A light went out this week. She was 31 years old and brightened every room she entered. And while I know Schuyler is free from her cancerous body, I am saddened that when she was separated from it she was also separated from husband and son. Pardon me for saying so, but it isn’t fair.
I could say all the things folks say in these situations, “She’s in a better place” or “She’s with Jesus” “God is good all the time” and while those things are true, these clichés are trite and unhelpful in this moment. My heart screams, “What better place is there than with her two-year-old son? What about her husband who has stood with her through this whole battle, what about being by his side and growing old together?”
I am angry, and I have learned anger is a red flag for pain. Pain when, mixed with grief, is a powerful elixir of vulnerability and transparency. A raw and real place. A wide-open space where humanity revolts against the realities of life and death. Where the flesh temporarily overtakes the spirit in its writhing. Wrestling with God in these moments of hope deferred is an unspoken burden to bear for those who loved her.
An earthquake of shaking, followed by a tsunami of questions which roll around in the mind like thunderstorms in the summertime. This is where the shaping of faith happens. This is where I learn what I really believe. This is where I question God, like Job, and wait for his answers as I sit in sack cloth and ashes for my friends.
I watched Joe and Schuylar’s courtship across continents. I witnessed their love for one another as an observer. I saw the joy that radiated from her while planning their wedding. The same joy that jumps out of pictures when Vander was born. Even with her bald head while enduring treatments, she was smiling. Her grit and determination showing how very much she wanted to stay. But she couldn’t and it breaks my heart. To see Joe’s pain. To see Vander’s confusion. It is all just too much pain for those so young. It isn’t supposed to happen this way.
And so, I rail against God, I plead, I bargain, and I cuss. I so want things to be different, but I am powerless to make them so. I turn instead to the one who had the power and didn’t use it. I ask God hard questions through tears of grief. I demand to know why. He does not answer me. He knows “for my glory” will only anger me further. He is silent. Yet, he is here. Right beside me. I can feel him. Sitting here as I write. Guiding my thoughts and my fingers. He has not forsaken or abandoned anyone, even though it feels that way.
I will never know these answers I seek in my sorrow for my friends. And I guess answers are not the point, otherwise I would have them. But I am not afraid to ask, if answers are not the point, what is? That is the bigger question. What is the point if not healing? What is the point if not supernatural belief? I have no idea. Maybe trust? Maybe understanding that not knowing is okay? That not having the answers is acceptable? Saying what I feel instead of what I am ‘supposed’ to say is more honest?
The realness of such circumstances is where humility is born. Pain gives birth to many things that become foundational. I just wish it didn’t have to work that way. Especially now, for this little family. Words don’t help. Prayers didn’t come out as any of us had hoped. I can only offer my sorrow, and that just doesn’t feel like enough. Yet, it is all any of us have to give. All of us together, sitting with Joe in his grief, holding space with him and for him and Vander, may bring some comfort. It may give him some sense that he is not alone, that none of us really have the answers, but we all feel the loss and we are in it with him…maybe that is the point.