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Yes to Seeing in The Dark

 

 

Grief is heavy today.  It’s awkward and cumbersome and frustrating and surprising.   Weird that it’s surprising, right? But it is, because so far the holiday season has been pretty much lovely.  It’s been fun to decorate and plan and shop and not worry about how Steve is or where we’re at in the Shadowland.  It hasn’t been overly-emotional or difficult and so maybe I thought I had moved into a new phase or something.  Not “through it” or “over it”, because I’m not yet convinced those phases exist, but maybe I thought I had moved into the “handling it” phase, like I had Olivia Pope’d my grief – all efficient and decisive and in control.  Heh.

 

This side-road of sadness snuck up on me because last week was awesome.  And Sunday was great. It was full of family and really fun.  But Sunday night, I felt the clouds roll in and I think I’ve identified the trigger point and I fear it’s going to sound crazy when I tell you what it was, but I’m telling you anyway because then you can tell me I am, in fact, not crazy.  So, I started on the gift-wrapping and it was going fine, until it came time to sign the tag.  To Josiah.  From…my pen hung in the air for a long time until I found the courage to write it.  Love, Mom.  Just Mom.  To Corey.  From….Bo. Just Bo.  Seeing my name all alone on the card made me feel as alone as I have felt since Steve went home and it made my kids look truly and honestly fatherless for the first time ever.

 

And that’s when the clouds rolled in, grey and weighty, with a suffocating kind of sadness. Usually they move in and out pretty quickly.  This time, they’ve lingered longer than I’d like – through two nights and two mornings and three coffee meetings and two Christmas movies.  Through driving and shopping and still more gift-wrapping.  I’ve fought it, but not very passionately.  I’ve jabbed at the air a bit, but I don’t think I’ve landed a real punch yet.  Grief makes you tired, is the thing, and sort of wild-eyed so I feel my aim is off.

 

This morning, I woke up and my Year of Yes seemed not just impossible, but invisible. Impossible, I can do.  I like impossible.  The quickest way to get me moving is to tell me it can’t be done.  But invisible? Different story. Today I have felt sorrow-blind, widow-blind and, consequently, Yes-blind.

 

But here’s what I know: I am following the One who can see in the dark.  I am living in relationship with the Light of the Whole Wide World, and though this corner is blind, He sees the entire road.  If I could see, I wouldn’t need Him to lead.  But I can’t, so I do.  I need Him. So much.

 

Because I have no other weapon to wield, I’m saying Yes to Day 143. The only day I can see.  The only truth I know – that He is good and all He does is beautiful.  He will be beautiful to me and in me and through me. Yes to that truth.  Yes to light.  Yes to life.

 

Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of darkest shadows. Isaiah 9:2

December 8, 2015 - 10:20 am

Heidi Rowles Friesen - How do you do it? How do you share such beautiful thoughts the pierce me right to the heart in wake of your difficulty? I need to lean into God’s protective arm more than ever today. I appreciate you so much for sharing in your vulnerability. You have given me a gift today. Thank you Bo.

December 8, 2015 - 11:08 am

Patty - Oh my word, this is *exactly* what happened to me yesterday….wrapping presents and the tag–from mom. Not mom and dad. Just mom. You are not crazy or maybe we are both crazy. My 12yr old was actually doing the wrapping–she brought me the pile and there were all the tags filled out “from mom”, and that pit in the stomach sets in. Now I have to finish the rest of the wrapping, she can’t wrap her own presents! I’m right there with you, Bo. Saying yes and clinging to the hope and truth we KNOW… whether I “feel” it at the moment or not I am saying yes.

December 8, 2015 - 5:17 pm

Kathy Dolyniuk - Oh Bo – this brought the tears.
The phrase “it made my kids look truly and honestly fatherless for the first time ever.” Yes – a whole new shadow land for them too.
I was 27 when I lost my mom and I look back and see that I was way to young and not ready for her to go so suddenly and violently (suicide). And we did not know God then. But now I know He does keep his promise to be a Father to the fatherless and I will be praying that over your kids and grand kids.

Kathy Dolyniuk

December 10, 2015 - 9:18 am

SCOTT M BARROW - HI BO STERN MY NAME IS SCOTT BARROW FROM A SMALL TOWN WASHINGTON NC. I ALSO HAVE ( ALS ) HAD IT SINCE 2013 AROUND 3 YEARS NOW YOUR STORY ABOUT STEVE WAS AMAZING. IT IS A DEVEASTATED DISEASE MY WIFE TAKES CARE OF ME ALSO . BUT I CAN STILL DO SOME THINGS IT HIT ME IN MY STOMACH AREA & WENT TO MY RIGHT LEG & NOW MY LEFT. MY UPPER PART IS OK BUT IS PROGRESSING. GOD WILL SEE US THREW IT. IM A STRONG MAN SOMETIMES I TELL PEOPLE IM HERE BUT GONE BECAUSE I AM BLESSED TO BE ALIVE BUT ALSO I HAVE ACCEPTED DEATH I FEEL LIKE IM HERE BUT GONE. I AM A CHRISTIAN CHURCH OF CHRIST & BLESSED TO HAVE SUCH A LOVING & CARING CHURCH FAMILY. JUST WANTED TO SAY HELLO & YOUR STORY IS AMAZING. GOD BLESS YOUR FAMILY. THANK U SCOTT

December 10, 2015 - 9:15 pm

Jeanne Boyd - Dear Bo,
I’d like to meet you someday, I think. Well, actually I will because we’re both headed–no, promised–to go where both your Steve and my Neil now are.

I can tell you love to express yourself thru writing, and you do it in a way that sounds effortless, but as we have both learned from caring for our husbands, nothing that is truly beautiful or meaningful comes without high cost. But thank you for writing the book about your struggle together. (If I read your story I might want to write mine.)

Neil died 10 years ago in Sept. Yours is fresh. It aleays helps me grieve a little more, to know someone else’s story. I don’t think that’s wallowing in it but getting deeper and longer perspective.

Wishing you a Christmas of tender & beautiful surprises.

Jeanne

December 12, 2015 - 9:02 pm

Sally - Oh Bo, yes the blindsides!! I find myself cruising along, moving on, not sad, just doing and wham. I see his favorite juice in the grocery store that I went out of my way to buy, or his misplaced sock behind the dryer, or his writing in a cookbook, his gym bag in the back corner of the closet. So unexpected and I’m not prepared for the flood of emotions. But once the tears are done I cherish the memories and begin again

December 15, 2015 - 8:08 am

Deb Pence - I lost my husband of 45 years to ALS on August 1st this year.I have been reading your posts and get encouragement from them. When I went to wrap first Christmas gift, I experienced the same wave of grief that you described. Thank-you for sharing your feelings.

December 18, 2015 - 11:06 am

Melanie - Hi Bo, I am also a mother of 4 and this is my second Christmas without my husband. I read your Beautiful Battlefields book last year and it was a tremendous help to me. My husband was 40 years old and he passed suddenly on Sept 11, 2014. Our boys are 14 down to 6 years old and they miss him terribly. I experienced similar things with the gift tags and Christmas cards. Last year I could not send any cards, but this year I managed a few. Then I question if I should have sent them because it looks like someone is missing. Sometimes when the feeling is right and your not being washed over in grief I have to tell myself, “I can do this” He will always be in our hearts and like you I rely on the hope of seeing him again. Merry Christmas to your family and be easy on yourself!

December 19, 2015 - 11:05 am

Victoria - When it comes to grieving, the little things really are the big things. Before our daughter died 23 months ago I wrote the names of our four children on all gifts and cards that we gave to others. Since she died I write ‘and family’ as I cannot bear to not write her name.

December 29, 2015 - 12:22 pm

Ashley - Dear Bo, I was reading your current post on the wedding week, when I saw the little link to “saying yes to darkness” at the bottom of your page. I knew it was the Lord because that is the only word that I’ve been able to use to describe where I’m at. My father has been in a Coma, slowly dying for a year..we hoped for a better outcome but we just weren’t that fortunate. I couldn’t quite put into words how this one year anniversary has made me feel, I couldn’t find a scripture, it was all just dark. Until I read this. Thank you for sharing, thank you for being broken with all of us, we ache with you, you bear a light for us, blaze a trail, and I can’t thank the Lord enough for it. – Ashley