A dear friend of mine said goodbye to her mother a couple of weeks ago. From the other side of the country we exchanged a few supportive emails. "Thought of you often in these days that are hard and holy." Her words were short, but so true: hard and holy days.
After Eric died, he still felt so very close. It was like we were two people living on either side of a curtain that divided our realities--one side hard and the other holy. I slept by the curtain, I woke up by the curtain. As I began to work my way back into life, I always kept my grief curtain in sight. On day four after each chemo, I would make my sick self comfortable right up next to that curtain and would let the dark heaviness cover me like a familiar blanket. Some days my time at the curtain was planned and other times I was thrown there unexpectedly by a song, a smell, something said.
In those days when grief was so heavy I thought that if I could press my hand up against my imaginary curtain, it would be met with the pressure of his warm and loving hand from the other side. Standing in this grief, gave me security that he wasn't completely gone from my life, from our family's life. On the flip side, I felt like my faithfulness at the grief curtain showed him that he wasn't forgotten. That his loss mattered to us. That he was worthy of us taking the time to be in this hard and holy place.
I found comfort at the curtain. It was where I could take a break from the noise of life and I could more easily remember his voice, his laughter, the sound of him coming through the front door. I could remember his solid confident words about how I would beat my cancer. At the curtain, the noise of the world quieted enough for me to imagine him saying, "You've got this, Dawn. The hard times will pale in comparison to the holy that is to come"
The seasons changed and although I hated to leave the last winter that Eric had experienced with us, the business of life crept in and the curtain of grief quieted and my time there lessened. It became the backdrop of our lives instead of the focus.
The truth is, he doesn't feel as close as he used to. It no longer feels like he's right there waiting for me to press my hand into the curtain that divides us. I have to work harder for the memory of his words, his laugh, his presence--and that's mostly okay. If the intense grief of those first days and months continued it would rob me of the life that I am meant to live. The life he would want me to live. The life that God has prepared for me to live.
I don't foresee that the curtain will ever completely leave, nor do I want it to. It will quietly hang as a divider between the now and the not yet. A reminder of everything on the other side--every one on the other side. Some day that curtain will raise and it will be time for me to say goodbye to this world and the hard and happy things it has held. Until then I will rest in the hope of Him who holds the curtain and comforts those who find themselves in that hard and holy place.