Last week I learned that life can be tragic and beautiful, sad and amazing, all at the same time. Dear friends of ours lost a baby boy, just weeks before his due date. We spent last week helping them, in very small ways, because that is all we muster, deal with unimaginable grief. I spent the week feeling, on an endless rotating basis, very sad, helpless and frustrated (because I can't fix it), angry (because I don't understand why this would happen), and guilty (because my life goes on as usual, and theirs has seemingly stopped, at least for a while. I was reading in Psalm 23 that "we walk through the valley of the shadow of death", but it seems my friends are stuck there, have been forced to camp there, to build a house almost, not just go through it). Bible quotes feel so trite I don't even recite them, but at the same time Biblical Truth is what we are clinging to. And oddly, at the same time, I saw beauty in the way their family and friends have gathered around them, in person and in prayer.
And even though sadness was like a blanket over the week, several good things did happen - a favorite former student dropped off a cd that he recorded and I spent much of Tuesday listening to it (it is really good - in fact, you can listen to it for free at chrisvanoli.com/music/). Each of my children texted me at different points during the week to report getting A's on two tests they had studied hard for, and we were all excited and relieved. On Thursday night, we had a freshman girls' Bible study over for dinner, and 15 girls showed up...with homemade cupcakes! We later hosted 25 freshmen for the Super Bowl, and enjoyed Jamey's almost-famous smoked ribs, chili, and amazing peanut-butter-chocolate-swirl cookies made by a freshman boy (I could hardly believe it! I want to call his mom and thank her for raising him so well!)
On Friday, I attended a small memorial service for little Charlie, along with Jamey (who spoke at it) and a few friends and members of the family. While there was overwhelming grief, and many tears, there was also hope and grace and childlike faith, and an awful lot of love. After the memorial, going from one emotional extreme to another, I headed to Jason's soccer game and got to watch my son, who was team captain that game, stop a couple of goals and play a great match (even though they lost; but just to watch him play was quite enough for me that day).
Our days have gotten easier; our friends' days may get easier, after a long while, but they will be always changed. I was reminded again and again that this earthly life is just temporary and that we hope for things to come, and we do not lose hope, ever, though things around us, that we see and feel, are sometimes exceedingly painful.
In God's uncanny timing, my Bible verse for this morning was this one, from John 16: "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."