Today it was 16 weeks since our lives changed. For some reason, I had a really hard time of it this morning. I am usually fine every Sunday, being surrounded by my church family and worshipping God together. But today was just gut-wrenchingly sad.
Jenna’s friend Joseph came and sat on my lap for a little while this morning before church started. How did he know I just needed a toddler to love on? As I sat there swaying him on my lap and feeling his soft hair against my cheek, I was comforted by the familiarity with which he swayed along with me. If it weren’t for the weight difference (Joseph is a chunker and Jenna was petite) I would have been able to close my eyes and pretend that the muffin was on my lap. It certainly was tempting to pretend anyway.
During the service I got a phone call from a friend from whom I haven’t heard since Jenna passed away. Her son often spends time here over the summer and my boys have been asking if he can come over again. I was glad to get her phone call but she told me that her son is ambivalent about coming here now that Jenna is gone. It saddens me that my children have not only lost a sister, but that some of their friends are avoiding visiting us. I assured my friend that there is no ‘spirit of heaviness’ floating around my house and that life carries on pretty much the same way it did before. For some reason my friends’ response was: “That makes me sad.”
I had no opportunity to ask her what she meant but her comment bothered me. Does she want us to walk around under a heavy cloud instead of letting Jesus lift our burdens and bring us his peace and joy? Or does she think that I don’t miss my little girl and that it doesn’t matter to me that she’s gone? Or did she interpret my comment to mean that nothing has changed in our lives and Jenna’s death didn’t affect us at all?
Nothing could be further from the truth. Life on the outside might seem to be the same, but on the inside everything is different. I am different. I will never be the same Sumi that kissed my husband and two of my boys goodbye before boarding that aeroplane to South Africa in January this year. Everything in my life falls into two categories right now. Before 17 February 2008, and after that same date.
Shortly after Jenna left us my sister and I were shopping at a store and I made a comment about how strange it was that everything seemed so normal and that none of the shoppers who saw us even knew that our lives had been irrevocably changed. She responded: “Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?” She was referring to the lyrics of an old Carpenter’s song:
Why does the sun go on shining?
Why does the sea rush to shore?
Don’t they know it’s the end of the world,
it ended when you said goodbye…
In some ways that song is true, life as it was has ended. The world keeps spinning on outside my window while the path we are walking on still seems so unreal. Still, hopes of a new life and a new thing being done in me springs forth and I can honestly say there is much joy in the middle of the sadness.
The Bath and Body Shop is having their sale this week and I went to stock up on some yummy body creams. I remember how the little princess would beg for lotion every time she saw me putting it on and how she would take a deep sniff of its’ fragrance once she’d smeared it all over her hands and arms and legs and tummy. I was tempted this morning to put away the half-used tube of body cream that was bought when Jenna was still with us, and open a fresh one. Jenna had held that particular tube of lotion and to use it up and throw it away is to lose yet another Jenna connection. My temptation to hold on to every single little thing is a feeble attempt to freeze time, and not to let it go on relentlessly without Jenna. Yet I am powerless to do so, and this tube of lotion will eventually be used (which is better than letting it go rancid on the shelf) and tossed away. The memories of my lotion-loving muffin however, can not be taken from me.
God was faithful to love me through his people today. When I needed an extra hug, he sent someone to give me one. (Thanks, Dana!) Another lady from church said she could feel my pain clear accross the room and she came and carried some of it for me.
My oldest friend in the world surprised me with a phone call today (all the way from sunny South Africa) and it was such a joy to talk to her. She said something (or did we both say it?) about how my blog is a place where people are able to come alongside of me and help carry my burden. I am so aware of the blessing this blog has been to me. It has been a form of expression, but it has also given all of you a window into my life and your support in the form of comments and prayers has been priceless. I think I would be in a much worse place, if it weren’t for all of you – thank you!
I have had many thoughts I wanted to share. I have a full blog entry in my archives that I haven’t published yet. It seemed a bit lame to me (my thoughts have been a bit foggy this week) but I might go back and hit the publish button soon.
We did a wonderful study on the yoke of God at bible school and I spent some time digging deeper into the concept this week. I’d love to blog about it soon. It is a far reaching study for me and a very timely one for our day and age.
Anyhow, thanks for reading and letting me ramble. Heather, I loved that phone call…thanks!!!