Someone asked me that today. It was a heartbreaking question in the wake of a tragic circumstance. Both of us sitting on the sidelines of someone else’s tragedy but feeling the soul-crushing loss deep in our own souls because we live in community and we share each other’s burdens.
It doesn’t end, my dear. But it changes for those of us on the sidelines. Our heart scars bear testimony to what we witnessed and life goes on. What changes is the pit in our stomach goes away and the memory of the tragedy doesn’t haunt us in every moment. We daily are reminded, often in the little things, because it’s impossible to forget. The tears don’t flow every time we relive the moments but the heaviness remains in the memories.
Sometimes I remember something about that day or week or month and my mind relives the entire process. Sometimes it stretches that scar enough to make it hurt and other times it feels like the pain of a wound reopened. It’s never far from my mind, easily retrieved from the corners of my mind to be understood and not understood all at one time.
Sometimes it’s in the witness of another’s circumstance that we are brought back to the gut-wrenching knowledge of our own loss. But as time passes we are able to pick ourselves up much quicker. To find the joy in the places we know we can, to continue with the life we’ve been given.
I felt that today after the question had been asked. I stood in the pew in our morning worship service, thankful as always to be surrounded by people I love and who love me. My children crowded into the chairs beside and in front of me. Sunday mornings are often mornings of remembrance for me. I still can’t define why this is the case but I often find myself thinking of little Ryker as I worship. This morning my heart was full but he wasn’t far from my mind. Then a dear friend shared her heart. She shared of God’s mercy in the midst of tragedy and I was thankful for the reminder. But seconds later I felt the opening of my heart as my youngest son, hurdled the chairs in front of me, into my arms and sobbed, great heaving sobs into my chest. He felt it too. The reopening of a that wound, the recognition that suffering on this earth doesn’t ever end.
We find joy because God has shown us mercy but the sorrow never ends. It just changes. It is there for us to give back to Him daily. To live with the peace that one day it will be taken from us. But until that day it reminds us that we cannot travel this earth alone. It brings us back to His feet, seeking comfort.
Dear friend, it will end the day we come face to face with our Creator and alongside those gone before us, are able to lay ourselves at His feet.