Land of the free.
Home of the brave.
The American Dream… Happily ever after.
You are literally the worst at grief.
I first had this thought about a month ago. Our oldest son John has a dog named Bosco. Bosco, is a Rat Terrier, Pekingese, Basset Hound. To say he is one of a kind is an understatement. In a two generational breeding mishap, Bosco’s grandfather, a purebred Basset mingled his prize seed with the neighbor’s award-winning Pekingese. Their daughter, a wayward tart, grew to be a lovely malady of wandering nonsense with a taste for purebred studs. Her wanderlust led her to the breeder down the street and earned her a small litter of pups. Three males, two red headed Pekingese looking lads with big ears and … Bosco.
John was 7 when we brought Bosco home. He was less than a pound and… Ugly. But they loved each other, still do. Bosco and John have been inseparable since 2006 (pictured above effectively homeschooling.)Alas, Bosco’s genetic makeup affords him some trials. The most prevalent: an underbite. As of late Bosco is having trouble eating. John tries new foods, he mashes, grates, steams, and purées in an effort to prolong the deterioration.
Something he is just not ready to face.
In spite of the fact that John is 18 and about to begin pre-med studies, he asks me often, “Mom, what will I do when he’s gone?”
And it occurs to me, I haven’t had a good answer. Why? Because I don’t want to tell him the right answer. Because the right answer is:
You will grieve.
You will hurt.
You will cry.
You will miss that little friend of yours.
On every hike, on every full moon on that rickety old porch, on every frog hunt, your precious man-baby heart will break. You will tell tall tales of his loyalty and friendship. Someday, you will tell your son about a pup named Bosco – who you grew up with by your side. Your greatest comfort when your uncle died. Your loyal pal when you had that ugly break up, and your very best friend, none other, none like him, not to be repeated.
You will just grieve.
A couple of weeks ago I ran into an old friend who was recently and unexpectedly widowed. The young widow and I chatted and she vented some of her trials. One of which was being asked, “what will you do now?”
And people don’t like her answer; they want her to have a happy plan. They want the dream to have a destination. Certainly you, a privileged, educated, independent woman has a plan???
As the casket lowers to its final destination… What now?
Again, two days ago I saw a Facebook post. A young family mourning the death of their two-month-old son. The comments left me speechless (obviously, I have recovered.)
“It’s been two years, when will you try again?”
“What’s the plan for your family now?”
First, they weren’t trying to win a race only to trip at the finish line? They buried their boy. Try again? Attempt happiness? They didn’t fail or mess up? Their infant son never woke from his nap.
And then, I met a woman in the grocery store, and she asked about my baby. The conversation warranted my explanation, that the baby is our foster daughter. She gasped. “What will you do when you lose her?”
And I said it:
I will cry.
My heart will break.
I will sit on her bedroom floor and smell her little clothes and rub them on my face. I will beg God to protect her… And carry me through.
I will intentionally breathe in and out, and then I will heave ragged wails desperate for the weight of her sweet cherub self to be back in my arms.
Flustered, the woman bolted.
America, free, brave, dreamers of all that is good, prosperous, and comfortable – I pray you read this for what it is. Not a criticism, but a free pass, to grieve.
Wail and gnash your teeth.
Men were killed. Police officers are distrusted. Gun violence. Sex trafficking. Liars, thieves, and rapists walk free. Planes fly into towers. Drugs destroy us. Our food and water poison us. We are bankrupt. Our babies are faced with that which we couldn’t have imagined.
But by all means, chin up, get some white strips so your smile will look most shiny! Suck in that gut, squeeze into some spanx – don’t let them see you cry.
Stop and grieve.
Stop putting a band-aid on it. Stop stuffing it with Prozac, vodka, and Rocky Road. Stop. Stop asking what is next, and grieve. Have you seen news reports with mourners in other countries? They fearlessly lament their suffering. Here, we tell our kids, “don’t let them see you cry.” Or “Calm down, we will do this at home.”
Perhaps, if it were ok to mourn in the streets, to cry out, fall to our knees and beg for mercy, every protest would be assumed: peaceful.
Granted, bad guys claim to be performing “justice.” And we are afraid. But fear can’t stop us from doing what must be done so that we might heal.
For such a time is this, a time to cry out, to submerge ourselves in the break., to bathe in the hurt. Wave after wave, let the memories flood – let the breath of agony drown us – no plan. No, “what will we do next?” Just let the nature of hurt – hurt.
That’s the plan.
Not to wallow in self-pity or die on the hill of mourning – but America, it’s okay to let go. Let the flood gates open, let the cries be heard. And yes, everyone has to do it their own way, but must we beg an excuse?
Crumple to your knees. Lament that which you’d hoped for and lost. It’s isn’t a sign of weakness. It isn’t the last straw. It is here on the payment of our destruction we lie face to face and nose to nose with others who are suffering too.
Land of the free, home of the brave, the next time you are hurting, the next time the unthinkable occurs and someone asks you, “what’s next?” Just be honest.
“Next, I grieve.”
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
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