Last June we spent a beautiful week on the Atlantic in Foley Beach, South Carolina. Beauty in its purest form. Sitting on the deck watching the tide rush in as the waves crashed against the rocks, seeing the sun set and the night settle in…that was my rest. I remember waking in the morning and how the kids loved to run out and step into the salty ocean as it repetitively hit against the steps as the sun danced its way into the bright blue sky.
And this week I thought back to the rhythm and routine of the ocean waves, of the tide rushing in then gingerly dancing back out to expose the raw, untouched ocean sand. And that’s exactly how my heart felt. I very much felt the slam of the waves against the rocks, the movement of the moss and shells back and forth, back and forth as the warm ocean water rushed over them. This week has brought loss to my heart. I sat on the couch Wednesday night and was slammed with a wave of emotion as it hit me once again just how much of Ryan I am losing. Ever so slowly, he is fading away. I miss his voice. I miss how he would put his soft bare feet in my face so I would rub them. I miss him grabbing my hand and putting his arm on my hand so I would rub and scratch him just the way he likes. I miss the contagious laughter that fills a room and makes the light brighter. I miss him grabbing my shirt and pulling me close for a nosey kiss. My moments of interaction with him are fading like a setting sun. Like watching the changing tide, one minute the water is tickling toes and at the next glance it is ten feet away. The lapse between here and there happens so quietly one doesn’t notice the span of time and space. It’s a slow, gentle fade, such a movement and change I can barely catch my breath upon the realization that time continues to steal him away. I want to be selfish and yank Ryan into my arms and never let go. Make time stop. Enjoy the smell of his hair, the gentle touch of his soft, silky skin, take in his own unique scent, gaze into his eyes and memorize every line and curve of his face. Fear envelopes me and I have to fight so hard not to give in to the overwhelming sense of loss. Fighting the change is like telling the sun not to rise, settling the ocean to a calm stillness. My heart wants to go back, take it all in once more, search for the moments I lost, experience life with Ryan again, get a redo. But God doesn’t give us a do over. He gives us eternity instead. And that is the perspective I have to force my finite mind to embrace. Eternity with Him. It’s a gift yet in our humanness, we can’t imagine how amazing it will be, how small and temporary this life truly is. Loss is part of life.
My dad called me Thursday and said his wife’s mom was dying. Hearing my dad cry is hard on this daughter’s heart. And while I love the vulnerability, the openness and trust that allows him to give me those emotions, it broke my heart to hear the pain and hurt in his heart. He loves Donna’s parents as his own and they have loved him well. And 81 years of marriage. How many get the chance to be so blessed? They were loved by many and now he must walk the rest of the journey alone. How does one take the next step, the next breath without your love at your side after so many years? How does one separate self from spouse? I can only pray his last days are few, his moments full of beautiful memories and cherished love. He has loads of family to love on him, trusted caretakers to help him do whatever comes next each day. But most of all, I pray God’s blessing on his 100 year old heart, His faithfulness for the rest of the journey that leads him to his love and to our Savior. My tears are for the beauty of a marriage done well, of a union that spanned the hard, the good, the ups and down, the beauty of forgiveness and the moments of comfort. On Monday I get to love on both my sisters as Amy and I grab Carrie from the airport and grasp onto every single minute together until Carrie must return to her DC home. I’m looking forward to our sister moments when we get to share hearts, wipe tears, enjoy laughter and remember a life lived well. The occasion for togetherness is sad, but the blessing of family will be cherished as we make the most of our 24 hours together.