So I’m at the pool last week with someone I really like but don’t know all that well and we’re kvetching about grocery prices, etc., when out of nowhere she says, “So I know you lost a baby daughter last winter. How are you doing with that?”
All of the air was gone. But why? I’ve honestly felt OK for many months now–why am I tearing up? I do a quick mental scan–no, I really am at peace with what happened. I tell her that. But I’m still glad that I have sunglasses on so she won’t see the leakage and think I’m lying and crying. Why am I about to cry, anyway?
I had to think about it for awhile. It’s because she asked. Because virtually no one has asked. And then I’m thinking: she was either really brave or really foolish to ask–I mean, really, she doesn’t know me that well and a question like that could very well mean a meltdown and all of a sudden you are sitting in nine inches of water right next to the slide that looks like a frog’s tongue and a grown woman is blubbering and her shoulders are heaving and she’s getting snot everywhere and you have to deal with her. I didn’t do that, but for all she knew, I very well could have. Why would she risk that?
She did, though. The subtext was, “If you need to melt, I’ll mop you up. If you need to vent, I’ll take it. If you need to fall apart, I’ll put you back together again.”
I didn’t need to melt or vent or fall that day, but it meant the world to me that she would have dealt with it if I did.
It is ironic, I suppose, that I’ve never found scriptures or theology to be of any use during grief. Maybe if you didn’t know, then knowing would help. But if you do know, and someone is reminding you, it seems too much as if they are trying to solve the grief for you: “See? You’ll be together again. So it’s OK.” It’s not OK, even if it will be OK later.
Maybe that’s why Jesus cried even when he knew he was going to raise Lazarus in just a few more verses.