It comes in the quietest of moments and also in ones so publicly inconvenient. I swallow and avert my eyes, intentionally trying to push away the words that want to flow into an unrelated conversation or from a memory triggered through something insignificant.
It can come like a wave and I could choke on it at times. The ache in my throat so great that the only release is to ride the swell of emotion.
This wasn’t part of the cost I had considered. I never thought about how leaving would put me in the position to say goodbye to some much sooner than I expected.
Before the passing of a dear friend, I had experienced the death of people who were close to me. Some rocked me harder than others.
But I don’t think I ever experienced such depth of grief until December 2019. I never had to point the finger at that thing that lingered because it never did this long. Sometimes frustration, disappointment, questions but not this.
Not until I stood in shock in the middle of baggage claim. Taking off from Iceland to head to the States for the holidays, only to find out my friend met Jesus as I flew through the air.
Not until I realized my last memory of her in person was six months before, instead of mere minutes or days. The friend that served alongside me in ministry, held my babies when they were born, made me laugh out loud, prayed down mountains and loved her beautiful family and friends better than we probably deserved. As another friend put it at her celebration service, she was the best of us.
Not until I scrolled through messages and texts of her encouragement and prayers over me, continually sending support to us as we moved, talking excitedly about how she would be here to visit soon.
Not until I discovered how easy it was for tears to simmer at the surface, released by a simple nudge or memory.
Not until these things, did I ever give name to or make way for grief. Not until then did I get more perspective on the heaviness of grief for other family and friends in their losses.
The shock of it. The constant presence of it. The nature of it when you have to grieve oceans away instead of within the community that fostered that friendship.
It’s not something I ever wanted to give voice to. But it is palpable and real and still here.
The words of Jesus become more tangible in the midst of the grief. His presence reminds me of what He already knows when He calls us and the hope that is promised out of it.
“Listen to my words,” Jesus said. “Anyone who leaves his home behind and chooses me over children, parents, family, and possessions, all for the sake of the gospel, it will come back to him a hundred times as much in this lifetime—homes, family, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, possessions—along with persecutions. And in the age to come, he will inherit eternal life.”
Mark 10:29-30 TPT
He already named it for us. The loss that could come. What and who might be left behind when we choose to go. What we hope in naivety always remains but can change in an instant.
Jesus put it out there, empathizing with the costs sometimes too great for us to count and still giving us hope to look forward to.
I’ve seen it played out. Even as grief lingers and expands and shows up because of more situations and loss and disappointment that I have yet to see, Jesus promises that there will be more coming back for me.
I dare say we didn’t choose Jesus to experience all this, but in choosing to follow, to say yes, we open our hearts to all of it. But I am thankful that what remains is that we always have access to all of Him.
What loss have you experienced in your passport country that you are having to name and grieve where you are?