Friday, May 15, 2009

Experiencing Another's Sorrow

Over the last few weeks, facing Aaron’s death has done some unexpected things within me.  It has been quite an emotionally difficult time.  So much so, that I could never have imagined I would be affected as greatly as I have.  As I’ve talked to God about all the sorrow that I have felt and the tears I have cried, I have also asked Him for understanding in why I am feeling everything so deeply. 

On April 18th, when I sat down to journal about the events of the prior week regarding Aaron, I began with the following words:

Oh my Lord, I am exhausted…the emotions are so raw…it’s been such a difficult week.   Nothing compared to the sorrow of Aaron’s parents and immediate family.  But we do have our own sorrow that we carry.  Lord, my heart is breaking for the sorrow of everyone affected by young Aaron’s death.  I cry for them all.  I cry because I will miss hearing Braden talking about Aaron, his dear friend.  And it breaks my heart that Braden has lost a friend that he cared so much about.  I cry because Aaron’s touch on all of our lives is now finished until a future time when we are all in the heavens.

I need to write and express my emotions and detail the events of this week but cannot even do so without the tears flowing and flowing.  My heart aches so much.  I don’t understand it.  A mother’s heart that cries for another mother’s sorrow, a mother’s heart that cries for her son’s sorrow in losing his friend, a mother that cries for the death of a young man, a mother’s heart that knows it could easily have been her own son whose earthly life just ended…a compassionate and empathetic heart crying for the loss and sorrow of so many. 

So many different things on my heart and rollercoaster of emotions…

Aaron was not my own son or my dear friend; I barely knew him personally.  But it has been like I am intensely feeling everyone else’s loss—I can’t even explain it myself.  It has been quite odd and surreal.  Although, I do know that God has been allowing me to feel it this way—for whatever His reasons are.  As I have thought about it each day, I have told Him that I would rather feel the painful loss of those who loved Aaron than not to feel it.  So I have accepted and dealt with it.  There have been days I have broken down, weeping with such sorrow that it made my head spin and feel dizzy as it threatened to overwhelm me.  In the first couple of weeks, I had a few mornings in which I felt like I didn’t want to even get out of bed in the mornings.  I kept thinking I was feeling a microscopic inkling of what his mom was probably feeling.  Thoughts of Aaron and his family (especially his mom) and friends have been constantly on my mind and heart throughout each day.  I have been in sorrowful mourning for the loss of Aaron’s presence here on this earth.  I have grieved with all those who loved Aaron.  I love him through them and miss him terribly through them. 

One morning, as I was crying on God’s shoulders, He reminded me of Jesus weeping with Mary over Lazarus death as it is told in John 11: 

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick."

But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it."

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?" Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. "But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." This He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep."

The disciples then said to Him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him."

Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, so that we may die with Him."

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house.

Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You."

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world." When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.

Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.

Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?"

They said to Him, "Lord, come and see."

Jesus wept.

So the Jews were saying, "See how He loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?"

So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Remove the stone."

Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days."

Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?"

So they removed the stone Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. "I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me." When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth."

The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.

Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.                         

Jesus wept” is the answer I have been given for the extent of my grief.  Christ in me is weeping with all who loved Aaron and are experiencing heart-breaking sorrow in having lost his presence in their lives.  Christ knows the depths of everyone’s pain and loss and shares it.  He understands our despair in not comprehending why Aaron had to go so soon and why what happened happened.  Christ hears our “whys” and “what ifs”.  He knows that Aaron is missed and that our hearts will take a long time to heal and recover.  He is the Great Healer of our hearts.  Christ cries with us and feels the sorrow with us.  Yet, He does not want us to forget that He is the resurrection and the life.  And that even in the death of our loved ones we will see the glory of God because the earthly death of our temporal flesh is not the end.

On April 18th, I ended my journal entry with the following words:

What can we do but let God and time heal all our hearts from this tragic loss and expectantly look forward to the day when one day we will all be reunited with Aaron again in heaven.  Lord, hold us all close and comfort us as only you can.

I know without a doubt that God and time will bring healing to everyone’s aching hearts.  When I was 11, I had a very dear friend die from Cystic Fibrosis.  It was a tragic time for me.  Michele had been the very first friend I had made when our family moved from Puerto Rico to Houston, Texas.  She became my friend when I could barely speak any English and had to mostly communicate with a stumble of words and hand signals.  But she was sweet and patient with me.  Two years later, Cystic Fibrosis overcame her body.  When I was 19, I lost another very dear friend due to an auto accident.  She had been my friend through some of my most difficult teen years and my maid of honor at my wedding.  I could not believe my friend, Nicolette, was so suddenly gone in an auto accident that seemed to have taken place only with her vehicle and no one else around.  Four weeks ago, those two events from my life kept replaying within my mind.  And I was grateful that through my own past experiences God could reassure me that healing will come for my children and the other youth in how they feel about the unexpected loss of their friend.  There will be moments of tears and frustration and of not understanding.  But with each passing day, the pain of the loss lessens just a teeny bit more.  We hang on to our treasured memories and the blessings we enjoyed of that special someone having been a part of our lives, even if it wasn’t as long as we would have liked.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

May the Lord hold us all close and comfort us as only He can…

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