A week before the shower, I was chatting with Cassandra and Hadassah (C’s sisters). Hadassah said she was so excited about her mom’s anniversary that we were going to have a party for and Cassandra quickly corrected her: “it’s not an anniversary, it’s a baby wash!” Baby wash, baby shower, whatever.
I saw it yesterday in the face of a sixteen year old boy/man. Bravely, he held back the tears, but his trembling chin gave it away. I saw it in the face of my sobbing 10 year old cousin, raw grief coursing down his cheeks. I saw it the beautiful, strong face of my aunt, who had carried on so selflessly and tirelessly. I saw it in my uncle, the terrible ache of losing a mother.
It was heartbreaking. A husband shouldn’t have to bury his only daughter and wife in seven years time. A son shouldn’t grieve his sister and his mom . A grandson said goodbye to his grandmother, while standing beside the grave of his mother, who died seven years before, when he was only nine.
The raw grief and heartbreak was terrible to watch and experience. Kathy’s life was so full of life and vitality. The slideshow playing during visiting hours were full of action and joy. She lived a full, rich life, and she was very loved. We laid her to rest, and celebrated her life, in a way that I think she would have approved of. In fact, I could almost hear her laughing and saying in compelling, Kathy-ish tones, “hey y’all, look down there!” as she saw it from heaven.
However, on the flip side of pain is a strange kind of beauty. The gut-wrenching pain is the result of having loved and having loved deeply. Love is beautiful, and in a sense, it purifies and beautifies the pain. How sad is the death of the unknown homeless man who dies in the alley, alone and un-grieved. Nobody grieves him because nobody loved him.
Pain is inevitable when one loves and so the two walk hand in hand. The stronger the love, the deeper the grief. Pain, the outworking of grief, is therefore a celebration of deep love. And when we grieve and shed tears and mourn a passing, it’s our last way of saying, “I love you.”
And speaking of beauty….the same juxtaposition of beauty and pain existed somewhere else, on a hill, on some boards, with some nails. We often see Jesus’ crucifixion from His point of view and not the Father’s. I think God knows a little something about heartbreak too, and about a love so huge that it gives itself away. I think His heart broke too, as He watched his only Son suffer away, for crimes He didn’t commit, to make His family bigger still.
He understands pain, He sees the beauty, and He holds us close. That kinda gives me chills.
photo credits go to Kelly, as always 🙂