These waves can happen often, and sometimes they may overtake you. Horatio Spafford described it well in the familiar hymn, IT IS WELL. After the deaths of his four daughters at sea, he penned, “When sorrows like sea billows roll…”
Recently, while on vacation at the ocean and playing in waves, I discovered rather fast that tides can suddenly change, causing the waves to become unmanageable. I specifically learned to never turn my back on the sea! After riding a few waves I thought I had everything under control. It was then that I turned around to see if my husband was watching when I got caught off guard by a billowing wave. It dumped me head first, looping me several times around my boogie board before landing on my feet again. As I surfaced the water my son was by my side and said, “Mom, you alright? Do you need help?” After gaining my equilibrium and composure, and the assurance of his presence, I opted to get out of the water and enjoy the waves from a safer vantage point.
On this same vacation, I experienced another wave. Only this was a wave of grief that Spafford so articulately described in his song as a rolling “sea billow”.
We were at the same resort with my son and his family that we had spent time at with our daughters just months before they died. There is a choice of four pools at this resort. This day we were in the one that held many memories of the girls. The others were swimming, talking, or relaxing so I allowed my thoughts to go back in time with Jessica to this very pool.
At first, I tried to ignore the memories. But they were too vivid. I could see Jess standing in the water behind the fountain, then diving under it before performing her underwater handstand. Finally, I swam a lap of the pool imagining she was swimming right beside me as before. A tear fell from my eyes as I positioned my arms on the edge of the pool as we had once done while blowing water from our mouths. Only now, the water poured from eyes, and I began weeping uncontrollably.
I must stop! But the sea billow had already swept over me, and all I could do was to wait till it subsided. Suddenly, a butterfly landed poolside, close to where my arm was resting. Jessica loved butterflies. God had provided many such sightings of these beautiful creatures before to bring me comfort. Here was yet one more. Tears streamed from my eyes at the sight of this beauty.
Stepping out of the water I moved swiftly to the bathroom. A refuge to calm down my stirred up emotions. Suddenly the outside door opened and there stood my daughter-in-law.
Just as Joey had offered his help in the waves, Bree’s presence there in the bathroom brought me comfort. She asked, “Are you OK?” I went on to explain my journey back into time. With tears in her eyes, she said, “There are a lot of good memories here, aren’t there? Then we both cried and embraced.
Had I not embraced this wave, I’d have missed the sweet comfort of these warm and explicit memories along with the butterfly sent from God. I would also have missed a very special moment of comfort allowing someone very dear to me to share in my pain.
Grief is not something to be ignored, endured, hid, or to be done with. It is a day to day journey where you need to be present in each moment. We grieve because we love. We need to allow ourselves to be human, accepting the touch from not only God—but other humans as well.
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Please remember that you are eternally loved. There was no beginning and there will be no end to God’s love for you!