We gather around the casket.
The priest is saying words, a prayer maybe, but I am not paying attention. My eyes are going from my brother, to the ground, to the way he holds my hand.
He is strength while I am weak. I know I’m leaning hard into his right shoulder, shaking with the heaviness of this grief. He doesn’t let go of me.
He doesn’t let go when we walk back to the car, away from the burial of our grandma. Who wore a blue babushka, squeaky white shoes, and always told me to “never get old.”
He doesn’t let go as we sit and greet people for a three day viewing. I ask him to stay and he does. Only leaving to bring back cucumber water.
I tremble and he looks at me with concern, are you okay? I think I laugh nervously and say, yes, I just want her to get up. Wake up. I am afraid and heavy. I think he knows, offering his silence.
He doesn’t let go when we sit together for the funeral mass. He traces the bottoms of his brown shoes, making me laugh as everyone weeps. When I am supposed to be singing.
He doesn’t let go when we leave the church. He still is making me laugh, over the priest singing too fast to be understood.
He doesn’t let go on the plane ride home. He asks if I want his blanket, drapes the red square, says, you can lean on me if you want. And I do.
Losing my grandmother before Christmas of 2014 took everything out of me. It took everything out of my family. One question has echoed from God to me throughout this healing, will you be content with how I show myself to you?
If I’m honest, I haven’t been content with the way God reveals himself to me. I always want it to be big, grand, and since my grandma has passed I’ve wanted him to part the clouds, come down and say, it’s all going to be alright. I’m taking you home with me.
I’ve just wanted the grief to go away.
But God knows I’m not ready to go to heaven yet. I need to see him here on earth. In a personal way. I need it more than I can understand.
I never expected God to come in such small tangible ways as he did through my brother.
From refusing to let me sit in the car the day we found out my grandma passed. Handing me the last Coke, his favorite soft drink. A slice of double fudge chocolate cake I don’t remember eating maybe one bite of from his job.
All these little, wonderful ways that hit the most in my need.
And maybe that’s what God has been revealing about himself since those moments with my brother.
You will find your contentment when you are empty. In me.
I will pull you from your brokenness. I will say your name with love in my eyes. I will wipe your tears with a paper towel. I will give you nourishment. I will hold you up. I will make you laugh just to see you smile.
I will cover you always with my love. And you are free to lean in and receive me. Forever.
Author’s Note: I’ve been holding onto this for 2 years. 2 years of complete fear, bad dreams, friends who’ve showed up time and time again with texts and calls and prayers and themselves. Family who manage to make me laugh and smile, regardless if they know the ache is still very much alive inside. Not just for me/family, but anyone who has lost someone.
2 months ago something prompted me to finally write this, finally let it out, breathe. I still don’t want to let this go. The tears are still randomly coming and I don’t know what will happen.
But today, I’m letting it go.
Whoever reads this, in whatever state you find yourself in today, know God is with you. He doesn’t leave in the high places and will hold you so near in the low, sometimes you won’t even be aware. You are never alone & his light never leaves you. He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow. And father, I pray you make this known to us today, everyday, that your love, You never change. Your love, faithfulness chases us always. In the sorrow. In the happy. You turn our mourning into joy. Be with us wherever we may be. In Jesus name. Amen.