I don't love people quickly. It takes me a fair amount of time and good conversations and shared experiences before I develop a love for someone. Loving someone is deep. And it is costly. There is so much reward in it, but there is also so much of myself given to them, trusted to them, that it is a weighty thing to love someone.
And I feel like I need to reserve the word "miss" for those who I love when they are far away. I miss my husband desperately when he is gone. I have a couple of profound friendships with girls who live far from me and I miss them. Missing someone is more than a wanting to see them to chat. There's a tangible sense to the emotion I have of missing them. A longing to be closer to them. And I know I miss them because I took the time to grow to love them.
And so today, on December 19th, 4 years after my 9 week old baby passed away, I wonder how I can miss someone I barely knew. How I can miss someone who never spoke to me, never listened to my thoughts, barely was even capable of responding to me? How is it that my heart could be wound up so completely in such a tiny person?
One thing Jack's life has made me realize is that even though the missing is so painful, there has never been a question of whether I would rather have never loved him at all to save myself this pain. Never.
An acquaintance had a baby of hers die this last year. Her daughter had a fatal birth defect but was able to come home and live with them for a few short weeks. Her comment during those weeks was that her family was living in a sacred time. That word "sacred" struck me and has stuck with me since. Before I read that, the word "sacred" had awe-inspiring but pleasant connotations. Like sitting in a silent, beautiful, old cathedral. But the more the word rolls around in my mind, the more it feels that it is sacred to face the real essence of life. To notice how different a human life is compared to the things and activities we spend so much time on. To be lifted out of the mundane to face eternal things. To step out of the daily rush of living and come face to face with the infinite worth of a life, even if you are forced to face it because that life is no longer with you.
So December 19th has become a sacred day to me. Not in the sense of somehow idolizing the memory of my son, but in the fact that on this day I can not just let the day go by and not notice how deeply I love my children. I can not ignore how precious this life is that I tend to gloss over on a daily basis. I can't forget how terrifying the thought of losing one of my other children or my husband is. I can't help desperately wishing that I never have to experience the loss of anyone else I love, even though I know that is hardly possible. I can't help noticing how much I admire and enjoy my little family. And I can't escape the full weight of how much I miss my son.
Even though it is sad, it somehow feels more alive to have times like this when I am faced with the sacredness of living. Of course, I wish I could appreciate all this without having experienced pain, but I admit that I didn't. I thought I did, but my comprehension of the preciousness and fragility of our lives is much greater now than it was. So it seems that sacredness, like so many things in life, isn't made up of only pleasant things. It is a mixture of love and pain and longing and joy and anger and happiness.
Today I can't escape the sacred. The loved ones around me are so vibrantly alive today. Their eternal-ness is so evident. My thoughts are drawn to them, to God, to myself, to my fears, to my blessings. Whether that causes me joy, pain, happiness or aggravation, I can't ignore how precious their presence is or or how much their absence is felt.
Although many days I would like to overlook how much I love people so that there's no sadness when they are gone, no fear of losing them when they are here, no worry about them as they grow, that's not life. There's a part of life that sucks. But I do believe in the end God will redeem it all. That life will be set right and all of the pain in it will be done away with so that sacredness will include only joy.
But that time is not here yet, so I'll struggle through the sacredness of this day, knowing the sadness will seem to overcome the joy today and waiting for the day when the sadness will be done away with completely.