Take me to see my husband. Yes, of course. Right this way...
In the sterile environment of the emergency room, I was frozen in time. My mind desperately searching for some frame of reference, some minute detail that would bring understanding... some way of making sense of the image that lay before me. My husband's dead body, his empty shell, a carcass carrying little evidence of warmth, as though the dweller had moved out, but the ashes in the fireplace were still aglow, left to simmer and cool and die out on their own.
I stood there, staring, with Pastor Cory by my side, How can I make sense of this? I was afraid to touch him, this strange image that had been my husband, but was no longer... I touched his face, I laid my hand on his bare chest that seemed bruised from, I assume, the pounding efforts of rececitation. Soon, I sat and held his hand, with friends close by, and waited while his warm fingers, that had danced on the piano keys only hours before, turned cold.
In those moments, sitting with my husband's body, I did not know how my universe had altered. I could not, on any level, truly comprehend what was shifting in the universe. I was in shock. A happy place :) I saw expressions of great freedom, as Lynn's spirit danced about the room and heaven rejoiced at his welcoming. My husband had lived for that very moment, the moment he would enter a life everlasting, welcomed by his truest Friend. I saw the sovereignty of God as clearly as I could see my own reflection. I saw moments of the day, words of comfort God had already spoken, felt secure in His timing and His Sovereignty... In that moment, I knew Lynn's life was complete, perfect, lacking in nothing.
Pastor Cory was very wise and powerfully anointed in those moments of crisis. He gently made sure I stayed with Lynn's body long enough to have some sense of horrific reality sink in, knowing I would need it to cope with the days ahead. For now, I was in a dream, not thinking about the next moment, only breathing in this present one. We were nearing to leave, and I had one last chance to be with his body, alone. I walked back into the room, now void of all life. The images of glory had vanished and a chill ran up my spine. Do I talk to it? I wondered, considering the body before me to be both familiar and altogether strange. I slowly looked around the room, not seeing anything really, just breathing. I felt... death. I felt it's presence. I felt the hot burning coldness of hell's evil, lurking presence. It towered over me with eerie fingerlike movements. Death did not have victory over Lynn. Lynn was gone from its threatening grasp. But still, it threatened to reign over me, as though I was standing in its domain. Knowing my husband's presence was gone, I left the room quickly, wanting to leave that eerie sense of death behind.
Though time felt complete in that moment of Lynn's death, looking back on it today, it feels unjust, so unfair. Time stole my husband away before I could say goodbye, before I could kiss him and remind him I loved him, before our eyes could meet and share one last moment of togetherness. Time was cruel. While I drove through red lights, and passed cars in the wrong lane on the bare street, Lynn was taking his last breath, alone in an ambulance, in the dark of night, surrounded by frantic paramedics...
I had no chance to say goodbye.
There is so much I want to put into words, and so little time to do it :) How and why does God reign in a world of death, where Satan can have his way with one of God's beloveds? How and why do we brush pain aside with noble explanations and lofty expressions of purpose and logical rationals? What is the logic behind Job? Behind God's perfect love that said, Yes, Satan, have your way with my servant Job. For I trust him. He will remain faithful to me.
So many people seem to assume that Job didn't truly know God before his experience with grief and sorrow and loss. They quote Job 42:5, and say that's the story. That's the point of Job's sufferings. But I think they are wrong. Scripture is clear that God trusted Job, because Job trusted God. It was that knowledge and awareness of his sovereign Lord that held him steadfast in the turmoil of his loss and grief.
The happy ending of Job is not that Job came to know God truly and then was blessed double-fold in the later part of his life. That is a shallow interpretation, one I might have consented to before my own experience with the complexities of grief. Job didn't learn his lesson and then trade in his old family for a new one. How could we be so cruel to suggest such a thing??? Job loved the children he lost, the life he'd lost, and he had grieved it heavily.
But his soul grew... Like Jerry Sittser*, he learned to experience God in brokenness and pain. My own ponderings lead me to question, Did Job continue to make morning sacrifices for his children all those years after their death? Surely he remembered them. Surely, even after new children were born, he grieved those he'd lost? We don't forget a soul that was once a part of our own. But we learn to let our soul grow...
One day at a time, I will keep trying to choose life in the through. And I will try to allow this pain to stretch and pull on my insides until my soul grows big enough to carry on, with both sorrow and joy, both deep sadness and rich beauty... with both the enemies fingerprints, markings of living in his domain, and the promise of a pure and perfect redemption, with life everlasting, and joy forevermore.
*1995, 2004. A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, by Jerry Sittser