Monday, December 23, 2013

Marking Four Years

Today, December 23, 2013, marks year four since Dana’s passing from here to There.
The moments of December 23, 2009 are still so very vivid. It’s hard to believe that we’ve already spanned the length of a high school career, or the duration of an Olympiad, or the length of a U.S. presidential term.
Last year on this date I wrote of a haunting game you play when battling a terminal disease­it’s the game of picturing future scenes without you. This hit hard with Dane one particular Christmas—at every family gathering she would picture that same gathering without her. In her mind she pictured everyone cruising along in life, not noticing that she was gone, sort of “It’s a Wonderful Life” in reverse.  

This little thought game was in stark contrast to her inspiringly brave fight and hopeful thoughts of heaven. It’s occurred to me recently that this game is likely driven by a lurking anxiety that we all have, no matter how hopeful and brave we are: we want to be remembered after we’re gone.

For those of us left behind, we know that it’s impossible to not remember Dana in any gathering that she would have been a part of. Her laughs, her smiles, her love of the moment, her cut-to-the-chase sense that took conversations to meaningful levels. But I guess at year four I do begin to think about Dana’s lasting legacy more than I have before.  So, maybe sometime today, or sometime soon, take a moment to pause, think, reflect, remember.

Now to my second thought.

But first, a side note that is either random coincidence or something more divine. Here I am writing this post and using the 4-year high school career to describe a time period while also writing about the act of remembering. As I type, there is a TV show on in the background, The Sing-Off, an a cappella group singing competition. A group just gave a butt-kicking rendition of the song “Don’t You Forget About Me,” which comes from the high-school based movie, “The Breakfast Club.” Really?? I’m going with something more divine. I can’t make this stuff up!

Now to my second thought, for real.

 When I posted my last blog entry (Elk Envy), I had a funny sense that folks could be thinking, “Why, after finding new love and being happily married, is Barry still writing about something painful and sad?” Frankly, I have even found myself thinking the same thing. It’s a logical, natural question.

Here’s my answer (so far): While I was journeying through the epicenter of pain and sadness I experienced things I would not have otherwise experienced. I saw God in ways I would not have otherwise seen. And I feel that I am in a unique position to say, despite the pain and sadness, that God is still good. While in my darkest, fear-filled hours, God mercifully made His presence known. He didn’t have to do that. He could have let me rely on belief and trust and faith. God has shown us in His Word that He is with us no matter what. God could have said, “Well, you’ve’ been telling people to know and trust God’s Word, let’s see how you do.” But He didn’t stay quiet. God poked His finger through the thin veil between here and There. He did it many times. I feel a bit of a psalmist’s calling in that I have experienced God’s tender mercies and I want, even need, to tell about it.

These pokes through the thin veil, or “God stamps” as we’ve come to call them, at times came fast and furious. Some, like the elk story of the previous post, have taken a few months, or years, to come to full fruition. But they need to be shared. I definitely have not been the best steward of this testimony, a point at which I feel fairly convicted.

Thank you for observing this journey with me—for your encouragement, for your prayers, for your support. Thank you for your patience as I figure out the best way to share of God’s tender mercies from past loss, as I also grow in deep, new love with Jessica (which is a merciful journey in itself!).

The veil is thin. God is near. His mercies are generous.

Thank you!