Friday, December 23, 2011

Marking Two Years

I can’t believe it’s been two years.

Two years since Dana, as her uncle Jon said, accepted a better offer on where to spend Christmas.

Two years to the day since Dana traded me wiping her tears for Jesus wiping her tears.

It’s been two years of loss and recovery.

And if you don’t mind, I’d like to reflect on those two years for a moment.

Besides the God stamps which have so mercifully assured me of God’s presence, the most direct impression I received from God came in the form of these words: recover well. That phrase (which I posted about at the time) has been the North Star of this journey to keep me on track. It’s been the mountain peak in the distance to provide perspective. I found great hope in those words in this way: there is something to recover for.

And of course, one of the first things I was to recover for? Love. One of the questions I asked early on in the journey was this: What does the best-loved man in the world do when he has lost the source of that love? The quick answer, which has had staying power, was simply that I would love well. At the time of that Q and A with God the roles of life that I could apply that answer to were son, brother, uncle, grandson, cousin, friend and many others. I will be a better son, brother, uncle, etc. Obviously I had no idea that the role of husband was just around the corner. In fact, the last two blog posts have documented that miraculous turn in the journey and the wonderful gift of Jessica.

There are so many things you learn through loss—things you would not have learned without the loss. You learn things about yourself. You learn things about life, about gratitude, about God. You feel like you gain a unique perspective on existence itself, on the meaning of everything. What has blown me away is how all the things that I have learned have seemed to custom-build me for the love that I am now getting to experience. And that’s not just being a “new and improved” husband (I am better at keeping horizontal surfaces cleared and cupboard doors closed, but still a long way to go), but loving out of reservoirs that I did not know existed.

I’ve begun to see the slightest glimpse of the redemptive thread that God is knitting into this journey. I’m seeing some of the reality of the reasons for “recovering well.” I’m overwhelmed at the gift of relationship that I have been given to practice “loving well.” With regard to the state of “the journey” you and I have been observing these past two years, I’m doing okay. Better than okay.

But I’m wondering about you.

I’m wondering about my and Dana’s dear friends, our close families and extended family, our circles of friends who Dana knitted with, scrap-booked with, lost weight with, studied the Bible with. The grieving spouse, and that’d be me, has obviously lost the most. But the grieving spouse, and that’d be me, has had a very visible, nearly tangible, goal to shoot for: the possibility of another relationship. While I never thought this would happen (again, see the last two blog posts), it was still a healthy goal to shoot for—a goal that helped me set other valuable milestones in the journey toward recovery.

I am getting to put into practice all that I have learned (which is more than I expected) through not only knowing and loving Dana, but also losing that love. And since every person who came into Dana’s life was deeply loved by her, my hope is that all of us are finding a similar path. I’m hoping we are all getting to explore what it means to love well in all the relationships we have in our lives.

Today has been a special day. I’m in Los Angeles celebrating Christmas with Jessica’s family. While life is screaming busy as they are finishing up a house renovation project (putting on the finishing touches before the big family Christmas Day), Jessica and I still managed to slip away this afternoon to the beach for a little walk to think about, commemorate, and honor Dana. Yes, my mind has been on the minute-by-minute countdown of this day two years ago (although the West Coast time has kept me a bit messed up) since I woke up this morning. Actually the countdown began a couple days ago, remembering the special visits from friends in those last days, and recalling how Dana and I finished reading the book of Revelation on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

As Jessica and I walked the beach, reflecting on the journey and talking about Dana, it should have been no surprise what we saw in the water. The picture is at the top of this post. You may need to zoom in; those are dolphin fins you’ll see. If you need a refresher on the significance of dolphins, you can search this blog for “dolphins.” For now, we can take assurance that ...

…the God stamps continue.

Many prayers and thanks, and Merry Christmas!