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{ I've Heard the Whisper ... }

Nobody likes to sit in the dark.

That’s what I tell him as I flip on the light so he can clearly see his granola bar, handful of Froot Loops and his Star Wars vitamins.

No one wants darkness.  It’s heavy and depressing.  Oppressing. It feels sneaky and devious. It can feel scary and hopeless.  It’s a wet blanket on the warm fire of a sun-filled day. It snuffs out all the hope and brilliance, ideas and dreams, that you had during the day. In the dark it all shifts. It all feels worn and tired, old and pointless; you feel lost in a forest of trees with eyes and faces and arms and you wonder why you ever thought you could find your way out or change the world.

The darkness can be such a storyteller of lies.

The darkness can be such a sanctuary for the Teller of all the lies. 

And the darkness can be banished... just. like. that.

“Let there be light.”

God proved in the very beginning, before elephants and man and oceans and babies... He proved first that beyond creating, beyond teaching leaves how to change colors and birds how to migrate and tides to come in... He showed first that He had power over darkness.  Over the void.  Over the nothingness.  

He was and He is and His command, whether spoken or thought, caused the black to tuck its tail and go running.  Skittering into complete oblivion.  Not just hiding.  Not just slipping under a couch or behind a cloud or into a closet for awhile... completely unable to skirt around God’s whispered but thundrous command. Go and it went. 

I find I’ve been holding my breath.  While I’m reading, while I’m writing, while I’m starting laundry. I’m holding my breath and I think it’s because it feels like I’m holding my heart together.  Like if I just pull it all in, the fragments of my heart won’t splinter off and stab themselves through my skin.  

Not that my grief is or can be hidden, but somehow I think that’s what my poor little heart thinks. If I just hold it in... maybe it’ll go away.  Maybe I can have the power to banish all that, too.  Maybe I can pretend that it’s all a terrible, awful dream and I’m going to wake up. 

Surely I will wake up soon.

My lungs are screaming and I don’t even realize it. My sister held me and rubbed my back and whispered, “Just breathe deep.  Deep breaths.” And I didn’t even know I wasn’t breathing.

The darkness dwarfed, outweighed, everything. 

It’s so heavy and I drop everything just to hold it against me. I don’t know what else to do. It’s just there, like a bundle shoved in my arms, bags and bags of heavy groceries and burden and it’s just there, hanging in my hands, slipping heavy off my fingers, and I just stand and hold my breath and hold it all. I don’t know what to do with it. Where to set it down. Where to put it away.

We all have said it in the past week. What do we do? Where do we go? What do you need, what can I do? What can I do, what can I do... 

How do we fix it, explain it, redeem it? It’s silly, but our desperation whispers it quiet in the back, in the farthest room away, we hear it through the walls of our selves... how do we get her back? How do we reverse it?

And we can’t. And the darkness, if you let it, will fill your empty cup to overflowing.

I drag it all out from under my bed on the drive home. I sing it out and cry it out and pray it out. I talk it out and try to think it out. The sun beats down on my dusty minivan and I just want to go home. I want a hug. I want my babies and kindness and someone to be gentle with me, because I’m so thin right now. I feel like I’m transparent and I’m walking around just waiting on someone to step on some stray piece of myself that I’m suely dragging and I know, I know, it will all come unraveling and spinning unwound around my ears.

I pull into Chick-Fil-A for lunch. Opt for a sweet tea over an iced coffee from Starbucks. Why? Because I just wanted someone to be so, so nice to me. I nearly cried with how decently they added my chicken sandwich to my order, did I just want pickles, or could they add tomato and lettuce, too? How they asked if they could help me with anything else (No, no, you can’t. I wish, I wish...) how they wanted a name for my order, how they wished me to have a good day, how they thanked me for letting them serve me today. Tears bit at the insides of my eyelids and I bit on my lip to keep it away. Held my breath, again.

“You’re not going to cry just because someone was nice to you as you bought waffle fries.”

But... in all of this. Guys, that’s all I know. That’s all I know is to be unendingly kind, unceasingly compassionate, unwaveringly aware that we’re all fighting battle after bloody battle. And if we’re not careful with each other, if we’re not open with the tender and open with the acceptance and honest with the truth and the real, the darkness wins. It swallows all the good, all the winning that could come.  That should come.  If we let it, the memories we shared and the laughter we hold onto and the things we love about the bright, funny, creative, talented, joy-giving that we lost... we will lose us.

We will lose on what could be the most beautiful, extraordinary, unexpected, ripple effect ever.  Ever ever.

It only takes one to start it. One drop. One stone. One bubble on the water. 

And it all quakes and lets go and trembles across the surface. Changing the entire thing. Changing the view of things forever.  If you’re watching. If you’re paying attention. If you’re willing to go forward and let go of the rewind.

None of us know how. None of us know how to exist in a new normal when your old normal felt just fine. Just beautiful. Just kind of perfect. But we’re here now and the path is set before us and I watch a new way eat away at the night. The sun struggling up in the midst of a foggy, dusky morning.

And I’m with the sun, struggling to stand on shaky legs in the light of a new day, a shadowy, fog-filled Wednesday. It’s just another day like any other day, but unlike any other day. I’m the same but different. Unprepared. Unexplainable. Just here, beating and breathing and questioning and going on, kind of. 

Every step feels like a betrayal. Every moment of peace I feel, betrays a moment that she didn’t. Every joke I laugh at, every mundane task that I do, every phone call or text to a friend, feels like a tragedy. Like I’m cheating on memory. Cheating on love. And I’m not, I’m just living, but in the face of death, of letting go, of an unprepared for end, we’re all left hanging and living and walking and breathing shallow. And it all feels like a beautiful, tragic, unfair scene.

We keep replaying and simulatenously trying to fast forward, and it’s the in between that has us such a wreck. What do we do with now? We knew what to do then, or thought we did, we know all the things everyone says about the future - that time will heal, that time will tell, that time will give us perspective and more chances to love - but right now? What do we do with the right now? It’s always the inbetween that gets sticky. A little lost or misdirected.



And I smile. Just a little.  Feel it just a bit around the edges.

But... God.

A few weeks ago, I read it to my son before he hopped on the bus with the exuberance only a six-year old can muster at 6:45 a.m. I read how many times that phrase is in the Bible, how the story looks to be this, seems to be that, the whole pot stirring one direction and you think you know the outcome... and then it all changes. The atmosphere itself melts a little, submits. It was this and going to be that, BUT GOD.

It’s dark and feels hopeless... but God.
It’s confuisng and unfair... but God.

And I stutter it to myself, I have for days. “But, God..” but, but. We didn’t get this chance. We didn’t get that warning. We didn’t pick up, weren’t grateful enough, weren’t loving, weren’t present, we just... weren’t. Enough. And the fears and the excuses and the regret bubbles against our bitten lips.  We’ve been biting our lips for days. Trying to keep it in. Trying to let it out. The ragged edges of grief dragging itself up and down our spines, rubbing us raw.

It’s all perspective. Night and day.

The hesitant, fearful, trembling, “But God...” and the tearful, trusting, hanging onto a sliver, or maybe just the simple idea, of hope, “But God...” Can You change this? Can You redeem this? Can You show us what we need to know in all of this, in this hard, hard story?

I nod in the dim dark, the dim light, of my music/office/sanctuary.

Yes.  I believe He can. I believe He will.

The rain splatters like heavy tears onto my sidewalk, onto the roof of my house. The gutters catching and running free, the earth soaking it up, the Fall leaves dancing and almost twirling, like hundreds of tiny dancers on tiny limbs... and I think of her and I think of all of us and I think of God.

I think of what we had and give thanks. I think of what will be... and give thanks.

And I watch the dark run.

"Now the earth was formless and empty,
darkness covered the surface of the watery depths,
and the Spirit of God was hovering over 
the surface of the waters..."
~  G e n e s i s   1 : 2

"He will carry the lambs in his arms,
holding them close to his heart..."
~ I s a i a h   4 0 : 1 1  


  1. Breathtakingly honest and real. Full of hope. May we all "but God..."

  2. So often I don't have the words to express how I feel. You have eloquently vocalized your deepest thoughts and feelings during a time of loss. I hope others can read this and find some hope in the Light during times of darkness. I think of you and your family and you go through this dark hour of grief.

  3. Thank you, Aunt Grace. You're so encouraging.

  4. i needed to find this today. thank you for articulating so well. i too hold my grief & my heart in tight like an inhale. <3 but God can handle everything that comes out when we let it go.


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