, created new traditions and took on new challenges. Not only did they see me more adventurous in a cavalier way. They felt me lean into them more in shared fears, broken hearted moments and uncertainty. But so far, we’ve kept moving. Together, we jumped two-footed into every challenge.
I had to remake us. I had to write our days.
Undoubtedly, you have been and will only continue to be tossed around by the swelling tide of life and circumstance. But more lasting than the ugliest moments in your life is the horizon swallowing the sea. When all settles, and trust me, it will at some point, you will see hope as it burns ahead.
You write the days. Cling to promise and love and faith through tossing waves both crashing and threatening. Not one of them is as big and lasting as the God painted horizon ahead.