~ Four days after hearing this unspeakable news, I was finally standing face to face with my friend. She looked at me and said, "I don't know how I am going to get through this."
I told her, "I don't know how you will either. But I know you will." Then we just held each other.
I know saying this was presumptuous of me. I haven't seen my friend in a long time since she moved to Ohio. How do I know she will get through this terrible tragedy? I don't really. What I do know is that she has a deep faith and strong relationships surrounding her. So even though in that moment it seems impossible for her to imagine going on, I truly believe she will.
~ The first reading at the funeral was Psalm 130. The first two lines are:
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears hear my supplications!
The truth in those words written thousands of years ago is profound. Just because one believes in God
and that they are saved from death by Christ, that doesn't mean they do not experience the depths of despair. It is an act of faith that while someone is in those deepest depths, they cry out to God. Hear me!
A funeral is the place to name both the grief and heartache as well as the hope we believe is for us and the whole world. Just as the psalmist straddles both despair and hope, so do we in our darkest days. The lament psalms do not leave us in the depths. Each of them concludes with a word of hope, a trust in the God who redeems us with steadfast love. I know that is the place my friend is right now: straddling those worlds, weary with grief leaning on and embracing any hope she can.
does not have the last word - life does. Life with God.
This is what came to mind as I thought of my friend's daughter: Christ taking her by the hand and now...she has life.
Finally it was time to say goodbye and start my drive home. As I approached my friend for one more moment, I searched for words I hoped would be right. It turns out the words were not that important. We stood there quietly, held hands (something we have never done) and looked out at the crowded church basement. It was filled with young people from her daughter's college, friends and sorority sisters of her daughter, many of whom my friend had never met. She was taking in the moment, seeing all those people who love her beloved daughter. Maybe beginning to feel some hope or maybe not.
But she was not alone.