Last night, I spent some time reading through a thick journal I'd prepared for Lynn for his graduation from Kingswood... I had included letters of encouragement from lots of faculty and staff, from friends like Scott Rhyno, Art Maxwell, David Higle, Betty Weatherby, Dave and Bethanie Klob, Mark Brewer, Kirk Sabine, Morgan MacPherson, Ryan Sweeney, Heather Durkee, etc, etc, etc...
I opened the journal with this: (May 3rd, 2003)
There are so many ways you have touched my life over the past two years. I am so proud of you! I have gone from knowing your reputation and respecting it, to knowing your face and personality and enjoying them, to knowing your every movement and your very heart and falling deeply and madly in love with you. Still, each day I get to know you more and more and my love grows just the same. You have and continue to impact and influence my life in radical ways. You are the man of God I prayed for.
Later, I wrote:
I will love you always, Lynn Robert Erskine. And I will hold your hand through whatever challenges and storms the Lord puts in our path down the road.
This morning, I am pensive about what God is up to. I never imagined that the storm that would come our way would be one in which there was no hand to hold... Where is his hand to hold?!?!? I feel the Holy Spirit stirring things in me. He's done so much in my heart in the last few weeks... But I am deeply saddened by my empty hand, that I have to move forward without my partner... God, what are you doing???
After Lynn died, many people shared very passionate convictions that Lynn was with me. No matter how badly I wanted to believe that, my thinker brain stopped my heart and said, But what does that mean? People say all kinds of things in the wake of death. Some of them have truth, but a lot of them maybe don't... I wasn't sure how to process He is with me. How could I possibly process the shock of his death, the understanding that He lives again in Christ, the realization that he's a new man with perfect vision and understanding... and that in some otherworldly way, he is with me? My ridiculous mind couldn't handle it all at once!
The past few weeks, though, have brought enough healing to my heart for me to revisit this issue... He is with me. In a deep and profound way that is very real. But my heart has to be at peace to embrace it. I have to be at peace with the fact that he died, in order to embrace the fact that he lives...
There is excitement in my spirit about something coming. I don't know what it is, but know God is preparing me for it. Behold I am doing a new thing... (Is 43) But I would be greatly deceiving myself if I didn't also confess my sadness, that no matter how true it is that Lynn is with me, I cannot hold his hand. I cannot hear his laughter. I cannot sit beside him and feel the whole world rock to his rhythm... I cannot sing with him, hear our voices blending together, watch him dance at the piano with more energy than should ever have been allotted to one human being...
Alea started saying to me, Mom do you remember when Daddy came back? What do you mean honey? After he died, do you remember when he came back? No, honey. I don't know what you mean... (Eventually, I asked...) Did you see Daddy in a dream? Yes. Daddy came back. He came to our new house. Don't you remember?
I teach my girls that they still have a Daddy who loves them very much, he's just in heaven, which is our Real Home, where one day we will all go to be with Jesus. We are not without a Daddy here on earth because God is ABBA, daddy God, and is with us always. But Daddy (Lynn) can't come back to earth... (Alea aways talked about him coming back, so I felt I had to make this clear...) But, one day we will go home to be in heaven where he is.
Well, maybe in some ways, our deceased loved one can come back :) At least he can in the dreams of my three year old. And he can when I lay in bed at night squeezing his cards tightly to my chest as though it could give me some semblance of comfort in his presence...
Behold I am doing a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert... To give drink to my people, my chosen. This people I have formed for myself; they shall declare my praise. (Is 43:19-21)
I am sensing the waters stirring, brimming to overflowing, ready to pour out and into the barren landscapes of our lives... But the pathways of these rivers are prepared in brokenness. Their banks are lined with humility and loss. This is the dichotomy of the faith: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled... Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted...
I am ready. But I am sad. Still, it is a blessing... a grace disguised*. It is a blessing to be offered up as a barren wasteland, so that God might stir up his living waters and give drink to His people.
My people, they shall declare my praise!
*A Grace Disguised, How the Soul Grows through Loss, by Jerry Sittser