This is what every morning looks like these days. Lena begins to rustle around in her crib around 7:30 or so. I slip out of bed, gather her up into my arms, and plop her into my pillows in my bed. I grab a big stack of books from the basket underneath my bedside table and snuggle under the covers with her. Then we read books and talk about how we slept and what we’re going to do today, until eventually she says, “Mmm!”
And I say, “Are you hungry? Do you want some breakfast?”
And she says, “Mmm! Mmmm!”
And then we change her diaper, put on clothes, I put on clothes, and we go downstairs, where she eats approximately 10 bowls of Raisin Bran (her favorite) and I sip half-caff coffee and munch on Grape Nuts and bananas (my favorite).
These are peaceful days here in my parents’ house, and I am so grateful for this chance to spend extended time with family. I have found, though, that being here at home has meant that I have begun missing Julia all over again. Every time I come upstairs, I see her smiling at me from her high school senior portrait, glowing with fresh young beauty. Her picture is on the wall in the entry way, above the trunk on the landing, in the photo collages in the basement. Even now as I sit in bed writing this I can look up and see through the door into her room. We still have barely touched her room, and I’m fine with that for now. It’s a good place to go and miss her, and cry a bit, and think about what you have lost and what will never be.
I had lunch today with my dear friend Kim. I told her I feel angry about Julia’s death, which is an emotion I really haven’t felt until this visit. I had a hard time expressing my anger to Kim because it was so wrapped up in trust in and need for God at the same time. Kim suggested that perhaps I wasn’t angry at God, I was angry along with God. Together, God and me, we are angry. We are angry at the presence of death in this world, we are angry that this world isn’t fair and good, we are angry at the hole Julia has left in family and friends’ lives. Something clicked for me when she expressed the idea of being angry along with God (an idea which, coincidentally, she got from our mutual friend Sarah, another grieving friend in this sad world). Does it make sense to you? I love, believe, and need God in the midst of this aching, bleeding, angry loss.
I catch myself thinking, “If only Booie would come home and make us all laugh again! We’re so sad and serious these days!” and then I remember she can’t and never will. But then I try also to remember that she is so very happy and that we have so much to be thankful for.
And I get up and face another day. And I am thankful that each morning in this house starts so sweetly, with baby snuggles and board books, with physical presence in the momentary absence. Until Paradise.