Daily Archives: September 24, 2013

Waves of Grief

I panicked.

Then spent the next hour frantically searching through piles of books and stacks of papers. The office has become my dumping ground – but I knew what I was looking for had to be in there. On the desk. On the table. In the cabinet. Somewhere.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. On my knees in the middle of the mess, I can’t breathe.

I blink back tears. Take a ragged breath. Another. And another, struggling to push back the “How could you lose it?” thoughts crowding me, taunting me.

It’s here; it has to be here.

And it was. Just on its own, without a box, without a label. Just a Sharpie scrawl across the top: “Christmas – 3/12”.

Except I wrote the wrong year. It should’ve read “3/13” and then I would’ve seen it instantly and known that our final months, from Christmas through March of this year, our final holidays and ordinary moments with Kevin were okay, were not lost. The videocassette of our last Christmas, our daughter’s last birthday with her daddy in his recliner and his stocking feet in every shot. The last time I will hear him laugh and tease and love his girls. The thought of losing those moments, when we’ve already lost Kevin…

I prop my feet awkwardly on the edge of the desk, cradle the camera in my hands, little viewing screen popped open. And I watch the moments of three months go by in sixty minutes. The rustle of wrapping paper ripped from Christmas presents. The delighted chortle of our daughter gleefully clutching her very first MasterCard gift card – “I didn’t KNOW seven-year-olds could have CREDIT CARDS!” Slightly off-key “Happy Birthday to you” and chocolate cupcakes. Tricks in the driveway on her Hello Kitty kick scooter; more tricks on the trapeze bar on her backyard swing. Pounding surf on the sands of Orange Beach during spring break in Alabama.

Silent tears slid down my face and raging waves of ugly, raw, I-can’t-do-this, missing-him-with-every-breath grief slammed into me.

I feel like I might drown in the grief. It’s so hard to be here without him. To see our daughter do her fantastically amazing things and not turn to him with a grin and a shake of my head, and feel him pat my back and say, “We did good, Baby Doll.” Loneliness swells and grief breaks over me and I almost miss her words on the video:

“What you do when you can’t run from the waves fast enough is get on your knees and crawl.”

She’s standing at the edge of the vast gulf, playing a game with the rough surf. She wades in, ankle deep, a little more. The endless waves push against her, and she laughs as the little ones press her backward. She balances and watches, eyes in the distance, looking beyond for the big waves, waiting to run shrieking up the beach before they knock her down. But one caught her, and I caught it on camera, and she wavered against its force and fell to her knees, scrambling up the sand before the water dragged her back.

“What you do when you can’t run from the waves fast enough is get on your knees and crawl.”

And the tears came again, because she’s got it and why do so many wise words come innocently through her? She doesn’t even know how profound her words are. I watch it again, the little waves puddling around her ankles, the way she balances and shifts and watches. The big wave, overpowering her; but she drops to her knees and doesn’t go under.

There it is, an image of grieving, playing out six months before I even knew I would need it. When the loneliness puddles around me, when the memories press in, when the pain overpowers, I get on my knees and crawl to God. I can’t outrun it, it’s too big, too much. I get on my knees.

The words of a song loop through my head and the melody flows into the cracks of my heart:

Bow the knee;
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee;
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.

And I won’t go under. He promised.