The other day as I walked, as usual, I spotted her flowers. That mocking floral exclamation point of red, white and green madness protruding from the ground right above her covered head. They glare at me while coyly screaming, “Look at me, don’t I look as pretty as before? I haven’t changed a bit!” And I fight hatred for them in all their petty goodness and beauty. I glare right back at them and scowl. I want to run over there and make them look like I feel, so I do my best to ignore them, to rise above their whispers of plastic perfection.
Most times, I end my walking routine by marching over and sitting at Grace’s gravesite. Sometimes Alese joins me when she finishes her tennis practice. And that was my mind this particular day. I thought to myself, “Ok, just two more laps to finish and then I can so sit with Grace.” As I started on the last two laps, my mind wandered to all the things I would never get to do with Grace. No college graduation, no first real job or apartment or house. No wedding to have to scrap up money for….no this and no that… … As I went on with my list, I could not believe all the blessings of which I was being deprived. And with each deprived thought of the future, each turn of the wheel of my brain, the ache in my tortured heart grew wider and deeper. No one can bear the burden of a life of deprivation without slowly dying themselves.
As I brought all these thoughts of deprivation to the One who was walking with me, softly but quickly and ferociously, like a humming bird to a crowded nectar feeder, His question speared me, knocking the breath and life back into me. My walking Companion asked, “Why are you going to sit with Grace when you have two children playing at the tennis court?” “Don’t you think it would be better to watch them play and enjoy life than sit with the dead and feel deprived?”
I was stunned and silent. But my internal working was being shaken like an Etch A Sketch. And slowly the lines of reasoning I had drawn were being knocked down and erased. “Why do I feel deprived?” I really have no right. How unfair and selfish of me. In that moment, I was humbled and ashamed but so grateful to the One who walks with me for His truth and honesty. So, I decided to change my mind. I addressed the guilt I felt about being so close to the gravesite and yet not visiting. I reasoned to myself that I would not visit Grace every time I went by her house if she were still alive. In life, you know there are boundaries you do not cross if you are to have successful healthy relationships. The same is true in death. There are boundaries that you must see and adhere to if you are to have a successful life and maintain healthy relationships. So, I did, I embraced the shaking and changed my heart and mind. I finished my walk by heading in the opposite direction of the grave site toward the tennis courts to cheer on Jared and Alese.
Feeling deprived is a mindset that does nothing but bring despair and heartache. If it is indulged often enough and long enough it will be hard to distinguish the grave from the living. We find ourselves living statues bent over the grave weeping for lost dreams doing little but mourn our lives of loss. Becoming healthy, whole and happy is not an overnight process when you experience devastating life changing events, but with consistent work, diligence, desire and a Good Walking Friend, I find myself hopeful to get there, one step at a time.