After Case was diagnosed in 2009, I pulled a lot of weeds. I pulled thorny weeds, I pulled grassy weeds, I pulled weeds in the hot sun, but I especially enjoyed pulling weeds in the rain.
Well, enjoyed may not be the right word. It was satisfying to pull weeds in the rain. I could cry and no one would know the difference.
God mourned with me and I no longer felt alone.
Sometimes I would run until I thought I would pass out. I don’t know if I thought I could run from the pain or if I thought I could punish my body somehow as much as the grief has punished my heart. I could then feel the grief physically. Probably a little bit of both.
I no longer grieve on a daily basis. But the grief still resides below the surface.
And this week, with the death of Case’s principal, the overwhelming grief wave rises again.
With Case’s relative stability, my grief is for my friends’ children. It is for the helplessness we feel to save them when there is a drug that could. It is for a woman who died way too soon, in a horribly tragic way, and who left a husband, children, grandchildren, students, teachers, families, and an entire town with a deep sorrow.
And so I grieve.
In Biblical times, weeping involved tearing of clothes and gnashing of teeth. I can’t say that I have gnashed my teeth today, but I have gnashed my body.
Our property has a very old barbed wire fence that runs through the woods. I’m sure it was born in relative ease. It wasn’t inserted into trees, mangled in briar patches, or buried in the ground. I’m sure it was simple and clean and unencumbered at its birth.
But as time passed, and life happened, these things grew around it, encompassed it. The fence would not give way, but the forest continued to grow.
We never expected to be surrounded by thorns, covered by earth, encompassed by tree trunks. But life has happened. And here we sit, surrounded.
But sometimes being engulfed in a world not of our making isn’t the horror it seems at first. The thing we thought would break us, suffocate us, may turn out to be the thing that protects us from the thorns.
And so that’s just what I did.