"You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp."— Anne Lamott
Psalm 34:18 (Msg)
If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there;
if you're kicked in the gut, He'll help you catch your breath.
It's been nine years today.
And right now my mind is flooded with might have beens. So many things are obvious blessings in my life - my wife, my boys, what God has called me to do, that I can get busy, and some of the hurt goes away. But today it's nine years, and all I can think of is what we've missed - of what is absent that we had hoped would be here.
She would have had her father's eyes.
There were times when he was a little boy that we'd go off alone - to the store, to the Krystal, to Grandmother's, that I could look over in the seat next to me and see him looking at me. He'd ask questions, I'd try to answer, and the openness - the trust - the love in those eyes just melted me. Even today, we can be having a conversation and those eyes look over with a twinkle that reminds me - there's a little boy in there. That little boy who wanted to know, was willing to listen, and who took it all in.
Yep. She would have had her father's eyes.
Her smile would have lit up a room, just like her mother's does. There are a lot of ways to measure people. My own personal preference is to look at their impact on others. Some people enter a room and suck all the joy out of it. When they smile it just doesn't look right, like cow horns on a Mercedes. They put it on to try to give the right response, but it isn't who they are.
Her mother is tiny. But when she smiles - she's huge.
I can see tiny feet beating the earth, little white tennis shoes slapping it as they come, bearing a smile so brilliant it warms this cold earth. She grins from ear to ear, and all you feel is joy. When she comes in, so does sunshine.
She'd have her mother's smile.
By her ninth birthday, we'd have covered all the important things. Who loves you best, why Grandaddy's hair is gray, the funniest cartoons, how to eat Krystals and Nuways, and how come Grandmother hugs so hard. We'd have begun noticing more of the world and the questions would be getting more difficult. She'd have impacted my wallet and stolen my heart. Again, and again, and again, and again.
Oh, and about her heart. She'd have had her grandmother's.
I have known literally thousands of people over the years. Some were self-contained, others - self-absorbed. A few seemed to enjoy this life, and others endured it. Many were bright, even brilliant. Others caught the eye, or in some other way made it through the clutter of a life's experiences to my heart and my memory. But none have loved me like Bunny has. For no one I've ever known loves that deeply.
Nine years ago, as we rolled up calendars toward April 29th, the expected day of joy, our home was filled with baby clothing, baby toys, baby... stuff. People around us shared in that and we added our own items. I remember visiting Target with Bunny and hearing her say a dozen times, "won't that look so pretty on Ana?" The only girl in a string of boys, the only girl in her own home full of men - young and older - the possibility to hold, to love, to care, to dress!!! a baby girl was excitement personified.
And when the days stopped for Ana, her Grandmother didn't stop loving. She found a way to love beyond the pain in helping her daughter-in-love deliver her baby. As I watched Bunny hold that small and delicate baby in her arms, weeping and talking to her as if she could hear... it was the greatest expression of love I've ever seen - through the deepest heartache we've ever experienced.
She'd have had her Grandmother's heart.
For me, I don't know what I could have given her. It certainly wouldn't be material things, and her mom and dad would certainly taught her the A, B, C's and enlightened her on them 'Dawgs and Georgia politics. So I guess she'd have had my prayers each day from infancy to adulthood, and my shoulder to cry on and my ears to hear.
It's been nine years today. Nine long years. Her absence hurts our hearts. But one day...
We will see her as only our heart can see her now.