Reflecting in Busselton. Nathanael's First Heaven Day weekend, 2015.
JULY FIRST. Three years ago, today. A harmless enough scan, the results of which would propel a ripple of ambiguous grief through our lives for four months until the gravitas of loss finally broke our world late on October Thirty.
Heading into that ultrasound room held no fear for us. We were there to get pictures to show off with our family and friends. We had no idea what was about to beset us. Clueless.
The teary sheen in the doctor’s eyes together with his frank words made our dire situation all too clear. We left those rooms that day in utter shock, carried, I am sure, by God’s very Spirit.
Sitting at home later that day it dawned on me. No words of consolidation made any difference (except to interrupt the sanctity of despair we could not escape). The intent of family was good. But it made no impact. Shock is numbing. Suspended animation, with no shape of bliss. If only people would sit and say nothing. Allow the awkwardness of the moment its shallow victory. If only. You recognize how hard that is, of course, when you’re the one God has charged to help. But God’s help is always simpler than we think. Still, we sat and then thought of something that needed to be done, and we’d do it. There wasn’t much to say other than attempt to make meaning of disaster — an impossible task. Every loop of thought, within every feeling, lay a conundrum.
But today is special. Not a lot has gone right for us as far as our plans are concerned these past 1096 days. But have we learned some brutally deep lessons! About us, about others, about mystery and compassion, about the truer nature of life, and not least about the faithfulness of our Creator and Redeemer.
Life is not about what goes right or wrong according to our own comfort. Life is about accepting the stark realities we cannot change. It leads us into vistas we’d not otherwise see. Today I can visit the memory of that July First Twenty-Fourteen day and know God was there, saving us, thwarting the enemy who sought to destroy us. Today I can say, we got through. By the grace given us and through the prayers of you, the saints. Today, though much is left unreconciled, I can love my wife and family and friends with a better love than ever.
People have often asked me whether writing about Nathanael helps. You never truly let go of those you lose. We never truly ‘get over’ it. It will never ‘go away’. (Sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable; me speaking about it.) So, writing memorials of our memories is a sacred way of keeping their memory alive. I no longer see such a thing as writing about our loss as indulgent. There is only beauty to behold.
So, together, your losses and ours. Let’s behold them together.