Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | January 27, 2014

Of Cleaning and Crying

Jesus wept.

Jesus wept.

Youngest daughter and grandbaby spent a week home with me.  After my son-in-law loaded them up and hit the road for their home – 9 hours away – I went and taught my Sunday School class.  Then, I came home to make my first run on OCD cleaning after a week of 18 month old angel adventures and two dogs visiting.  I usually don’t work on the Lord’s day, but wanted to not be distracted by cleaning next week.  It took 6 hours.  When I was done, I felt exhausted.

But, I wasn’t tired from the work,  I was wiped out from the weeping.  The crying most of the time I was cleaning wore me out.  It was probably good, too, to grieve so.

My older daughter told me how her 6 year old cried because her Grandmother wasn’t at the school play on Friday.  Her “Mom” was so excited about her starring role.  Our grandbaby girl had recited all of her lines and sung the songs several times before my wife had her stroke.   My heart is cut in two for the heart ache and sadness of our precious little one.  I cry because I know neither will see the other’s broad smile and light in the eyes in this time of life – here.

And, I keep on crying because I can’t see her either.  I have to wait.  I know I’ll see her.  But, the waiting is agony.  It’s been a month and half alone without her.  We had 41 years together.  I was hers.  She was mine.  41 years x 12 months = 492 months with her.  A moment without her, when I know I can’t be with her is overwhelming.

Grieving for my wife is different from other grief I’ve grieved.  It’s the sadness that I can’t describe yet.  Calling it a deeply profound sadness speaks to just one piece of it.   The pain it carries stabs and aches at the same time.  As David wrote in the Psalms, it comes from the marrow of a man’s bones.  When the pain finds its voice in keening lament, the crying is a groaning from the soul.  The sobbing shakes as if my body is breaking into pieces.   If only it were so simple.

Because when the crying stops, I’m still here.   She is not.  I have tomorrow, one day at a time, and she will not be here.  Her absence is the emptiness.

The laws of physics declare a vacuum will be filled.  But, this vacuum empties out what is filled, or at least punches a big hole in it.  Sharing a week with a precious toddler and the sweet joy of our grandchild’s success had an echo of emptiness, a shadow of loss, an awareness of missing.  I know how this goes through life – since my parents died.  (I was 29 with Daddy and 36 with Mama).  Except this is so much, much, much bigger and more awful.

Awful is bearable with Lord Jesus Christ.  I’ve taught this for years.  I’ve lived it.  Now, I’m living more than I ever had.  More than I ever imagined.  S0, I call out to the one, only, true, living God – Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Jesus dealt with awful.   In today’s Sunday School lesson (John: Chapter 18) He was betrayed, His brave friends lost courage and He was reviled by the authorities.  He wept when His friend died and the family grieved so.  He faced a greater awful on the Cross.  He took it as a man’s man  – and then He cried out.

My grief is less than His agony.   He was innocent.  I’m a sinner and His servant.  I serve Him by reading and writing.  Writing this is meant to serve others, not bleat about self.

My grief is teaching me more than I ever wanted to learn about other’s grief.  I thought I had empathy, sympathy and compassion for widows.  My new respect is off the charts.  Now, I know how much more there is to know and feel.

I understand suffering through loss far beyond what I knew before.  Through divorce or death for partners gone.  For children for parents lost.  For parents who bury a child – although I really can’t grasp that and forswear it in His Will.

I understand why the thoughts, words and deeds of grieving men and women – might range from one extreme to another.  I’m so sorry for their suffering.

We’ll see what I can write – and when – to put this understanding to work for the Lord.  Let the words be as much balm on others’  wounds as possible.

Papa and Stage Star  (My red spots are skin peel treatment)

Papa and Stage Star
(My red spots are skin peel treatment)

Papa and Sophia Star 2


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