Notes on New and Newly Resurrected Grief

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Thank goodness for Facebook, otherwise I’d never be able to meddle in other people’s lives like I do. Of course, the information is voluntary if posted online, and therefore, I at least feel I’ve been invited to meddle. So there’s that.

It’s been an emotional week for a few of my friends. My best friend growing up was adopted, see, but she has recently found some of her long lost family members. It’s been a long, grueling process for her, but she’s been able to find an aunt, a niece, a cousin. Also three brothers, all with the same first name, because two were adopted out and one was kept by her mother. So the brothers were all named by different women who apparently had the same taste in handles for boys. And last night, she finally received a picture of her mother, who unfortunately died years ago, when my friend was a wee child.

I can’t imagine the emotions involved in finally receiving the mysterious information that has kept my friend up night after night throughout the years. I won’t even pretend to know what it’s like to be adopted, but I know it comes with its own set of emotions, struggles, and grief.

Adoption, though not ideal, is such a sacrifice and a gift. A sacrifice on the mother’s part to carry a child she can’t care for. A gift to those who can’t conceive, or who want to practice the pure and faultless religion of looking after orphans (James 1:27).

I have always felt a mixture of sadness and joy for my friend because of her life situation, but her recent familial findings have added to my joy for her. We’ve known each other since I was eight months old. She’s been through a lot of hell with me, and we don’t agree on hardly anything nowadays. But we love each other. And we can be happy for one another. Or sad. Or whatever the appropriate emotion might be when it comes to this hard and difficult, yet sometimes joyous and beautiful journey we call life.

Then there’s another Facebook friend. An acquaintance, really. I remember when her Mom died somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen years ago. I’d never met a more gracious, kind, and loving person than Mrs. M. And my Facebook friend, Mrs. M’s daughter, was so young when she lost her Mom. In fact, she was still in high school with her entire life, and the life of her own family, ahead of her.

But this week, her own family suffered a loss of their own. A loss almost too deep to fathom. Three weeks or so ago, she posted pictures of the nursery she’d put together for her baby, due in just a matter of weeks. Then, a week or so later, she posted again, saying (with a picture) that baby A came a touch early, and for reasons they will never understand, was taken home to be with Jesus.

Then today, pictures of the funeral popped up. My friend was dressed in a black and purple dress, her husband in a simple, nice shirt and jeans. Both stood by the tiniest grave I’ve ever seen, in what looked like the middle of the woods. A sunflower arrangement was placed at the head, while white flower petals had been scattered around the deep, but oh so tiny hole. My friend held baby A, while baby A’s dad stood by and supported. A tiny white box lay on the ground beside the grave, waiting for them to release their offspring to God and Baby A’s Grandma until eternity reunites them all.

Baby boy A was placed in the casket, lowered into the ground, and serenaded. His Mom and Dad knelt before the grave, unafraid of the rich soil, the tears on their faces, the brokenness in their hearts. Right there in the wild, they did the wildest thing one could ever be called upon to do, and let go of the one they conceived together. Not understanding. But hopefully trusting.

Grandpa officiated. Others looked on, I’m assuming. The scene was shatteringly beautiful. Yet gut-wrenching awful. And I find myself wondering how people go through the things they do and still survive, let alone thrive.

How does one simply get up the morning after they buried their newborn baby and have the strength to, one leg at a time, put on their britches? To make a meal. Work a job. Eat.

I don’t know the answer. But I know that it takes supernatural strength. So that’s what I’m praying for them. That the God of all peace will comfort them in a way that cannot be easily understood, but is as real as the soil that soiled their knees as they knelt by their child’s grave. That His strength will be their strength as they learn to live life with an empty nursery down the hall.

Then there’s my own grief for my Dad, which has been resurrected with Mom’s return. Not sure why having her around makes me grieve for him more. They’ve been divorced for nearly thirty years. It’s not like they’ve been a thing for a very long time. Not since I was fifteen, actually, which seems like a life and a half ago. But grief is what it is. It’s not sensible. Or sensitive to your needs. It simply visits when it pleases and excuses itself without announcement. Like the wind, it comes. It goes. And there’s no controlling it.

I’m not entirely sure how to articulate my grief. I suppose in order to know what I’m feeling you’d have to know the backstory of Dad and his Pooh Bear and what it was like for us to be father and daughter. But as they so eloquently say these days …. ain’t nobody got time for dat. 

Yes, I’m feeling grief. But truth be told, it’s a grief that’s been in effect since I can remember. Truth is, I just grieve for a dad. Any dad. My Dad, yes. But to be fathered the way any daughter wants to be fathered. I’ve experienced glimpses of having a good dad here and there throughout my life. A few times by my Dad. A few times by other people’s dads, which is never quite the same as when you experience it with your own flesh and blood dad.

Like it or not (and I don’t), that’s where I’m at. Since I was born, really, that’s where I’ve been. Silently grieving for a certain kind of relationship that will never be known to me on this earth.

When my father-in-law hears a jiggy little song that ends abruptly, he always says “Well they sure slammed that shut!” And that’s what I’m going to do with this blog: slam it shut. Because grief rarely has answers. Or even reasonable explanations. Or punctual endings. Like a wound, grief heals a little, scabs over, gets scraped off, and you suddenly find yourself bleeding again. So you just bandage it up as much as possible, knowing that it’s a temporary fix, and if you’re ever really going to heal, deep, internal “magic” has to take place.

So rather than wax eloquent about something that feels like a combination of continually trying (and failing) to experience love from a distant dad and the sting of a serrated knife in my too-sensitive heart, I’ll just sign out.

I hurt for my adopted friend. I hurt for my mommy friend with empty arms. And I hurt for the absence of my big-bearded, Harley riding, women “loving”, gruff and prideful father who obviously had a soft spot in his heart for me but never could express it well.

That’s all I’m feeling. So that’s all I want to say.

Until next time … to you, from Pooh … toodle-oo.  

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