10:36 Last text from Mark: "Leavin now, be home in a bit"
How can it be here? May 30, 2015. How can this year have been so painfully slow and yet now it is over. The mercy of time is that it passes. It can not stay still. If it could I would have frozen Mark. I would have frozen him airborne, in his Batman mask as he launched himself into the pool. I would have frozen Will, Daniel and Maria, screaming with delight as they waited for the splash. I would have frozen Carlos and I, sitting on the screened-in porch, before the pain came.
But it can't freeze. Time can't stop, and really would I have frozen us? I don't know who I will be in 5 years but I know that today I am a better person because of what has happened. That seems wrong to say, as if Mark's death hasn't been the worst thing in my life. But the crazy thing about God, is that He will take the worst thing and make it beautiful. When I think of my heart now, I see a portion of it is black and dead. It will never come back this side of heaven. But the rest of it is now vibrant yellow and orange and joyful. I have changed because of who God has been to me this year, and a lot of that is because Mark has led me closer to Him through his writings.
Our family loves each other better. We look in each others eyes more and show each other more grace. We are gentler to and more protective of one another. I don't think I have ever loved Carlos more than I do today.
I have learned that intense emotional pain doesn't kill you even when you wish it would. So I have realized as I run my errands with this pain, that there are walking wounded all around me. That jerk in the grocery store? He has a story. That driver that cut me off? She has a story. And I really, really want to hear it.
I have learned that the verse about "carrying each others burdens" really works. On days (like yesterday) when I should have been a train wreck of sorrow, I felt light. Others carried my grief for me and gave me a temporary reprieve.
But the greatest gift I have received is the intimacy I have with God. I know His comfort now like never before. I know His love because it has shown up on my door in warm food and in my mailbox, and inbox with notes and gifts. I have learned through Mark's journals to sit quietly and listen for God's voice and watch for His gifts. And not just in the 30 minute devotional time that I check off my "good Christian" list....but all day long. It is a love affair, this relationship with God. And because of that I notice the beauty that has always been around me that sings of His love for me. I have learned that birds sing differently at sunrise and that the moon can shoot light beams across the sky like a cross. That rainbows happen in the early morning just for me to see.
And I have really experienced that God does inhabit the praises of His people (Ps 22:3 KJV) And so, because I desperately need His presence, the answer to so many questions becomes very simple. What used to be answered with "I don't know" becomes a resolved and often despairing "I WILL Worship." What will I do on Mark's birthday? Christmas Day? Mother's Day? It might be from a fetal position in a corner of my room, but I will worship.
So at 10:36 tonight, the time of the last text I received from Mark telling me he was on his way home, and likely seconds before he died, what I will do? I will worship. I will come before God and expect Him to show up, probably respectfully demand Him to show up (I am a very entitled, willful child) and He will, because He loves me. I will offer a sacrifice of praise, likely with many tears and it won't be pretty. I have the assurance that I will not be alone because God will meet me there....He lives in the praise of His People. And I love to imagine Mark rocking it out with me just beyond the veil doing what he has always wanted to do. His last text was exactly right. He is Home.