Forward. That is the direction I need to be moving. Forward is where our son is. Forward is where I will see my Savior face to face.
Moving forward is not the same as moving on. Moving on is putting the past behind you and trying to forget. Moving on is something I will never do.
This blog is part of my strategy for moving forward. If I can document the sweetness of the past and the pain of present, perhaps it will be easier to move forward. If I can get it all on paper, then it will not be forgotten. Hans won’t be forgotten.
But of course it is not possible to get it all on paper. Even a short life has millions of moments. And there is much I do not wish to share, private blessings that I want to keep all to myself, treasures that are more precious because no one else saw them. Forgive me if keep these few jewels for myself. Anyway, how do you get a special look or a smell or a voice, or the sound of laughter onto paper? And even if it were possible, it wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else.
As I began writing, it was mostly for my own benefit. It kept me from sitting and thinking too much. It helped to make constructive use of my pain, allowing me to deal with it and be distracted from it at the same time. But, as the anguish eased somewhat (they were right about that), it occurred to me that maybe I should share this.
During the first weeks and months after Hans went home to be with the Lord, I read every book written by a grieving parent that I could get my hands on. I needed to hear from someone who had been through this. I am extremely thankful to those parents who put their own loss into words for the rest of us. Only you know how helpful this is. I pray this blog might help someone, too.
I also read all I could find, written by reliable sources, about Heaven. I would alternate reading books about the sorrow of losing a child with books about the joys of a place too wonderful for us to imagine.
Joy and sorrow.
For me, these concepts are two sides of the same knife blade and I find it difficult right now to experience them as separate emotions. I used to think they were on extreme ends of a spectrum, impossible to experience simultaneously. I did not know joy and sorrow could be so tangled up within a hurting heart, each emotion intensifying the magnitude of the other.
But, now I know.
So many painful moments, times when just breathing seemed too much, joy would rise up through the tears, not to displace the sorrow but to engulf and sanctify it. This overwhelming collision of emotions would sometimes come hard and fast without warning. Other times I could feel it building slowly and would arrange to find a place to be alone before it peaked. I began to call this new emotion I was feeling by name – Joysorrow.
Joysorrow. It is what I feel when, nearly collapsing with grief, at the very moment of I CANNOT DO THIS!, the Lord sends me the call of a bird, or a beautiful sky, or the flash of a memory. His comfort washes over me even as the choking, heaving sorrow wells up within my chest.
And then I am still before Him. This is Joysorrow.
I know there will be joyful moments in the future: weddings, births, holidays, golden leaves against a clear blue sky on a crisp autumn morning. And everyday joys that will be infused with sorrow because Hans is not there to share in it with us.
There will always be sorrow. But I know the joy will be there, too. Joysorrow.
So I have learned that joy and sorrow are two sides of the same coin. One of them is meaningless without the other. Together they are the stuff of which life is made. Our sorrow is redeemed and transformed by joy; our joy tempered and matured by sorrow.
Only Almighty God could unite two opposing forces such as these and render from them something glorious.