When you told me your mom recently died the air in my lungs evaporated.
We were standing in a lengthy line at the bookstore when that sad, haunted smile crossed your face. We had barely known each other a week. I no longer cared about my overpriced textbook––I wanted to leap across the divide of unfamiliarity between us and embrace you.
I wanted to tell you I know what it's like to scream with the Psalmist: "Why are you cast down, oh my soul?" (Ps. 42:5) Your heart feels such indescribable agony––your throat physically closes off and refuses to inhale oxygen.
Instead of verbalizing my lament, I stammered a shaky "I'm sorry."
I'm sorry for saying "sorry"––a sad, scrunched-up apology for my inability to cure you of your suffering. A few weeks later, you stunned me. You said I remind you of her––your mother.
I wish I had known Tammy.
Known her when all she loved was being under the trees near your forest home as she cared for outcasts. "The mountains and trees that call you were her home," you said.
That was before the devastation of cancer.
I haven't experienced the death of someone so close to me, but I do know something of the pain of loss. At times, it is excruciating when you miss someone that much––your spirit hardly stirs because it is so crushed.
These are the times when you cling to the promises of God with clenched, trembling hands, knowing He is "near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18).
On Earth, we march to the beat of weary hearts and fatigued steps. But we will one day join all the saints in eternal, celestial song.
"High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s sun! Heart of my own heart, whatever befall, Still be my vision, O ruler of all."
I urged you to meditate on the victory of Christ that one Saturday night when we ate Little Caesar's pizza under smog-layered stars.
What a joy––that we have a Great High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weakness. "He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Heb. 7:25).
In our pain, we know He is intimately acquainted with our griefs, the sorrows over which He has triumphed.
"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living" (Ps. 27:13).
There will be a day when we will join Tammy in ceaseless praise, singing a new song to the Lamb––our Redeemer, our Comforter, our Lord.
I love you. But He loves you infinitely more.
And now she gazes at her Savior. (1959-2016)