Trying To Remember You
“Look up, darling... aren’t they cool? They look like they were made in Brazil, huh?”
I try to remember the last date we had, but I just can’t. My memory is failing me. I cannot remember lots of things, and it worries me, it confuses me, it saddens me.
But I remember this place with it’s cool Brazilian looking lamps and it’s overpriced menu. I remember where we sat and how he told me that one day when we have a house of our own he would like to have Maori carvings and Brazilian lamps like those. I remember he didn’t like the size of the tea pot, and I remember how he joked with the waiter.
And I remember his smile.
So I come over here on my own, trying to remember him. But I’m forgetting things, my memory is clouded by worries, by confusion, by sadness.
A friend suggested that I give myself permission to take a Sabbath from grieving. I tried to do it when we were away. I tried, for my sake and my girls sake, to tell myself it was ok to laugh, it was ok to enjoy the people and places, it was ok to miss him without falling apart.
Sometimes it worked, other times the tears would surprise me. Some times the laugher would surprise me. Sometimes the pain would throb so intensely that it paralises me. Sometimes I felt blessed and safe.
Sometimes I fretted that this Sabbath was coming to an end and I would have to return to the country where I am a foreign, to the house where I am alone and to the life where I am a widow.
“Did you have a nice little holiday?”
“Lucky you, spending all that time away!”
“Not every widow is that fortunate, you know...”
Nice, lucky, fortunate...
It doesn’t feel nice to go places and see people I love without my husband. I don’t feel lucky, nor fortunate to come back to a home without him, to a life without him.
What I do feel like is that I am walking through a long, cold and merciless valley. I have recited Psalm 23rd so many times throughout my life, but now I feel in my own flesh what really it’s like to walk through The Valley of shadow of death.
Some people give me the impression that they want me to rush through this valley. They are full of advices, they are strong on their convictions of what is best for me. They want me to hurry and move on. I must confess, I have wanted to rush through it many times to ease the pain, to ease the uncertainty, to ease people’s discomforts.
There is no way to rush though. There is no moving on, only moving with. Learning to carry the grief, because it’s here to stay whether it’s wanted or not.
There are times however, more often than I would like to admit, when I fell like all I want is to camp in this valley of the shadow of death. On the days when I struggle to get out of bed. At times when I am raging, or miserable, or scared that one day I will wake up and not remember him anymore. Or when I get so discouraged about the future... on those days I want to set up my tent and make this desolate valley of the shadow of death my eternal dwelling place.
But that is not how Psalm 23 goes. It doesn’t say “though I rush through The Valley of the shadow of death...” neither does it say “ though I camp in The Valley of the shadow of death...”
What it does affirm is “Though I walk through The Valley of the shadow of death, your rod and tour staff, they comfort me.”
It’s a slow, painful, scary, heart wrenching walk. Barefoot through broken glass kind of walk. Carrying a heavy cross by myself kind of walk.
But it is a walk. One step of the time kind of walk.
And although I feel alone, I know that my invisible God is ever so present, because I have felt his comfort so many times in this valley of the shadow of death.
Even when I stall, especially when I fall, believing that I cannot take another step, I have felt his comfort, and I know that my God has been by my side as I walk through my valley of the shadow of death. He is with me now, when the Sabbath from grieving has come to an end, and I must once again face my new reality and take another step into the unknown, into a life without my husband where my memory seems to be fading away.
So for today, I sit in this overpriced restaurant, looking at the cool Brazilian looking lamps, allowing myself the grace to be broken and to remember my husband’s smile amidst the fog of my fading memory.