Last Thursday night I found out that a good blog friend had passed away. And I tried to get through, answering blog comments and reading, but it was just too much. I laid on the floor and let Scrappy come over to console me. Which he did a very good job of.
Next day at work I was a hot mess. Not from grief, but from anger. An anger I would imagine we all go through in various ways with a loved one's passing.
You see, my friend had been betrayed by her body. It threw every kind of painful condition it could think of at her. It reacted to medicines by giving her bloody scream-dreams. At one point a few months back, she asked if I could imagine a pain bad enough that you want to take hold of the nearest door and slam it so hard that the frame rips out of the wall. She had that from brushing against the wrong thing.
But for 95% of the time I knew her over the internet, she tried to show nothing but joy and encouragement. She lived her life for her husband- a stronger man than I'll ever be- and her two daughters, one in college and one fresh off her prom. We didn't agree on a lot of things- she was a bit, shall we say, liberal- but she was full of love and it reflected out in everything she did.
And for that love, for that courage, she got a miserable, painful life and death.
Now let me preface the rest by saying I wasn't mad at God- not quite. I had a severe problem with the way He did things. And not just her- how many good people have died grisly deaths over the millennia? How many have had to die in pain, unloved, alone? So my question was, if nothing on earth happens lest God allows it, why does He allow this?
And in the face of such questions, one always goes back to the holiest, most obedient-to-God man of all time- Job. And even when Job was finally pushed to the brink and he stood up and questioned the fairness of the way things are, the answer he got- on surface reflection- was pretty much, "Who are you to question me?"
And I considered to myself, that there are a lot of subtler shades to what God said to Job, and it was enough. Job repented in sackcloth and ashes. Now, me, had I been Job, I woulda stood up and said, "That's a BS answer! We deserve more!" And likely would have resembled one of Lot's neighbors shortly thereafter.
Now, the anger didn't resolve itself- it just burned out. I was exhausted fighting the battle, mentally and emotionally. But as the anger began to subside since, I got three answers- one then, one that night- and one this afternoon.
The first one, once I let go of the debate in my mind, was along the lines of, "You have been given the answer you can understand." Which really didn't help much at the time, because: God is the Creator, He set the distance between Creator and Creation. Why couldn't He- with an infinity of wiggle room- set our comprehension high enough to allow us a better answer? Why just leave us so stupid that "cuzIsedso" is all we can figure out?
At this point, the anger had sublimated into a typical Martin argue-fest, and all the intangibles came to the table. But as I was not "yelling" any more, but trying to understand, I got another answer: "You know she's in paradise now. No pain. If she is now so happy, does the rest really matter?"
Now this satisfied me- for a little while. And I was willing to let it go at that for a time, until I got selfish. I thought to myself, that's fine for her, but what about us still stuck on earth, in the cycle of pain and despair? And a part of me was still like, "No, it's not enough if I'm still here and I still have to make a sense of it!" But most of me was happy with the conclusion and I tried to let it go at that.
But there's still that nagging part, and truth be told, I wasn't sure if it was the need to know or the need to be "let in on the secret". But I didn't realize that at the time. Instead, I started hearing this song- a song that I knew well, but as you might guess if you read last week's Time Machine, I didn't have a firm grasp on all the words. So I came home and played it, and I get the impression from three things I found in the song that my subconscious had a better handle on the lyrics than I did.
First thing was the opening word, the name of the girl being sung about, Jan. My friend's name was Janine.
Second was this line, that would soon become the most important:
We sit outside and argue all night long
About a god we've never seen
But never fails to side with me...
And then, towards the end...
A life is time, they teach us growing up
The seconds ticking killed us all
A million years before the fall
You ride the waves and don't ask where they go...
So now this song has an eerie connection to the whole thing. But I didn't really pay it much mind until this afternoon, when I asked myself the question: "Is this what I'm doing? Is it that I am mad at God, not for the lack of an answer, but that He isn't siding with me on this?"
And with that thought, I got the third answer:
"Think of how much more than you, she will appreciate My Heaven now. She received a gift on earth, a gift not everyone can take. As special as she was on earth, how much more so in heaven..."
And I have to admit, at this point, I probably have the best answer I'll get on this side. Good enough? I don't really know. I'm awfully stubborn, and my acceptance of this answer might only last until the next really close death. But for now, I am content. And all it took- at each stage of the battle- was to be willing to admit that it was my willingness that was the problem.
So, my friend, I am letting go of your death. Your life, though, I believe I shall hold on to...