Sunday, December 18, 2011

A grave blanket and the thoughts it evoked....

I had a few ladies sitting around my dining room table last Monday morning, when I looked out the window and saw Mike bringing pine boughs onto the porch.  I knew that he was gathering them to make a grave blanket for Duane's grave.  We started buying them a few years ago.  I wish I had taken a picture of that first one.  A friend of Duane's happened to be working where I ordered it, and she created a special "Duane" blanket, complete with big safety pins and chains like he liked to wear.  I just know he liked it!  Last year, we started making them ourselves.  In today's economy, you just have to do as much as you can yourself.

These ladies and I meet every week or so.  Sometimes we watch a video and sometimes we talk about things that we're going through.  We are building relationships and helping each other grow.  We share things that we have learned from God's Word, too.  It's amazing how, by the end of our hour and a half or so, great burdens can be lifted and we know how to handle situations.  Anyway, when I saw what Mike was doing, I interrupted the conversation and asked them to pray for him, because I knew the sadness that he was experiencing.  Then we got into a conversation about how we should celebrate the life of our loved ones and be happy that they are in Heaven.  I totally agree, but that doesn't take away the sense of loss, the sadness or the grief.  

After everyone left, I felt like continuing that conversation some more, so I sent my friends an email.  I wasn't looking for a reply; just wanted to say some things.  Here's what I told them:
"You know, we were talking about how it is right to celebrate the life that we shared with Duane, his time, his talents, the blessings of him, celebrate that he is in Heaven, etc. ....... That is all true, and I do, but........ (and you probably all know this, but I just feel like sharing it..... women like to talk, as you know!) ..... I still grieve the loss and always will. I still miss him at every holiday. And many "normal" days. Whenever a family photo is taken, I look at it and know there is one person missing. I miss him when I look at other people's art and wonder what more he would have created here, and is creating "There." I miss him when I think of the movie "Shrek." It was one of his favorites. I miss him when I drive by what used to be Mount Tone. I miss him when I think of pottery. I think it was his favorite mode of creating. I still think of what his family would have been like today.... wife, children, etc. Of course, I also know that perhaps he was spared much heartache and that now he is living life to the fullest. But.... it will never stop hurting. I just don't talk about it much."   By that, I didn't mean that I experience "hurt" every moment, but you just never know when something will happen that causes an emotional ambush.

Over the last eight years.... nearly nine years now.... I have come far on this journey of grief.  There's a common saying that you can let life's tragedies make you "bitter" or "better."  I like to believe that, with God's help, I have gotten "better."  As much as I can, I now help others make this journey that none of us ever wanted to take in the first place.  I no longer experience the roller coaster of emotions.  I am thankful for the memories, and thankful that Duane blessed our lives.  But grief is not something you "get over."  It changes your life forever.  Life never returns to "normal."

After I sent that email to my friends, I watched the updated, expanded version of the video that Duane's friend Ken Wormuth created, "In Loving Memory of Duane DuBois."  I had myself a good cry, and then I felt better.

While it's true that One Day all of our tears will be wiped away,

"and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes;
and there will no longer be any death;
there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain..."
~ Rev. 21:4

in this life, here and now.... sometimes, you just have to cry.