It’s been eight years to the day that my father-in-law passed away. And the old cliche, “time heals all wounds” this many years out, seems both true and an awful lie all at once.
The sharp pang of loss, the kind that took our breath away for days, weeks, and even months after isn’t our daily companion anymore. We have whole blocks of time where we don’t even think of him. But it’s never truly gone either. It’s in hiding now, jumping out and scaring us at will. The realness of it sometimes settling in on us again like it did the very first time. Because there will never be another ANYTHING with him.
There are moments when I catch my husband’s eye and I can read his mind. He’s smiling on the outside but inside he’s wishing his dad was here. Here to listen to Levi play the trombone in his Christmas Band Concert, here to receive a homemade card from his little Hannah and here to watch Jake slowly morph into manhood. The feelings of being robbed of something truly wonderful sets in only to be reminded of the amazing man my mother-in-law has found in the years since. I remember being so mad back then that my kids wouldn’t have a grandpa to make memories with. This year I spent hours compiling a photo calendar that included precious memories already made with their new grandpa who loves them like they were his very own.
When we are making big life decisions, Aaron will inevitably share how he wishes his dad was here so they could talk and he could gain some wisdom. He misses his dad’s counsel perhaps most of all. Not that his dad would ever actually tell us what to do. No way, that wasn’t his style. But he would ask questions that would get us thinking and help us look at the situation from different angles so we could make the wisest, most informed choice possible. His was a subtle Jedi-mind trick type of counsel.
I remember back then (we lovingly refer to them as the “dark days”) wondering if I would ever hear my husband’s laughter again. There was a time so dark and silent that I wasn’t sure we would be able to reach each other again. The loss of Aaron’s dad was like an earthquake, the perceptible shaking of our world as we knew it, but the aftershocks were the hardest. The magnitude of them although smaller, were also very sporadic, making it almost impossible to prepare for. They would come without warning and leave destruction in their wake.
As I sit here typing, my husband’s gregarious laugh, the one that is impossible to hear without immediately giving way to a smile, slowly floats up from the basement and settles quietly. It reminds me that our grief, although not gone, is allowing us to breathe these days. Just last week, as Aaron was making lefse (a tradition passed down from his father) we locked eyes. Mine quickly clouded with tears as we both felt the loss of his presence in a more tangible way in that moment.
And so, although time has caused a gashing wound to be covered with a layer of love, the wound itself is still there, underneath. It more closely resembles a scar now, reminding us of the love we shared, the pain we endured & the hope we have in Christ to be reunited again one day.
Here’s to the all the wide open, gashing wounds out there, to the scars, and to those on their journey towards becoming a scar. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” May you know today that God is with you in your brokenness and that he alone has the power to save you.