Sunday, May 19, 2013
Darkness and Light
“When the darkness closes in, still I will say, Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Words from a nice song. A song about worshiping God in good days and bad. But what about when the bad days are filled with hurt that you can’t explain?
My role in this season is something like a senior advisor. I’m the Bapka – the mom of the dad, the longest married dad of the second generation of the clan. He’s the dad of the clan who is secondly asked for advice – only in line behind the patriarch.
I’m an extra and, honestly, have asked God more than once what He has me here for. This impossibly intertwined little town doesn’t need me. They have all of each other. There are good things about being here so I rather selfishly enjoy pieces of this season. But is it really necessary? My son tells me he still needs me - partly to be nice, I think - partly because sometimes it's very true.
Let me try to explain this better.
I live on the fringes of a family which is its own social network. This town is largely populated by one family. If you follow the family tree down, you will find one particular set of parents who have six kids – five grown and married with children. Those grandchildren total 11, with two more on the way. That whole conglomeration of personalities continually flows in and out of each other’s days. They work together, play together, hang out together, sharing sorrow and joy alike.
My son is married to one of the daughters of that family. They are the longest married with the most kids. Due to his position and his gentle wisdom, my son is rather respected by his peers.
I’m not everyday involved with this whole family, it’s true. But we go to church together and they are a part of my extended social circle. All the grandchildren call me Bapka and run to me with hugs and I call them all my Angelbabies and give them mints. On the fringes is a nice place to be.
Except when it’s not. Like this week.
From my distant space I watch their lives, pray for them, love them, encourage them as much as I can. I see a lot of things from my distant perch. Some things that make my heart smile, some that make me worry and wonder if there isn’t a way I can steer change. They don’t even know how often I carry their names to the Lord. That’s ok. God knows.
Not quite two years ago, one of those extensions was given an amazing, miraculous gift. I watched the story of the twins unfold from their impossibly early birth, through the preemie hospital days and then as they excelled past every benchmark to show they were thriving beyond expectations. The mother of the twins is my daughter-in-law’s sister. The dad is one of my son’s closest friends. The twins and their older sister call me Bapka.
They are a part of the fabric of my life.
This week one of those twins left us. Her little life took a sad turn and suddenly we went from saying things like, “those twins are so cute together and so healthy! What a miracle!” to awkward phrases like, “I don’t have the words to say how sorry I am.”
They said it was a virus. There was nothing anyone could have done. It acted so quickly and presented so oddly.
And now I muddle through trying to explain the unexplainable to my grandchildren, my son, his wife. I hear my voice reaching for comforting words. I have prayed this week until my voice was hoarse and no tears remained.
Through this, my purpose is clearly, sharply defined. The work of the sorrow should be done without little ears listening. I keep my grandbabies removed from the epicenter while my son and his wife work through this family grief.
And so I make lunch, draw baths and hold these Angelbabies of mine while they cry.
I try to answer their questions, but find they have more answers than I do.
Arthur plainly states, “Ava went to heaven with Skippy the cat and Grandma Loraine and Hunter.”
No questioning God’s motive. No doubts about the hereafter.
Again, I see my life here is full of purely selfish benefits.
“He gives and takes away. My heart will choose to say. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”