At the end of my first year of teaching my mother suffered three strokes at the age of 47. My father helped nurse his bride of 28 years back to health. Then at the end of my second year of teaching...after celebrating their 29th anniversary & his 50th birthday....he died less than a week after being diagnosed with cancer. I arrived home two hours after he passed away...too late to say goodbye. I was devastated. I "processed" in many ways, but of coarse as an artist spent much time in my sketch book trying to work through all that was going on in my heart and mind. That's what artists do. We use our experiences, questions, pains, hopes, and dreams to fuel our artistic endeavors. For a long time I tried to capture the horror of cancer through my art. Notice I said "tried". I thought I needed to see the monster in order to fully deal with my dad's death. However, every time I tried to create a visual representation of cancer...it always ended up looking more like life. Macabre colors morphed into those of joy. Darkness morphed into light. I stopped trying to force myself to create something that was obviously not in me to do.
A woman giving birth to a child has a pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
I questioned why I was unable to create what I thought would be my catharsis. I wondered if I was not in touch with my emotions enough to do what I thought I needed to do. I spent much time in prayer trying to understand the reason for my seeming artist block. Then I realized why. I wasn't in that place anymore. I had moved beyond needing something/someone to blame, and was now seeing all the things that my father had blessed me with. I was seeing the similarities between us. I was remembering the wisdom he shared with me(in his own unique way). The encouragement & nudges(shoves!) I needed to become me that he gave. My mind could not think of the cancer...because it was so filled with thinking about the life my father had provided for me & guided me to embrace. I moved beyond blame...because that would hold me captive in a place my father would have never wanted me to remain!! Moving beyond the pain we are going through is not forgetting our loss, but choosing to live a life that has been reshaped by our circumstances...not crushed.
In this world...there will be trials, tribulations, pain, and grief that will permeate every part of our being. There will be days we think we can't go on because of how heavy our heart is. We will look inward & outward and feel that hope has abandoned us. However...we must look upward. We must look to the one who knows our pain...knows our loss...and knows we can't go on another minute in our suffering. He invites us to collapse in his arms & grieve. In the safety of his embrace we can ask our questions, scream our frustrations, and wrestle with our doubts. He will not let us go. He will not leave us. He knows our pain is real today.....but he also knows the joy in our tomorrow. He knows the promises he made, and he is faithful to fulfill them. He wants us to move beyond the moment when we are able, and remember the eternal that is waiting for us to embrace its truth.