Friday, June 15, 2012
My failure has not been because of the lack of emotion, or even the lack of words. Perhaps a lack of courage, a lack of ability to publish quite honestly how I have been feeling.
The truth is, I have discovered a new word: heartbroken.
I think at first I was simply unaware of how deep the loss of Matt ran. The first few days were a blur. Then I went away, and saw friends and did things and kept busy and only began to face reality when I got home.
To an empty house. To being alone. To the void. Heartbroken.
I went back to work, and thought it would help. Doing something. I don't understand why it was so awful. Why my head just switched off. Maybe it was simply the timing - I moved from feeling nothing to feeling overwhelmed in an instant. For no reason. I couldn't respond to basic requests. I welled up and found myself crying with embarrassing regularity.
And in the evening, I picked up Matt's ashes.
I used to have the best dog in the world. Now I had a box. Heartbroken.
In the past, I have observed strange behaviour in bereaved people. Now I was engaged in every last trait. I held the box. I took it with me from room to room. I talked to it. I resented it, and depended on it. I placed it where Matt would lie when I went to work as I left the house the next day.
And my boss was kind to me. I realised I couldn't go on. I asked for help, and she suggested I took the remainder of my holiday time and went away immediately. I decided to take two days to tidy up my work, and to prepare for meetings when I return, and I booked a flight to go visit my sister in Florida.
In the midst of this, it was my aunty's funeral. I did my best. I hope it was OK. I wanted to support my cousin Howard. Rarely have I felt so empty of any ability to help. I guess the important thing is to be there, right?
John, the vicar in Calverley, agreed to bury Matt's ashes in the churchyard here. We'd find a corner somewhere - it's an enormous churchyard. We'd dig a hole. Just the two of us. We'd pray, and sing a resurrection song, and lay my boy to rest before I went away.
And we did it tonight.
As dusk drained the light from the evening, we met at the church gates and found a place where the graves meet the meadow beyond. It's a good open space, just what Matt would want. John dug the hole. We prayed. As John gave thanks, a deer appeared in the fields across from us, a gentle creature bobbing in the long grass, hidden from the cattle further away and half hidden from us in the fading twilight.
There will be a new creation. And all will be well. And God will restore all things. And my beloved Matt is safe, and loved still, and at rest.
And my broken heart found, amidst its flowing tears, a strange sense of peace. I can remember no words we used. I managed to sing so little of the song I had chosen. I wanted to pray and don't think I did. Yet God was there and held me and helped me and for the first time in my life (unusual, this, for one who has taken so many of these occasions) I felt the real power of a funeral.
A proclamation of resurrection, a declaration of thanksgiving, a trusting my beloved into God's hands, these simple acts of faith - they have added to my brokenness the beginnings of a peace that wasn't there before. Is this what people normally get? Do I manage to convey this to others? Did my cousin feel anything of this yesterday? I hope so.
There are still tears. This journey has some mileage in it yet. And yet, perhaps, something strangely profound has changed.
"Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted." It seems so. I hope so. I think I ought to seek this further.
Perhaps, perhaps - when we trust God and lay those we love to rest, the rest is not just for them, but a little spills over to us for a while too.
Anyway. Now I have finished work for a couple of weeks. And I look for this other new to me word: rest. And hopefully also comfort.