Grief and Gladness (Gratitude), A “Curious Blend”

In silence, Lord, I feel now
the curious blend of
grief and gladness in me
over the endings that the
ticking and the twirling of things brings.

(Ted Loder, “I Teeter on the Brink of Endings” – Guerrillas of Grace, Page 83.)

These lines from Ted Loder’s poem capture my pensive mood today. It’s Ronnie’s birthday and here I am, back at Lake Michigan, reflecting on the 2 1/2 years I had my loveable, funny, little brother in my life.  I sit along the Lake Michigan shore and decide to write him a letter to write him a letter, imagining him to be a big grown-up little brother: I have never written to him before.

Dear Ronnie,

I brought coffee to a friend’s office this morning, stopping at Starbucks to get just what he wanted. Doing this gives me a real life picture of what it might be like if you were still alive and lived close enough for us to celebrate your birthday. When my friend found I had lost all of you, he said I could be his sister – this was a gift.

Would you even like coffee? I don’t know. There is so much I don’t know about you. I’d bring you just what you wanted if you did! We’d visit, laugh at the latest family story, catch up on the kids. I think about how there is a sister-in-law and some nieces and nephews I will never know because you were gone so young.

We’d finish our coffee…I’d let you back back to work, give you a quick hug and a big sister kiss. We’d part and go our ways, knowing we’d see each other soon. I’d leave smiling and grateful for the gift you were to me, to our family.

Instead i enjoyed coffee with my friend, grateful for those who walk with me through the losses, offering presence more than answers. And now I am here at the Lake, one of my most favorite places, thinking of how grateful I am for your short life.

On my walk down to the beach I see this sunny-yellow flower, not quite opened all the way and I think of how you brought sunshine to our lives for such a short time. We never got to see who you’d be – another dimension to the grief over the loss of a young child. Dad says the greatest grief he has known is not knowing who you would have grown up to be, sort of like this flower isn’t all the way open.

I’m grateful for the laughter and the joy you brought into our home. Your smile was full of life. Your eyes sparkled with mischief. Often directing the imaginative play for you and Gordon, you were the one that thought of making the piano bench into the river barge and the floor into the river as you traveled up and down the river on your “barge.” Those barges on the river as we crossed the Illinois River into Peoria must have made quite an impression on your little 2 year old mind.

I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned as I processed your loss over the years at different stages of my life – the latest being Feb. 2009. As my Godly counselor prayed with me, I was able to see that Jesus was right there on that terrible morning, welcoming you into heaven, and holding me, while telling me how sorry He was that I was going through this. I have learned in a new way that God doesn’t promise we will have no pain, but He does promise His presence. And I am grateful.

I am grateful that through processing your loss, I learned that God is still good.   I’ll tell you that story some other time, but I expect you might already know about it.

And so very grateful I “found” you again, while grieving the loss of Gordon. I know you and Gordon and Brenda are just fine. I’ll be coming someday – until then, ya’ll save a place for me.

1 Reply to “Grief and Gladness (Gratitude), A “Curious Blend””

  1. Your walk through the “valley of the shaddow of death” brings to mind the testimony of David in Psalm 23…”though I walk through the valley of death…you are with me.”

    Experincing God’s presence radically changes perspective. Pastor spoke on “where were the angels on 9/11?” Only when we are distant from God do we ask such a question.

    A personal sadness…I wish I knew Ronnie and Brenda, too!

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