The voice over the car radio promotes a Champagne Brunch. The word Champagne sticks. And, it festers. Champagne. Champagne. Champagne Ponds…on the Big Island. Where we took turns swimming to literally keep our sanity while you lay nearby in bed at the naturopathic treatment center – fighting for your life. Fighting for the chance to one day swim in the Champagne Ponds. Our salty tears forever mixed into the Champagne Pond.
Champagne Brunch. I change the channel on the car radio.
I walk by the television and hear World Surf League commentators analyzing the pro-surfers in the line-up. I didn’t even know the contest was “on”. Our lives once revolved around WSL events – like other families’ lives might revolve around baseball or football. And, when John John hit the line-up, it was time to stop the presses. Drop what you’re doing. An adrenaline rush for JJ’s #1 fan. You paced the living room floor and yelled at the TV if the judges didn’t get it right.
I hear the WSL commentators, but I have to keep walking.
I run into the store. Just looking for one thing. A quick in and out. There she is struggling with the zipper on a piece of luggage. Two young sons hover nearby. Actually, they hover right over her. Perhaps trying to be helpful. Perhaps not. She’s engrossed with the suitcase. The boys are being mischievous. Just little boy stuff. She’s oblivious to their wonderful presence. Just caught up in her task. I wish she’d notice how adorable they are. How wonderful. How precious. She continues to struggle with the zipper.
I turn my gaze away from the woman I don’t know; the woman I can’t stop thinking about for hours.
We walk into the chapel. I reach out to God and wait for the pain to soften, if even just a bit. And there, out of the corner of my eye, I see it. The spot where you last sat … in a wheelchair … to worship your Lord. Where your weakened voice joined in praises. Your smile, still strong. Your resolve, superhuman.
I listen to the pastor preaching a good word, but my mind is out of focus. I pray for peace that surpasses all understanding.
I scroll through my feed. There’s a photo. I’ve never seen this one before. It wounds me like a dagger. Then, a long, warm embrace.
I cherish every new photo, every memory and every mention of your name.
I open a random webpage. A stunning island moutain trail in vibrant color. Just the kind of place that would make your heart soar!
I close my eyes and try to remember the good times…together.
I hit favorites on my cell phone to make a call and your smiling face looks back at me with a momentary taunt that maybe I could actually call you.
As much as it HURTS, I will not delete you from my favorites!
Yes, grief stalks me.
It’s there … just around the corner, with any given click, through any random door.
It’s been nine months. I have learned to live … with the pain.
By the Grace of God, I have the strength to live, breath, change the channel, walk on by, turn my gaze, pray for strength, remember and never, ever delete you from my list of favorites, my memory, my daily life.
Because in 9 months, I’ve learned that Grief is Love.
And love never dies.