Today, I have no funny stories. No satire. No irony. Today, my muse has abandoned me. Today, you'll not hear complaints about where I live or even a reference to the nickname I use for my real-life suburb. Today, the wind has been taken from my sails. My heart is heavy, my faith evaporated, my joy missing. I've lived enough, grieved enough, experienced enough to know this is most likely not a permanent state and that if I embrace this moment in which I find myself, lessons will be gleaned from the floor of the desert that is currently my soul.
This post will be long, likely cumbersome, and raw. You need to know that today I write solely for myself. My writing will be purposely self-indulgent with no care taken to the structure or final product. It is simply a baring of myself. Honesty put into written form, that I hope will lift the melancholy that has descended upon me.
I've had a rough year in the area of loss. It was just this time last year that I found out that my friend, Janet's breast cancer had returned. This time there was to be no more remissions, no more second chances. She would die. And so she did on a beautiful late October day. She left behind a husband and twenty-one year old triplets, two boys, one girl. She was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time when her children were eleven. She told me once her goal was to live until they finished college. She didn't make it.
At Janet's memorial service I was acutely aware as I hugged her children that I was experiencing a privilege that Janet would never again know. When I arrived home, I hugged my own children very tightly. Janet's children will live the rest of their lives without their mom. The mom who fought so long and so hard just so she could live to deliver them safely into adulthood. The injustice of her death still weighs on me.
In March, I lost my beloved uncle and seventeen year old cousin in a boating accident. A one in a million kind of accident. A bizarre and unusual series of events that stole two lives. It took days to find their bodies. All the while the family waited on the lake shore. A wife, a mother, a father, a brother, a son, a daughter - their hearts breaking and horrified all at the same time. Shock can only protect you so much. I waited at home for the call with Seven Spanish Angels playing on my iPod. It came. I went. We grieved.
Life has somehow moved on. I've searched for meaning in their deaths. I've found none. Bad things. Good People. It weighs on me.
Last week, my son entered the youth program at our church. He's ready. He's cool. He fits with the group of teenagers he has waited so long to join. Wednesday night they made gutter sundaes and tie dyed t-shirts that read "Tried Died Risen". Just as I arrived to pick up my son, my beloved minister and friend asked if he could speak with me in his office. This is not unusual and I assumed we had church business to discuss or that, possibly, my son had misbehaved in some way. It was neither. His words went something like this, "Boyd died of a massive coronary an hour and a half ago. He was home with Leslie and the boys when it happened. They took him to the hospital, but there was really never a chance that he would survive."
And I did what I do when news like this is delivered to me. I was silent. No tears. No questions. Just a million thoughts processing through my head.
I've known Boyd since 2003 when he joined our church. He was a forty-one year old, very eligible, bachelor then. A doctor, a kind and gentle soul. We were never close on a personal level, I can probably count on one hand the number of conversations we had. However, what I knew about Boyd was this - whenever there was a need in our church, he was there. I cannot count how many obituaries I've read where the family specifically thanked Boyd for his kindness during their loved ones' final days. He was there for my friend Janet and her family.
Boyd married last year. He married a woman with two young children who is also a member of our church. Her boys are just a bit younger than my own children. Boyd had finally found his someone. Boyd and his new wife are expecting a baby boy in October. The boy will be named Jack, after Boyd's father who Boyd never knew because he died when Boyd was three.
So it was that I found myself yesterday at yet another funeral - my fourth in ten months. The enormity of Boyd's loss slammed me right in the gut when is wife entered the sanctuary. Pregnant women should not bury their husbands. Babies should not be born without a father.
Wednesday night at the conclusion of my conversation with my minister I said, "I have no idea what to do." He said, "Neither do I." In an odd way this was comforting. If he didn't know what to do how in the world could I? And yesterday at the funeral I watched as the three strongest people I know - my minister, his wife who is the associate minister, and the music minister - wept openly from the altar. I watched their grief and felt even more helpless myself.
I listened to those closest to Boyd talk about the kind of person he was. He was a rare man who valued people over things, conversation over wealth, and compassion over judgement.
One cannot compare their life to a life such as Boyd's and not come away feeling like a fraud and wondering how it is that such a man, forty-seven years old, never having seen his only child, is now gone. And I, am still here.