Fast Forwarding to Memories to Come
I’d like to believe that the angst and agony of Memorial Day will lessen. Some days seem lighter . . . easier, and then stealth’s cold fingers of death slither in and clamp down — hard — on my heart. On other days, suffering’s machine gun strafes my inner being — birthday, death day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, last day we spent together, last night we talked on the phone or Skyped, the last hug or “I love you”, the date he deployed, the date he was to return — alive. These grief bursts of remembrance that hit every-month-or-so transport me back to the first gasp of disbelief, splintering my nerves, and rendering my once-nimble brain incapable of functioning or regulating the slightest stress. Memorial Day is just one more day to rake away the scab coating the heartache scorching my bosom.
A query posed to a Gold Star mom who lost her son fifty years ago in Vietnam failed to give me the hope I so desired: “Please tell me mourning the loss of my son will get easier.”
“The loss and pain never gets easier, just different. I don’t allow myself to think about it as much.” Not the answer I wanted to hear — just makes me confront this reality: I can’t change his story. However, I can choose to face the history of my future without my son and live a life filled with purpose and passion that honors my son.
I’m thankful for the progress. From the impossible task to focus, to absorb information, or to multi-task, my re-calibrated brain can again function until another implosion from an unexpected spike of grief’s stress. I’m thankful the will to live again has returned. I’m thankful for the gift of memory, painful as it is, that allows my heart to hold close and remember my amazing firstborn, even though Kristoffer lives in the presence of El Elohiym Rachuwm, the Merciful God of Compassion.
Sometimes sobs well up from deep within and my soul cries out, “God, I want my son. I need my son. His two young daughters . . .” Then a whispered “Why?” glides past my lips, but I don’t let the question linger long or lodge in my heart. Years ago, I experienced my “Why, God? I hate you, Jesus.” period. Even though I never lost my faith in God, I wasted far too many years brooding over “Why?” — leaving an undesired, permanent reminder — anger’s ugly, aging trench between my eyebrows.
I realized the argumentative, unanswerable, and crippling question “Why?” paralyzed me in a swirling dark, bottomless vortex. Even if I knew “Why?”, any answer will never ease the absence of my son or deliver comfort or peace. I don’t know “Why?” God’s mercy and compassion transported my warrior son to eternal life. I prefer to accept that I won’t know that answer until heaven.
When mourning sickness seems beyond healing and my heart falls distressed, a warm lump presses against my throat. Salty mourning gushes down my cheeks. The stranglehold of mourning’s knot unbinds its grip upon my heart. “When man is sore troubled, the Shechinah says, ‘How heavy is my head, how heavy is my arm.’ If God suffers so much for the blood of the wicked, how much more for the blood of the righteous.” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 6.5)
In my state of brokenness, I relate to our divine Parent who experienced the same agony of His first and only Son’s sacrifice of death, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, NASB) And just as those who don’t or can’t appreciate the sacrifices of those who deserve honor and remembrance on Memorial Day, how often do I appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice to offer me the gift of spiritual freedom and the consolation of eternal hope?
Hope cannot eradicate the ever-present haunting of earth’s sorrow. However, the waiting game of hope eternal promises comfort, healing, and reunion with my son — one day, someday, soon — through El Elohiym Rachuwm’s eternal covenant of mercy and compassion.
Reflection: Missing those who gave the ultimate sacrifice? What plans have you made for Memorial Day to be with people who ‘get it’? Where, what or to whom do you turn for comfort and hope and how is that working for you?
In the midst of crushing devastation, brokenness became my shovel and the Bible my archeological dig to sift through the screens of man’s misconceptions about God to discover Who God says He is in the midst of heartache. In the ancient Hebraic culture, a name expressed or revealed a person’s character, attributes, or reputation. El Elohiym Rachuwm, a Hebrew name of God, reveals His deep love, tender affection, mercy, and compassion for us.
Because God does not change, the Hebrew names of God transcend the Old Testament. The New Testament reveals The Truth of God Himself through Rabbi Jesus’ teachings and life of compassion, and through the comfort of the Holy Spirit. As I stumble along in the valley of mourning, I long to know how El Elohiym Rachuwm works on my behalf. I hope you find hope and comfort in some of the verses below that reveal El Elohiym Rachuwm’s loving affection and deep love for you and for every living soul.
“Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear (to stand in awe of) Him.” (Psalm 103:13) “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.” (Isaiah 30:18) For He who has compassion on them will lead them and will guide them to springs of water.” (Isaiah 49:10) “For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,” says the LORD who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)
TAPS: The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers compassionate care to all those grieving the death of a buddy or a loved one who served in our Armed Forces. TAPS provides comfort, hope, retreats and referrals to grief resources 24 hours a day, seven days a week through a national peer support network — all at no cost to surviving families and buddies. If you ever need to speak to someone or need a listening ear, please feel free to contact TAPS at 1-800-959-8277.
This first appeared in The Havok Journal on May 9, 2015.