Burn victims, maimed accident victims and people with severe birth defects or obvious physical abnormality cause me to behave oddly. I am compelled to look and yet when confronted by a returned glance I quickly turn away. I have pity for them but it is easier to turn my head and my feet in the opposite direction than to face what makes me uncomfortable and feeling a little awkward. Beneath the physical scars and handicaps of these individuals are all the unseen emotional wounds and scars that their lot in life has produced. Their physical scars and suffering run deep to the bone, to the very heart and soul of the individual. Like a leper who is banished to his leper colony he suffers alone most of the time. Only his leper friends truly know the depth of the lepers pain. Grief is much the same way.
The death of my son Jacob has scarred me for life. I and am a member of an elite club of a few people who paid the highest price to become a member. We are our own people who speak our own language which outsiders can never interpret or understand. We are every parents worst fear, they don’t want to become us and we don’t want them to know what we know. They possess compassion and pity, but lack empathy because only experience can truly bring empathy and understanding. People say, “I can’t even imagine how you feel.” and they are right. I never understood this unique kind of loneliness and pain with the deaths of other close loved ones. Losing a child puts us on an island with few citizens, but in the loneliness there are a few visitors who see past the pain, the scars the emotions and their own fears and minister to us in a special way.
Part of me died in the death of my son. I am different and I never expect to be the person I used to be. This is the new normal, and continuing grief is still shaping what this new normal looks like. I wrote all you have just read about 4 months ago and would like to add to it now. I am different but I have had friends recently say they have have seen glimpses of the old Mike from time to time. I am somewhat glad to to hear people say that but in all honesty I wouldn’t want to be the old Mike ever again.
Grief is chisel in the hand of God. He hammers on us to create whatever masterpiece the Lord has in mind. I am his workmanship. He is the potter and I am the clay. What God is creating is better than what I was before and his sculpting project isn’t complete yet.
It has been my experience over the last year that I feel most comforted by people who make me feel normal in my new normal. They see my scars and my malady yet they don’t walk away. When they are with me I am comfortable to laugh again, and to cry at the drop of a hat. These dear people take our hand and walk us back on to the path of living. Simple things they do with us are restoring the path of life for us. They walk with us on our lonely island and we show them around; they are silent while we speak. They are not wordy people and yet they always have a few encouraging quips that help us to keep moving onward and upward.
Tonight as I opened this draft and read the 400 or so words that I managed to type out some months back. I started writing this just after the one year anniversary, I had forgotten that I even started it but realized something great as I sat here. Four months later the wounds have healed a little more and the scars are taking more of their permanent shape. God has chipped away at the sharp edges in my life with his hammer and chisel. He sees clearly what I can only see in the dimness of the light. He’s still working on me
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)