This coming Saturday marks one year since I lost my mother to cancer. Loss is such a strange thing for with it comes sorrow and longing and they are both insatiable companions. The one consolation is that they are not constant companions. They show up in the most unexpected places and at such inconvenient times, like that friend that everyone has who possesses no tact and never knows when it's time to go home. But as time goes by there are longer and longer seasons of feeling like your normal self. In fact some of the "normal" times are so long you allow yourself to believe that it is all over and everything is okay again. And then you hear a song she used to sing, see her favorite movie, get a whiff of a fragrance that makes you think she is right there, or you see someone in the grocery store that looks just like her from behind and when she turns around, your heart plummets to your stomach because you realize it is not her. It will never be her.
Off and on during the past twelve months I have dreamed that I am in a familiar place and I am searching for her. No one I ask can tell me where she is and the more I look, the emptier I feel. And then I awaken to the unavoidable and sometimes suffocating truth that, from time to time, I will always feel this sense of loss. The irony is that while she was sick and living under my roof, I let myself believe that because of the pain of my past with her, I would miss her but I wouldn't need her. I haven't needed her my entire adult life. But I did need her and the needs she met in me went unrecognized until she was no longer there to meet them.
The loss of a parent is a vacuous feeling, a void that can never be filled. Even so, there is comfort in Psalm 68, that he is a father to the fatherless (and a mother to the motherless) and that He daily bears our burdens. No chasm of sorrow and loss is too great for Him. He holds my hand and walks with me through the messy inevitabilities of this life. And He performs this intensely intimate miracle for all who dare to ask Him. Sorrow and suffering are not purposeless realities of life...they serve to bring to pass something deep within us that I don't think we will truly understand until we cross over into eternity. And I'm okay with that.