A lot has been on my mind this week….a lot of pain & agony has come across my “radar” with people in my life….and at times I feel myself standing still, frozen, not knowing how to move forward and assist those wading through such sorrow and trauma….so I’ve been processing a bit….here’s what I got….
Yesterday, I packed the kids in the car all sunscreened up and probably sweating in their little bathing suits, and we headed to the pool. This week has been HOT and our aircon has been broken for about a week (thankfully was fixed at last, first thing this morning) so going to the pool seemed like a survival strategy more than a fun activity, though I knew the kids would have a blast.
We pulled out and as we hit the curve in our street, just 4 doors down, I saw cars parked up and down both sides of the road and a hearst in our neighbors driveway. Today they laid a young wife and mother to rest. Last week, this young mom, kissed her two little girls good-bye as she and her husband headed to the hospital to have their 3rd little girl. After 36 hours of labor, they decided to do a c-section. I don’t know all the details, but I know that this 26 year old bled to death during, what has become a very standard operation, probably righ infront of her husband.
When I heard the news (from our friends across the street), my heart ached and I wanted to cry out. Just as a mother, I can’t imagine leaving my babies so early and then the reality that she never saw it coming….her babies never saw it coming….how do you even begin to explain to small children this happening? And I thought of the husband, now having two little girls and an infant baby girl to get through this on his own…without his lifelong partner by his side. All these thoughts flooded my heart and mind…and I was humbled.
I knew the funeral was yesterday, but seeing all the cars and seeing a little girl at the house, who I wondered if she was one of the daughters of the woman who had passed, just sorta hit me. Here I was, going through my routine of just spending the day with my kids in what I was imagining would be a fun but probably a bit stressful outing and this family was never going to see their wife, their mommy, their daughter, their sister again.
Earlier in the week my husband told me that some good friends of our’s, a young couple who are getting married this year, have just found out that her mother has inoperable brain tumors. Without chemo she will live 3 months, with it maybe a year. Again, the heart just screams!
After our outing at the pool yesterday, I dropped Rocco off at the inlaws and took Maddie to some friend’s house. We haven’t seen them since Christmas, so was good to catch up. My friend is a single mom of 3 teen-agers and one young adult. To say that her life has been “hard” would be one of the greatest understatements ever written down. This woman has fought her whole life, for her life and now is fighting for her kids as she tries to protect them from an abusive ex-husband. At the moment, they are living an existence that I’m not sure I could bare….in fact, I know I could not….even with Jesus, her life is so hard and her lack of support so great (especially from the church which makes this even a more desperate siutation), that I would have lost the plot ages ago…but she is still fighting hard and I am in awe of her.
My little girl loves her “big kids” and we went over so the kids could swim in the pool while her and I caught up. It wasn’t long before my friend was just weeping about things that had happened right after Christmas…things that no mother should have to face or endure…things that no child should have to wrestle with. Again, my heart broke. She told me about meeting with an “old friend” someone who was to meant to be a “spiritual mother” of sorts. This woman told her she wasn’t doing enough to get her kids back on track, that she saw her leaving the church one day because she just wasn’t trying, (all of these things I know to be untrue). When my friend outright told her that she just needed help and she needed family because she had none and her kids were starting to believe that the “family of Christ” was a joke because noone ever came into their home and why, if this woman was her “friend”, couldn’t she come visit some times?? This woman looked at her and said “My husband has no connection with you and my kids are ‘over’ your kids, so I just can’t do that…” And my friend looked at this woman and said “I don’t need you to fix my problems, I just need you to be here with me.”
And I sat there….just broken for my friend and convicted about other times I have pulled back from her and others because I just couldn’t “fix” their problems….because I had no solution and when I tried it didn’t work because some times, many times, life’s problems just can’t be fixed…they are there full time and we are called to just manage them and lean on Jesus so as not to get swallowed by them. How many people do we all walk away from because their problems are too great, their life too messy and after a few well intended gestures of help, the issues are STILL there, so obviously there is nothing we can do for them, they need to just figure it out, so we will be on our way???
So I’ve been thinking about my neighbors down the street….and our friends getting married with this heavy weight about her mom on them….and my friend and her 4 gorgeous kid who have just suffered so much and will continue to probably suffer for awhile….and my friend Julie who has 2 small children and from what we can see, is in the final stages of battling cancer….and those sweet babies in Newton and their families who have to move on without them….and I think, what the hell??? How do you intervene in these circumstances??? How do you help??? How do you make even one dent in these despairing situations for people who through no fault of their own, are just baring the brunt of a fallen world right now???
And then I’m at the pool and I look around and see that in this very crowded place, there are far more mommies than daddies. In the baby pool, I see one daddy and a sea of mommies chasing their little ones and I think….As women, we ARE the predominant nurturers and healers in our children’s lives….in our husband’s lives….in our friend’s lives…in our world. Whatever else we may do and are destined for, God HAS gifted us with tender hearts and compassion and instinct on how to just “be there” when life hurts. Not saying men can’t and don’t do this….but I think it’s not insane to say, they have to work at it more….for us, we just know. I don’t know why…but I looked around at that pool and saw ALL these mommies and thought “Like it or not, WE are the main source of emotional strength, knowledge and discipline for our children, especially when they are young”….and then I thought of my neighbors and just hurt for those sweet girls, who won’t have their mama anymore….because losing any parent as a young child is just huge, but losing your mama, the one who gave you life, the one who spends most days with you from birth to age 4-5, will just leave such a hole to fill. And I felt the weight of my own responsibility and privelege as I watched my own two play and laugh wildly…and I prayed “Dear Jesus let me have a long life of doing the job of being their mama….please!”
I’m thinking all these things and I’m all over the place (incase this entry hasn’t made it apparent) and then I reflect back to my friend’s statement yesterday, “I don’t need you to fix my problems, I just need you to be here with me”. And suddenly, a bit, how to help my friends and others living with such hardship and sadness, makes sense. The Bible says to, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”(Romans 12:15) and I think sometimes we need to remember that it is really that simple. Life often hurts and it’s going to keep hurting in big ways for many people, until Jesus returns. And we are not going to be able to fix or resolve every hurt that comes into the lives of those we love and come in contact with…but some times the hardest thing is to just “be there”, to sit in the sorrow, to absorb the horror and pain that someone sitting next to us is feeling and let them know it’s okay that it hurts….it’s okay that it’s lonely….it is OKAY that it STILL hurts and their problem is not going away, because neither are you….neither am I.
So I am resolved to keep being there. I can’t fix my friend’s problems….I can’t suddenly wave a wand and take all the pain away from my dear friend with the 4 hurting and traumatized teenagers….I can’t bring my neighbor’s wife and mommy back….I can’t stop the tumors in my friend’s mother’s brain or come up with a pharmaceutical miracle for my friend Julie….and the friends and families in Newton can’t bring those babies back or help those parents feel any “better”, faster….but I and you and WE can just be there….holding hands, listening (even if for years), looking at a situation realisitically and saying to our friends “There is nothing you can do to make this go away and it could be here awhile, so let’s sit in it together….” and pray! Because while we are there as much as we can, ultimately Christ is there through it all….ALL of it….and He knows exactly when relief will be coming and He knows what lessons there are to be learned….and He knows better than anyone the power of love in grief.
So I have a card and a small gift bag of some “stuff” for two little girls and a baby…and later today, I am going to go four doors down, knock on the door, probably say something very uneloquent but hopefully not stupid or unintentionally hurtful and let my neighbor know that we are here, we are going to be here and I will probably let him know occosaionally that we are STILL here, if he or his sweet girls need it. Because his life is gonna hurt bad….and those little girls are going to miss their mommy….for a long time….and I have no idea how many people in his life, he knows are going to be there for the long haul….so I’m throwing my name in….
“But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting; And my prayer kept returning to my bosom. I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.”