“Mom, I just wish I could do something.”
“We’d do anything.”
We had just spent hours with some of our dearest friends from church. Our grieving friends had had a super hard day, putting baby Isaac’s clothes away. Grandma Elaine had headed home to Iowa. And overall, they were just sad. We were sad with them, literally weeping together when Elam came in.
Elam had been trying to help XS and another boy slow down on the swings. The babysitters thought they were going too fast or high and he wanted to help. In the process, somehow this happened.
Elam was crying. Christy was crying. I was crying. It was slightly overwhelming.
Thankfully there were other moms and dads there and we got Elam bandaged up, other friends took over the conversation and somehow, with 12 kids, 3 babysitters, and 22 people total, we spent the evening together. We BBQ-ed, started an obligatory fire in the grill, killed some mosquitos and grieved together.
We also planned ahead for baby J coming in a few short weeks.
(True community – here is a freebie glance at a soon to be coming blog post. True community is when your 6-year old SON remembers your girlfriend’s due date. Just ask Elam: he knows it is May 30.)
It was devastating however to watch our friends grieve.
Shattering to walk into church behind them on Mothers Day.
Heartbreaking to get a “thank you” text from one of the grandpas exactly 14 days after it happened. It was mid-workout and after I read it at 10:00am, I knelt down on my exercise mat, cried a few hard tears, then picked myself up and got back to my push-ups and renegade rows. (Why is it when I experience hard resistance in class that I start to cry for real? Those bloomin’ renegade rows do it every week.)
Well the night after Elam hurt his arm and we had spent time with our friends, Calista had expressed herself simply,” I just wish there was something I could do! It is so hard to hear Elam in pain.”
And later when I was praying with the boys and I got quiet, Elam asked what I was thinking about. “I just wish there was something I could do. I asked Chris that earlier. I just wish I could do something to help them.”
“Well, we’d do anything Mom.” It was simple. Heartfelt.
I rarely don’t know what exactly to do. I mostly have a list of 25 things and it is a matter of which thing to do. And often I’m doing 2-3 of those things simultaneously. Especially when I’m solo parent for 14 days straight.
But in this grieving season, I am struck with such a sense of not knowing a single thing to do…
Except pray. Text. Stop by. Have lunch. Hug. Say “I love you.” Seemingly unhelpful, un-extrodinary things
Incidentally, for you liturgical types (of which I must not be b/c it took 4 attempts plus the use of my computer spell checker to get “liturgical” spelled correctly…) you know this. But we are now technically in “Ordinary Time.” It’s no longer Easter (did you know Easter lasts 7 weeks? I just asked Calista if she knew and she said it lasts 50 days. Yay. She listens.)
My devotional guide reminded me that in Ordinary Time, we don’t have feasts, reminders like Christmas, Lent or Easter to wake us up and keep us in tune with the Spirit.* Instead, now we enter in a time when we simply follow Jesus. In ordinary ways.
The bustle of family visiting, funeral planning and having to share the fresh, sad story is coming to a close.
Instead, my friends are taking their girls to school. Planning to return to work. Running their miles early in the morning. Putting away clothes. Returning overdue library books.
However, I’ll bet they wouldn’t call it ordinary. Nothing for them is ordinary, or normal. It is a new life, a shattered image of the dream they had been living.
And those of us around them wonder what to do, how to help. Or maybe we shift the conversation away from the pain because we just don’t know what to do.
When I haven’t known what to do lately, I have decided to do what I always do. Stick to the plan. Keep following. Running my miles. Serving dinner. Being a friend. Talking to the neighbors. Finishing the last Harry Potter book. Writing.
What is ordinary about a babe not waking from his morning nap after getting a full belly from his loving mother?
What is ordinary about going for a bike ride in the cemetery, where the roads are flat (a rarity in Duluth) and finding that babe’s gravesite?
What is ordinary about helping another car filled with people, who happen to be looking for the section where babies are buried in that same cemetery?
What will we find as we just do what we always do? Who will find? Or Who might find us?
- The book I am currently using for devotions is Bobby Gross’ “living the Christian year” (IVP of course)