Letters to Taylor: On Pain
My Sweet T,
This morning I woke suddenly with severe chest pain. For a split-second, I thought I was having a heart attack but once my brain kicked into gear, I realized that dreams and thoughts of you had clashed with my body as I was waking. The deep pain was the heartache of missing you. It’s happened several times since you left us for heaven, but always during the day, when I could pray and ask the Lord to calm my mind and body. This morning’s mental anguish morphed into anxiety, which caused the chest pain.
When you graduated to heaven, I worried that I might forget how much I need the Lord. Your needs and my lacks have kept me close to God for many years and I’m so grateful. A part of me thought that without you here, I might be tempted not to spend time with God, or I would forget how desperately I need his presence. In the last few weeks of your life on earth, I could feel the Holy Spirit so close to us, especially in your room, that I didn’t want to lose that. I know it seems a little crazy, but I feared that losing you would mean losing the sense of knowing and experiencing God’s presence so intimately.
But that hasn’t happened, except for a rare, small moment like this morning. No, my girl, instead I have been drawn to whisper continually to our God, communing with him, relying on the Holy Spirit to intercede for me when I have no words. After walking through the valley of suffering and death with you, the continued valley of grief has only strengthened my faith and the pain is but a reminder that yes, I still need the Lord and yes, he is always near to those who call on him.
I’ve thought a lot about how God wired me and how writing these letters to you has been such a wonderful catalyst of expressing grief. Sharing them makes me feel exposed; the responses and observations of others have tempted me to squelch and try to bury the grief. Stuffing it deep down instead of exposing it feels like it would be so much easier. Feeling it and revealing it is much harder than burying it. I think the judgment of others, both real and perceived, is what makes those who grieve become stuffers.
One of the things you’ve taught me on this journey is a sympathy for those who grieve and have no outlet or way to express their grief. Without expression, grief has a way of gripping tighter and tighter while the life of the griever becomes smaller and smaller. More than ever before, I understand the importance of finding healthy ways to express emotions.
I’m so glad that we lived the way we did when you were with us, savoring each day and doing our best to make the most of it, both for ourselves and in light of eternity. I think in the process of living that way, we learned how to express emotions in a healthy way and there are multiple ways of doing that. I guess I’m just saying that I see so many hurting hearts who continually internalize their grief instead of channeling it into expressions of love.
This week my expressions of love included having coffee with another mom who has a child affected with MPS, meeting with a ministry leader who wanted me to share the specifics of our special needs experiences within church environments, paying more attention to the care I give to your daddy, brothers, and sisters, and getting the annual summer gathering of MPS families scheduled and venue reserved. I could name off many other tasks, because as you know, I’m a doer. But one of the things love so much about you is that you taught me that life is less about doing and more about being.
So, I promise, I’m spending more time just being than I ever have. Though the pain of losing you and missing you presses into my soul, the signs of God’s peace, presence and power are more real than ever before.
I feel confident you’re saying the same, only on a level I can’t even begin to comprehend.
I love you, sweet girl. Beyond words.