the things unseen

I started my spring garden work yesterday.  Yanked out old weeds.  Poured in new compost.  (Well, I suppose, technically, all compost is old, but you know what I mean.)  I searched for comfort in the push-pull rhythm of mixing the soil.  It felt good to be working outside.  As my farmer father-in-law says, there's not much better than planting things and watching them grow.  But my thoughts these days are always full of the Hartfeld family.

The world really does just continue right on though, even if your heart is broken or if you feel like you simply cannot take another step under the weight of it all.  I plant my seeds and think about this time last year, when we first learned of Stacey's rare cancer.  Of Jacob calling my husband to tell him while Stacey was still driving back from the doctor's office.  Of Stacey cutting her long hair short to prepare for chemo.  Of our two families going out to pizza, the same as any other time, except for the frequent use of our cameras as we tried to capture this last moment of normal life.  I looked at the other families at the restaurant and thought, everything just goes on.

I'm feeling that internal conflict this week.  Looking at my kids, who still want help, or a snack, or something off a high shelf, or a snuggle from me every five minutes - and I think, can't you see I'm sad!  And, because of course they can see, my sweet daughter says, "Mommy, I'm so sorry you're sad about your friend."  I cry, I just crumple.  My selfishness evaporates and I hug her until she squirms.  Then she says with a smirk, "If you want, we can just go watch some TV for a while."  I swear this child came out of the womb understanding the art of manipulation.

I don't even know what I'm writing today.  I don't really want to write about the hard stuff but I can't write about the everyday stuff because the hard things are sitting in the way.  It seems inane to chatter on about my garden or what our summer plans might be when a family is waiting. . .waiting to see what their new normal will be.


On Easter Sunday, we visited a church in the town we used to live.  It is always lovely to visit, to see so many friends, and to know that we are missed.  The worship music started and I was only in the service for about 3 minutes when I started shaking.

I figured some kind of breakdown must be coming for me - a person can only hold themselves together for so long - but I kept finding myself too busy for a good cry.  When I realized I was about to start sobbing in a church full of people I hadn't seen in months, I was a bit frantic.  Not now, God, not now! I thought as I ran for the door.  I'm pretty sure I heard a chuckle in response.

So I scurried out of the service trying to look totally normal, but apparently this is hard to do when tears are leaping from your eyes and puddling so that people around you are slipping and falling.  It's not that I care so much if people see me cry, it's just that showing up at a church you don't go to anymore (without your husband because he's tending sick kids, but the people don't know this, of course), and then proceeding to burst into tears . . .that's rather hard to explain.  Especially due to the infuriating tendency that crying has of interfering with simple articulation.  Anyway, I didn't make it.  A friend I hadn't talked to in ages caught me just as I reached the outer door to see what was wrong.  I think I might have said something reassuring like, "Oh, sob, I'm sob sob sob, really fine soooob sob sob."

Easter is so emotional already, when you really come face to face with the price that was paid for your heart, for your heart alone, and how terribly undeserving we find ourselves most of the time.  I told my friend that, between Easter and my sweet friend Stacey walking the final steps of her journey on earth (though we pray for a miracle), my heart was just wide open and raw.  And she replied, "Come sit by me, if you want, and just let Jesus soak into you.  And don't worry about what anyone thinks."  She eyed my little packet of tissues and added, "Also, we need to get you more tissues because that's not going to be enough."

Scripture Necklace, Etsy

I ended up staying through the whole service, flanked by friends, and so equally full of sorrow and joy that my skin was tingling.  It seems trite to say "the Lord is near to the brokenhearted," but there I was, cracked open and hurting so much for this family, and still absolutely certain of the love of my Jesus and the scripture promise of a heaven to come.  There is a strange kind of beauty in these moments that defies explanation, defies the very logic that the world lives by, but through that beauty we fully grasp the scripture that promises peace that passes all understanding.  And yes, somehow the world does keep going.  For now.

via Pinterest


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