We’ve been putting it off, but at dinner yesterday we finally told the kids that their dog is dead. We were able to put it off because Casey lived, not with us, but with faraway grandparents. Still, they had always considered him their dog.
Because the miles are long, and we cross them so seldom, I imagined frowns. Concerned questions. I didn’t imagine tears, let alone heartbroken sobs.
There are some phrases that seem to show up only in books. They are clichéd, like “sat bolt upright” and “burst into tears.” And yet, considering it now, “burst into tears” really does seem to get it right.
Her face crumpled, like a bubble burst, and there was a fierce and terrible sadness pouring out of her.
I was amazed. Who taught her to feel so deeply? It wasn’t me. I have never poured sadness over anyone. I keep it balled up tight like a painful tumor in my throat.
I am grateful that my daughter knows how to hurt. Grateful that she will not or cannot keep it all inside (though I wish she had no need for tears; I wish she never would).
Today, I think of someone else. I wasn’t with her, but I wonder if she looked like my daughter when she understood the news. When she knew what had been lost.
Once, so many years ago, I sat in a church pew directly behind her. I can still see her two long braids, perfectly combed and parted. She shook with sobs.
We were at the funeral for one who loved us both, for one we’ve missed every single day since. Back then, I wished I could cry like that.
Remembering that day is difficult, but it also gives me hope. I hope that she will, once again, have the strength, the child’s wisdom, to grieve.
Our culture rarely talks about grief. We talk about recovery. We focus on getting over, moving on. Surely, those of us who believe in the restoration of all things have no reason to smooth out the emotional peaks and valleys of our lives? Jesus wept. Shouldn’t we?
“Now, O women, hear the word of the Lord; open your ears to the words of his mouth. Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament.”