So often we buy into the view that our inner self (thoughts, feelings, and will) is just the mind, but that view of your inner self is so very wrong. And anyone who has experienced loss can tell you that the mind and the heart are not just two different organs, they are almost two different beings, but really they two different ways of interacting with the world. Through that heart we feel for one another, love one another, but the mind is all logical, at times cold and ruthlessly calculating.
But after the loss of a loved one you can feel the three go there seperate directions, the mind is numb, the heart aches, and the soul is almost drunk at the wheel (not literally). This may not be an entirely accurate, but I wanted to capture my state after my dad passed away. I was broken, not physically, but in pretty much every other way. My usual stoic self couldn’t handle my new reality.
I remember driving my mom home from the hospital, we talked a bit, tried to put into words what had just happened, and how we felt about it. But I wasn’t really there. My mind was numb not just then, but for days after. What went on around me seemed like a dream that I was unable to wake from. When I was able to feel again, all I could feel was a dull ache where my heart used to be, and that ache reached into depths of who I was. My mind knew that my Dad was in a better place, that his pain and suffering was all gone, replaced with endless joy. It comforted me knowing and believing that when I see him again, it will be tears of joy, instead of the kind tears shed at the hospital. But my heart didn’t seem to grasp the concept. It ached, it cried, it was broken, it had a giant hole right in the middle and no amount of knowing something was going to fix it. Only time and God’s gentle touch seem to be the cure.
People often wonder how someone makes it through those tough times, and while I could offer you all the Church answers possible, but the simple truth is that the support of friends and family make the going much easier to bear. The out pouring of love on my family was amazing. The next day friends came over and cleaned my Mom’s house from top to bottom. Food overflowed from my mom’s refrigerator, and I don’t think it stopped coming in till weeks after. Friends and family called, flew in, or drove in, some we hadn’t seen in years, to be with us (physically or in spirit) during an extremely rough time. One thing that really blew our minds were the financial gifts, people and congregations we hardly knew were such an amazing blessing to our family by giving money, it was truly awesome to watch God provide for us. When the distraction of friends and family finally ends, and where the rubber meets the road that’s where you will find God most, because that’s when you will need him most. Don’t get me wrong, God is in your friends visiting, bringing you food, or caring for you in other ways. But most of us are to wrapped up in our own things to notice God’s subtle touch. It’s not till all that is gone do we really seek God and our real healing begins.
For me personally, I turned to my angel, Arielle, for comfort and support. At first we didn’t talk much about feelings or try to work through the issues I was dealing, we more chit chatted about what was going, the real and tangible things that are easy to talk about (weather, funerals, you know). Eventually Arielle asked more detailed questions and as I struggled to answer them, I would work out how I felt. Arielle was amazingly patient and would listen to me ramble on and on about some weird storied I had to tell or just stay by the phone and listen when i didn’t have anything to say at all. In many ways I think having Arielle there to support me really made those early months much more easy to bear.
Things get easier as time moves on, that doesn’t mean I don’t think about my dad, in fact I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where I don’t think about him. Penn State scores just about move me to tears (I’m not sure if a win or a lose is worse). And ask Arielle how many times I’ve told her, my dad used to do this, or my dad used to love that. I’m sure she’ll never get sick of hearing about him, but I’m sure my kids will. I used to think it weird when my dad would drive us to see where he played football as a kid, but I think I’m starting to understand, why we were out there and what he was trying to tell us. It’s just to late for us to enjoy the understanding together.
As my head and heart started to get back in sync, I realized a few things. First that my time on this world is short, so I better start living my life, here in the real world. From Jan 2008 to now I’ve been free of the chains called World of Warcraft and Pornography. Second I realized I better get right with God (Thanks to Arielle’s encouraging). I had lived with this idea of me coming back to the Lord when I was good and ready for too long (I was really pushing my luck). I started reading several books Desire by John Eldredge, Driven by Eternity (Thanks to Arielle), and a technical vb.net book. All three books were instrumental in preparing me for the months ahead. There are no coincides with God. The book Desire, was God’s first steps towards a true healing of my still aching heart. In it John describes what he went through after the death of his best friend, of course his situation didn’t match mine exactly, but the main point God was trying to get a acoss to me were still valid. The book Driven By Eternity was God’s next step, God used it to paint a very vivid picture in my mind of where my dad was at and how happy he is and forever will be. The peace that came to my heart after reading those books is really undescribable.
It was during this period of time that my 25th birthday fell. And on a whim (so I thought), I decided to take the day off from work and drive a lot of miles, to be exact, to see Arielle and to hang out with the girl of my dreams. I had had a crush on her for a very long time. At the time though I just needed to get away from where I was at, away the pain that still lingered, away from the big empty hole at the family birthday party, and away from the rut that had become my life. And while my stay here in FL that time was temporary, it was the foundation for something God had been planning for my life, for a very long time.