I’ve known it. I’ve seen it. I’ve craved it.
But over the last few weeks, I have realized something else entirely can steal your breath when it flows from the hands, the mouth and the heart of a child…
And that something is grief.
As keenly as I’ve felt the unexpected and recent loss of my Daddy, it is no more real than when I have seen it through the eyes of my children.
The moment we told our Grace my dad was gone…
Her heaving sobs. Her broken heart. Her understanding.
Ah, her understanding.
The both blessed and blasted grasping of reality and loss that continues to punch me in the stomach.
It is not only what takes my breath from me, but it is also what led me to heave my nearly eight-months pregnant body onto her top bunk to comfort her, despite my husband’s admonition and subsequent near-suffocation when I jumped on him in my attempt to “safely” get down.
I simply could not leave her alone in her grief.
I had to hold her and kiss her and quietly whisper, “I love yous.”
It is there in that bunk bed I learned why a Father bends so closely and keenly and unreservedly in comfort. Why you can kick and scream and flail and He still holds you with whispered “I love yous.” Why in the greatest despair you can also feel so strongly and securely held.
But Grace has not been my only teacher...
Oh, our son.
The one who fought back little boy tears to say just how deep his love ran for the man he knew. Feelings infused with an unencumbered joy over the years that had been given to us. Made clear in his spoken response to the question, “How do you feel about this, buddy?”
“I am happy…happy because of all the fun things I was able to do with him.”
A declaration made somehow more beautiful a day later when he was watching fireworks and exclaimed, “That one’s for Pop Pop!!!”
For this little guy, grief has been about celebration.
Not only because of the promise of a heaven but also because the time with Pop Pop given to him has been so beautiful.
I see it in his eyes every time he talks about his memories.
It is not grief without hope. It is an expectant joy at the reunion waiting. Where they will eat peanuts and stay up late together and talk about “man stuff” for an eternity.
From a six-year-old boy.
Well, then, there was the moment we buried my Daddy…
And my Sophie handed tissues out to everyone.
I watched as she wiped my mama’s eyes and patted her hands and unreservedly loved on her. She had no regard for protocol or reverence or the rules. She just simply saw hurt that needed to be salved…
So out came the Kleenex.
A sweet, punch-you-in-the-gut, steal-your-breath-away act of love.
She knows he’s gone.
She says often, “I miss Pops!”
But she also knows I do too…I hear it every time I burst into a flurry of unexpected tears and she asks, “You are sad about Pops? Me too. Me too.” And then I feel it when just like clockwork, she reaches her tiny hand up to my face and wipes my tears as they fall.
She comforts even in her own grief.
I cannot even begin to tell you how like Jesus she is to me in those moments. Reaching past her little girl hurt to love mightily on another. Seeing the need that is beyond her own sadness.
It is a care more breath “stealing” than taking.
Yes, grief is hard.
But through the eyes of my children, I see so often how it comes from a well of love and the very depth of hope and even faith.
It is not masked with a foreboding sense of fear or hopelessness.
It is just purely love.
A love that cries and hopes and comforts with a faith in what waits for those who love Him.
May I love and grieve like that.
One breathtaking, punch-you-in-the-gut, beautiful moment at a time.
Sara Cormany guest posts on the first Friday of each month. Sara is mommy to six-year-old Grace, four-year-old Drew and one-year-old Sophie. When she is not wiping noses, changing diapers or chasing her kids, she is a sometimes writer and a sometimes teacher to teenagers. But her most cherished role is that of one who is perfectly held by Jesus. She loves watching Him take the broken, the messy and the seemingly mundane of her everyday and turn it into something beautiful. She recently began her own blog called Where Feet May Fail. Be sure to check it out.