A story in three parts

But God gives joy

Psalm 145:7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

Psalm 90:14-16 Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, O Lord, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory.

A couple of weeks ago, at the beginning of a small group meeting, the leader asked us each to share in one word what we were feeling. I surprised myself by saying “joy.”

Why is that worth telling you about? Isn’t that a fairly common experience?

Well, not for me, not at this time of the year.

Since 2014, the cold, dark, gray days have put a dragging sense of foreboding in the pit of my stomach. I know what’s coming. The constant struggle to keep Karis warm as she bounces in and out of the hospital. The quickly approaching end of November date the nephrologist gave us when Karis’s kidneys would stop functioning. Her increasing lack of strength and energy. Her most-of-the-night pre-Christmas conversation with Hildete, when she and Pastor Vandeir visited us from Brazil, about her death and how it would impact her family and all she had wanted to accomplish and her sense that the Promise and the Prophecy given to her at age 16 had not been fulfilled. The aborted trip to Florida when she developed a line infection the day before we were to fly. The wrenching I felt leaving her behind in the ICU. Her middle-of-the-night call, her hoarse voice barely audible: “Mama, please come.” The diagnosis of H1N1, swine flu. And all the events leading to her death in the wee hours of Feb. 5th, the roads so icy we couldn’t make it to the hospital for several more hours.

Every other year before this one, at this time of the year, I haven’t been able to shake the waves of grief associated with the holiday season. So, yes: for me, to realize I was feeling joy and anticipation instead of grief and dread was an amazing experience, this ninth year since it all happened.

My three-part story today is one of gratitude. The first part was the thirty years of life with Karis. The second part was the long grieving of living without her. The third part is the discovery that joy can take the place of grief. It’s such a hopeful feeling. I want to say to everyone grieving a huge loss, “Don’t despair! It may take a long time. Each person’s experience is different. But I know now it’s possible to reach the third part of the story, when tears flow out of deep joy and thankfulness instead of the deep pain of mourning.” I’m tasting the joy Karis herself feels now!

2 thoughts on “A story in three parts

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