Sadness is one of the vibrations that prove the fact of living.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, went through chemo and radiation, lost all of her hair. Now, just weeks since bravely finishing her treatment, her husband’s battle with pancreatic cancer ends and hospice steps in. Now, just weeks from his death, she struggles to imagine life as the widowed, single-mother to an 11-year old son.
I have another friend I don’t see all that often. At a restaurant a couple weeks back, we tried to determine how long it had been. She said, “You heard about my brother, right?” No. In South America on a quick trip to help out a friend whose husband had died suddenly and tragically while there. Stopped in his rental car at a road-construction site, a man walked up to his car, fired point-blank through his window, and killed him instantly. The woman her brother had gone to help traveled back to the States, now with the ashes of two.
My boyfriend, just weeks ago, lost a family member and a close family friend within the span of days. One to an accident. Another to illness.
I could go on.
In such stories, in life, we are at a loss for how to make sense of such things; how to make sense of a God who could allow such things to occur in the first place. We shake our heads and wipe away tears, wondering how much more we can bear; how much more those we love will be asked to bear.
Lest you think I have an answer, let me assure you I do not. Nothing even close.
All I can do is invite sadness in and let sadness stay. For my friend who is raging as she watches her world unravel. For another whose world came undone a year ago and who has somehow managed to make it through more than three hundred and sixty five days with this reality in her heart. For my boyfriend who grieves not only these losses, but lost in memory, so many others.
All I can do is let sadness stay.
I do not want to. I want to push it away, shovel it up, bury it deep, cast it out. I want miracles to happen and tears to end and time to pass.
But to let sadness stay is the only way I know to keep my heart open. To let sadness stay is the only way I know to allow my friends to grieve – well, long, hard, without need to make things more comfortable for me. To let sadness stay is the only way I know to experience God’s compassionate grace and kindness. To let sadness stay is the only way I know to let life regain the upper hand; to really feel, to really ache, to really love.
I do not want to end this post this way – any more than I want to drive away from my girlfriend’s house or the restaurant; any more than I want to hang up the phone and get back to work when I hear my boyfriend’s tears. But so I must – because so it goes and sadness stays.
I could feel helpless. And sometimes I do. But to let sadness stay is an intentional act, a choice, an acknowledgment of what is instead of giving in to the temptation to keep a stiff upper lip or quote a Bible verse or say, “I understand.” I don’t.
I don’t understand so many things, but this I do: when I let sadness in, a glimmer of hope sneaks in, as well. And that’s enough for me. For now.
For God will wipe away all their tears; there will be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither will there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Until then, I’ll let sadness in, knowing hope isn’t far behind. This is miracle indeed.