Monday, October 28, 2013

Time Heals All Wounds ... Really?

Time, they say, heals all wounds. Hmm. 

How much time? How long? And ALL wounds? Oh really? 

My dad died of widespread brain cancer in 1993. He was in a lot of pain before he passed. A LOT. At the time, God gave me the grace to let him go, and I didn't wish him back because I saw how much he hurt and how helpless and afraid the pain made him. Those memories - memories of him crying out for his mama, memories of him forgetting significant portions of his life - are still as fresh as they were back in October and November 1993. 

There have been times since then - times I've been hurting - that I've missed him so much. The pain of losing him catches me off guard when I see something that reminded me of him, or hear one of the kids (usually my youngest, more about her later) say something or take an attitude that he would have. 

And today ...  today I ache to feel his arms around me again, to hold me close to his heart and murmur in my ear, in his deep, rich bass voice, that everything is going to be all right. 

Because it isn't all right. Not right now, anyway. 

I know that it will be. Someday. But not today. 

Today, I grieve. Today, my baby girl's body lies in a funeral home near Edmonton, Alberta, after a car accident that separated her spirit from it. 

They will put her earthly shell (beautiful as it is) on a plane in Edmonton on Tuesday** morning. (She never got to know the thrill of flying, feeling that surge of power as the plane accelerates, and the sudden smoothness as it lifts off the tarmac.) Her body will be flying and being delayed by layovers all day long and into the night to get here. The staff at the funeral home here need time to prepare everything - probably another day. Seeing as that would put it to a Halloween wake (not a good idea because so many parents want that evening for family time) yet another delay. Unavoidable. (** - Now postponed to Wednesday. Glad now that we opted for a Friday wake!)

We will have what folks here call "the wake" on Friday night, ten days after her accident and nine after we were notified that it happened. 

I know that in time, (and I think that this is the spirit of that saying) the sharp edge of pain will dull. Memories we have will be able to come to us without us bursting into tears at random times, because we are so keenly aware that she is gone from us. 

But that it HEALS? No. No, it is not time that heals. 

And yet.  AND YET... 

It is such a comfort to know that our baby girl had such a powerful experience with God on the night of September 17. She called us on the 18th to tell us about it. And she called her "2nd mother" (which the funeral home doesn't "get" at all ... so they're calling our Dorothy her 'godmother') and she told her too. And she told everybody who would listen, especially if they were hurting and alone, struggling with life. 

We know that we know that we know it was real. Nobody can take that away from us. It makes the grief almost bearable for me. Almost. At least I'm not curled up in a fetal position in a psychiatric ward. I might just be if it weren't for the fact that I know where she is right now. And SHE is not in that funeral home. She is with her Saviour - the One she embraced at age 3, and again at age 5, and the One to whom she responded in love and gratitude over a month ago after He made His presence felt. Powerfully. (See my post below, "Outside the Box".)

But since the accident - and I have recurring flashbacks to that moment when I learned of it and waking dreams of the moment of the crash, usually in the mornings - I have experienced some measure of healing. But not from time.

It's from love.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the outpouring of love that I and my family have experienced these last several days. I have remarked before that it's the kindnesses shown by people, the expressions of sympathy, the acts of love and compassion that seem to hurt the most when we are in pain. Operative word: SEEM. 

Just like it SEEMs that the antiseptic ointment stings in a cut. The stinging, we told our girls when they were growing up, is the feeling of thousands of germs dying. It is necessary for healing. 

Arms have held us, squeezed hard sometimes as we have each grieved in our own way. Hands have brought us food, made phone calls for us, watered plants at the workplace. Feet have run errands for us. We have felt protected, sheltered by close friends and protected from additional heartache by total strangers - everyone from police officers to coroners to two women we have never met who offered to go identify her body. Thank God they were spared that task - since it apparently falls to a family member to do it - and thank God that the coroner's office made it possible to do electronically rather than making us fly out there. There is healing there.

We've heard voices of people we have not heard from in decades. Last night, there was a knock at the door and there stood a neighbour - he and his wife live two houses up the street - whom we hadn't had any interaction with for over 10 years. Yet they had heard of our tragedy. He was carrying a pot of chili. His son and our girls used to play together in both our back yards when they were little. An argument over something stupid made one parent ban the other parent's kid from their property. The friendship survived between the kids, but the parents never got over it. How petty is that? He was decidedly uncomfortable and said his speech, shook our hands, gave us the pot and told us to bring it back when we were done. Gruff, yes, (just his way) but he and his wife didn't have to do that. There is healing in that.

Our daughter's friends have "friended" us, as the saying goes on Facebook. We find that while we have lost one daughter, we have gained dozens of children in the process. It has given us the unique ability to speak life and love into their lives. What a privilege. I am in awe. God has enlarged our hearts. 

Let me explain this to you because ... it is huge for me.

I used to have a saying that made people feel rather uncomfortable: "I hate kids. I even have a hard time liking my own!" When a friend was visiting here a few days ago, I was talking about some experience we'd had and I just quipped, without thinking, "I-doan-even-like kids..." and ... thankfully, she laughed. 

Photo "Sleeping Baby" by Dynamite Imagery at
Yet somehow, even as I spoke the words, they didn't ring as true for me. And just yesterday, I realized why. 

Since Wednesday, I've noticed a growing fundamental change in me. 

I used to stay away from babies like they were the plague. Someone would bring a kid into work and folks would gather around and make inane noises at it while it did everything from burp to gurgle to shriek. I'd flee to a far-off corner until they were done. But yesterday, though I was assured by people that I didn't need to go (I guess losing a child gives you a doctor's note), I attended our home church. And I started noticing kids. Of all ages. The baby on Melissa's hip. The pre-schooler hanging behind Lindsey with her finger in her mouth. The young 9-year-old boy who wears the suit coat to church and whose expressions of boisterous affection used to annoy me. The young people who fidget and who sometimes talk to each other throughout the service when I'm trying to hear what Pastor has to say.

And somehow, though I don't understand it, the feelings have changed. Without me trying to change them. I can't explain it. They just have. This is HUGE.  Through this crucible of fire, in a way I can't describe or take credit for, I have learned to love children

Who knew.

The common denominator in all of this healing, and it is still ongoing .... is not time. Time sucks, actually. Time makes people age, and time takes them away from us. What IS the common denominator is LOVE. 

Love reaches out. Love embraces, cries when you cry and laughs with you as well. Love breaks barriers. Love builds bridges, mends fences, and gives hope. Love serves. Love picks up the phone and calls. Or texts. Or sends an email with encouragement and affection. Love shows that it loves, and then it SAYS that it loves. And then it shows it some more. These are all things that my baby girl understood, because that's how she lived her life. And now she's teaching me. 

It is not TIME that heals all wounds. 

It is LOVE that heals all wounds. 

And love. never. ends.


  1. Too good Judy! Too good! You're such a strong woman of faith! Blessings on you, Neil and Krista.

  2. And here is some more love for my sister in Christ, lifting you in prayer, over and over. You and the others.

  3. Thank you CJ and Terry. The prayers I can sense. The love holds me up. This tragedy (from our perspective) has affected so many people ... but ... it's like the miracles are the reward of her incredible faith.