It is one of those mysteries of life that just yesterday I wrote about joy. Today, I am writing about sorrow. Today, I write about grief. Today, I write about loss.
For you see, the world is just a little less brighter today.
In the past two days, I have lost one influence from my childhood and one from my more recent adulthood. Both died somewhat suddenly. Both have been a shock to me.
One was Mary, the wife of my childhood pastor and mother to a few of my childhood friends. I have fond memories of her from my youth, as I was a member of the church from the time I was in fifth grade until I married and moved to Iowa 15 years ago. In most of them she was smiling. She had a smile that made me smile. She always had some word of wisdom to share. And she raised two wonderful women who were, at times, mentors to me since they were both years older than me.
I had lost touch with her family over the years, though we communicated, albeit briefly, via social media venues. So it was a shock to open my Instagram feed early this afternoon on my lunch break to find out that Mary had passed away last night at sunset after a very brief bout with cancer.
My heart goes out to her family. Her husband, as I mentioned, was the pastor of the church of my youth. Her daughters, my mentors and older friends. Her son was once a crush, though I outgrew that and had a somewhat friendship with him.
The other death is just as much a shock.
Roger was a member of my current church, a retired pastor in his own right. He is the father of one of my dear friends here in my little town and the husband to another. He was one whom I smiled at and shook hands with as recently as yesterday. He gave us both a wide smile and a firmly gripped handshake as the other half and I greeted him while we walked down the aisle at church to get communion. He was full of joy at how full Easter service was.
I often hugged him, though I did not do so yesterday because I did not want to interrupt whatever jokes he was telling to other members. I wish I had now.
Roger also had a smile I will never forget. When he smiled at you, it was like you were the only person he ever loved….. but he made sure every person got that smile. He loved to debate with others who had differing opinions, and always respected the other person even if he didn’t much like what they had to say. And he told some awesome, albeit dad-ish, jokes. He was a fellow writer and praised me for taking my own small steps towards this journey.
So when I read the account of his sudden and unexpected death just today on our church’s Facebook, my eyes shed a few tears. I thought of his wife, his son, his daughter and her family. I grieve as the rest of my church is grieving.
The world is a little bit dimmer today, for two people who loved everyone in their own ways are gone. The world has a little less love in it, without these two. And I can’t help but think of this lyric from a song I recently listened to:
But now you belong to heaven…. It’s empty without your smile……The truth brings us to tears…..All the love you gave us all these years.Mari Olsen Onsøien “Now You Belong to Heaven”
Facebook also reminded me that four years ago, my cousins, uncle, father and sister gathered to say goodbye to my paternal grandmother, whom I affectionately called Gram, on this very day. She had suffered a stroke, and at 96 years of age there was little that could be done for her. So most of us traveled to her corner of the Southern United States to say our goodbyes, as she was being moved to hospice near my uncle’s home.
This was the photo that popped up in my feed, reminding me of this day. My eldest cousin J had slipped her hand into Gram’s and I decided to slip my own into the other. Her hands were so cold, and we were trying to warm them as we reminded her how much we both loved her. I snapped this photo, caring not if anyone was annoyed that I was taking pictures. I am glad I do, for it is one of my favorites.
I remember you like yesterday, yesterday……I still can’t believe you’re gone…..Oh, I remember you like yesterday, yesterday….. And until I’m with you, I’ll carry on…. Every lament is a love song (a love song)…. Yesterday, yesterday…… Oh, so long, my friend, so long”Switchfoot, “Yesterdays”
As I watch the fading light of the sun out my eastward facing windows, I have reflected on the grief from four years ago and how it’s mingled with the grief of the past twenty four hours.
Sadness and sorrow, grief and loss. All of them are part of life. They are most definitely unwanted parts of life, but they are there nevertheless. Just as we all are born, we all will die.
Even in stories, characters die and those left behind are left to mourn. I draw upon my memories of times like these when I write those parts….. and yes, I have written those parts.
For just like everything else, there is a season and a purpose to this. After all, this is part of the story we all write.
Write your own story. Love big so you are remembered in the stories of others. Stay magical.
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And as always, #writeyourownstory